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

Book review: Scott 2010 Specialized Catalogue

It’s no secret that the Scott Specialized Catalogue is the only game in town where U.S. stamps are concerned. There are other catalogues, and certainly other reference books that go into far more detail, but none attempt to cover the same breadth of material.

The Scott 2010 Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers lists the most recent U.S. postage stamps, with the regular postage section ending with the Anna Julia Cooper stamp issued in June. There are updates to listings for the “Forever” stamps introduced in 2007, as well as other ongoing series.

The catalogue covers everything from postmaster provisionals to revenue stamps to proofs and essays, and even stamps issued by Cuba, the Panama Canal, and other entities while they were under U.S. control.

The 2010 edition of the catalogue contains more than 1,000 pages. It’s probably not surprising, then—although it is somewhat disappointing—that a number of errors have crept in or gone uncorrected from previous editions.

One example of this is on page 206, where the footnote following the Columbian issue souvenir sheets references known proofs, but inexplicably lists the wrong Scott numbers for the designs used on those proofs.

There are also spots where perforation or die cut measurements are off. I would say this is not a huge issue, but a) this is a specialized work, and b) the editors of the Scott catalogue list perf. measurements in tenths. I have no problem with them making such fine measurements, but if they want to do that then I would prefer that the measurements they state be accurate!

Despite all of that, the catalogue really is a beautiful work. The vast majority of the listed stamps are pictured in color, which is certainly a marked improvement over the older editions where one was faced with page after page of black and white illustrations. In addition, much of the information simply is not readily available elsewhere to the average collector.

Editor’s recommendation

In general, the catalogue values of most U.S. stamps have not changed that radically over the past couple of years. If you have a recent edition of the catalogue—or if you don’t collect recent U.S. issues, which is what the bulk of the new information covers—my advice would be don’t bother spending the $80 to upgrade.

On the other hand, if you’re working with an older copy of the catalogue, or if you need information about all the varieties the USPS has issued over the past few years, then the Scott 2010 Specialized Catalogue is a worthwhile investment.

Published 2009-10-25

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