The 1895 Scott Catalogue

The easiest way to appreciate the changes that have occurred in our hobby since its early decades is to look at an early edition of the Scott Catalogue and compare it to the Scott that we use today. The Scott Catalogue grew out of the stamp price lists of the early stamp dealer J. Walter Scott. By 1885, he was publishing an annual catalog, and the 1895 edition which we have in our library has just 620 pages. In those pages, Scott lists all the postage stamps in the world, US locals, and Postmaster Provisionals and worldwide stationery.

Postal stationery is now a forgotten sub specialty of our hobby. For most countries collectors have been collecting only the stamps for over a hundred years. But before 1900, no collection was complete without postal cards and envelopes.

And prices have changed dramatically too, as you may well imagine. The British Guiana #13 catalogs $450. It was sold last year for $9,200,000. Talk about what we’d do with a time machine if we had one? We’d go back and buy that stamp! Or maybe a mint China #3 for a quarter.

We’ve scanned some pictures of various pages from this 1895 edition which show some of the interesting aspects of our hobby. For instance, the US section only describes the US stamps and has no illustrations of them (not even the crude block prints that were used for other countries stamps. This was to avoid problems with strict US counterfeiting laws at the time.

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