Philosateleia
Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Philosateleian Blog

Stamp catalogues: the value of depreciation, and their growing size

Last fall, I decided to take the plunge and replace my set of 1998 Scott catalogues. Although they had served me well since an aunt found them at a library book sale many years ago, a couple of decades worth of stamps have been issued since those catalogues were published. It was arguably time to move on, but I had a decision to make: which year set would I purchase?

At nearly $125 per volume, the six-volume 2017 catalogue set was a bit rich for my blood, especially since I use the worldwide catalogues more as an identification tool than to find current market values. Meanwhile, the 2016 catalogue set was much more within my price range, but would still cost more than $200 even if purchased used.

The sweet spot for me was the 2015 set. At only a couple of years old, it was a vast upgrade over what I had been using, but at a fraction of the cost of the newer catalogues. I searched Amazon.com and eBay, and for a grand total of $87.88—that’s less than $15 per volume, or approximately 12% of the cost of the newest edition—I was about to purchase the complete 2015 set of catalogues. That total included shipping.

This approach wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone; if you’re very active in the stamp trade, you may need a reference containing the absolute latest market values. I would suggest that the majority of collectors are not necessarily in that group, however, and if you’re like me, going back a couple of years can save you a lot of money on your stamp catalogues.

Getting fat

As you may have heard, Amos Publishing this year will break each of the existing six volumes into two parts, turning the 2018 set into a 12-volume collection. That certainly won’t do anything to make the catalogues less expensive, but the existing format has apparently been stretched to its limit by the number of new stamps issued in recent years.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the difference in size between my existing 1998 catalogues and the 2015 catalogues:

1998 and 2015 Scott Catalogues
1998 and 2015 Scott Catalogue sets

Just eyeballing it, I’m guessing the 2015 catalogue set is approximately 30% thicker than the 1998 set. That suggests to me that approximately one third of all postage stamps ever issued have been released within the last 20 years or so. Good luck trying to keep up with the flow of new issues!

Out with the old

My 1998 catalogue set will soon be on its way out the door—unless, of course, you want it. I’ll happily send the set, or any portion thereof, to you if you pay the shipping costs. If you’re interested, send me a note with your mailing address, and I’ll provide an estimate of how much it would cost to send the catalogues to you.

2016 year in review

We’re in the waning hours of 2016 now. With the calendar year almost in the books, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the year that was for Philosateleia and for my stamp collection.

The big move

The biggest event for Philosateleia in 2016 had to do not with the website itself, but with my family’s relocation from Florida to Texas. Preparations for the move and getting settled in here consumed a big chunk of the summer, and I still don’t feel like I’ve caught up on everything, particularly where stamps are involved. The move without question impacted how much time I was able to spend on the website, but hopefully we’ll be able to stay put in 2017.

Philosateleian Post

Philosateleian Post carried a total of 328 pieces of mail in 2016, down ever so slightly from 341 in 2015. Considering my summer move and how little time I had for stamps or the mail at that time, I’m pleased to have done that much.

Philosateleian Post also issued three new local post stamps during the year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of James Herriot, the centennial of the National Park Service, and the 10th anniversary of The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album. In addition, I was able to begin offering printing and perforating services thanks to…

The Southworth Perforator

I had purchased a Franklin hand perforator in late 2014, but in February of this year, I had the opportunity to purchase a Southworth perforator. The “new” machine has the capability of perforating the full length of a sheet of letter or A4 paper, something the Franklin couldn’t do.

The Southworth is a beautiful machine, and it’s a real joy to use, and I’m still just absolutely thrilled to be the caretaker for this piece of equipment.

Philosateleian Post Horn

The Philosateleian Post Horn, my monthly e-mail newsletter, began 2016 with just over 300 subscribers. As we head into the new year, the Post Horn’s subscriber list has grown by nearly 20%. As least part of that is due to…

Philosateleia in Linn’s Stamp News

On December 19, Linn’s posted an article about Philosateleia which provided a comprehensive overview of my stamp album pages and other philatelic activities. That writeup, which I understand also appeared in the print edition of the publication, helped drive a substantial amount of traffic to the site in December.

Your support

As has been the case in past years, several fans of Philosateleia, the Philosateleian Post Horn, and my free stamp album pages made generous donations of cash and stamps in 2016. Philosateleia’s expenses are fairly low, but every little bit helps, and I can’t thank you enough for helping to support Philosateleia.

American Indian military payment certificate

Although I’ve long been fascinated with stamps, money has never held much appeal to me. I speak from a collecting standpoint, of course; I like having money, and I really like having a little bit extra that I can occasionally direct toward my philatelic pursuits, but collecting the cash itself? Not my thing.

I’ll make an exception, however, for the $10 American Indian military payment certificate used by United States service members in Vietnam during the early 1970s. My mother-in-law, knowing my love for the 14¢ American Indian stamp, purchased one of the MPCs for me earlier this year, and I have to admit that it is an absolutely gorgeous piece of paper.

Front of miliary payment certificate picturing American Indian
$10 American Indian military payment certificate

I’ve added the $10 MPC to my exhibit 14 Cents: the American Indian Stamp, and you can read more about it there.

Thank you, Vivian (once again)

I received a donation today from Vivian B., a longtime supporter of Philosateleia. Vivian has contributed in the past to help cover Philosateleia’s operating expenses, and I really appreciate her latest gift. Thank you, Vivian!

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