The Scott catalogue of
postage stamps, published by Scott Publishing Co, a subsidiary of Amos Press, is updated annually and lists all the stamps of the entire world which its editors recognize as issued for postal purposes. It is published in six large volumes (as of 2008) and is also produced in non-printable CD and DVD editions. The numbering system used by Scott to identify stamps is dominant among stamp collectors in the United States and Canada.
The first Scott catalogue was a 21-page pamphlet with the title "Descriptive Catalogue of American and Foreign Postage Stamps, Issued from 1840 to Date, Splendidly Illustrated with Colored Engravings and Containing the Current Value of each Variety". It was published in September 1868 by
J.W. Scott, an early stamp dealer in New York, and purported to list all the stamps of the world, with prices for each. A notice inside does caution the reader that "it is simply impossible for any one to always have every stamp" in stock. The original catalog has been reprinted.
In subsequent years, the Scott company gave up dealing in stamps but continued to publish the catalog, gradually providing more detail as the
hobbyevolved and collectors became more sophisticated. In addition to the factual information about the stamps, the catalog includes price information based on market analysisand reported sales from the previous year. As of 2006, and despite annual changes to save space, the catalog was more than 5,000 pages.
The Scott numbering system assigns plain numbers for regular mail stamps, and uses capital letter prefixes for special-purpose types, such as "B" for
semi-postals and "C" for airmail. The numbers are generally consecutive; there are gaps among older stamps, where some numbered types were later renumbered, and among newer stamps where Scott has left numbers unassigned in the anticipation of additional stamps in a series. If more stamps than expected appear, Scott will add a capital letter as suffix, or if the change is very recent, it will renumber stamps.Minor variations, such as shades or errors, get a lowercase letter; so the "C3a" above indicates a variation (error in this case) on the third US airmail stamp.
Because of its commercial importance the publishers of the Scott Catalogue claim
copyrighton their numbering systems, and grant only limited licences for their use by others. The inconsistency with which Scott enforced these licences resulted in a lawsuit by Krause Publications (publishers of the Minkus Catalogue) for copyright infringement. After Krause filed a defence the suit was settled out of court, and Krause continued to reference the Scott numbers. It has been speculated that Scott was not successful [http://www.stamps.net/opinion6.htm ] . Attempts by philatelists to establish an alternative have not yet been successful.
Editors of this, the dominant catalog in the US, have great influence over what is and is not considered to be a valid postage stamp. For instance, in the 1960s the countries of the
United Arab Emiratesissued many stamps that were likely never actually on sale in a post office, so Scott does not list them. One must go to a Michel catalog, for instance, to see them described. The lack of a Scott listing, though, means that most American dealers will refuse to trade in such stamps.
Similarly, Scott does not list most stamps from countries
embargoed by the US government, or in some cases lists them but with no prices. To some extent, this is unavoidable, since the ban on importation means that Scott's editors are unable even to acquire copies of the stamps to be described. Moreover, since US dealers and collectors are unable to buy the stamps legally, they are unlikely to have any need of the data. (Again, interested persons typically use Michel or other catalogs instead.) The policy changes with government policy; stamps of Libyaand North Vietnamrecently reappeared in Scott after an absence of some years.
The dominance of Scott is such that US collectors know many of the numbers by heart, and dealers need only mention the number in their price lists. For instance, United States no. "C3a" is instantly recognized as the
Inverted Jenny, a rare US airmail inverted error stamp.
The contents of each volume (in current editions) are as follows :
*Volume 1: United States and Countries A-B
*Volume 2: Countries C-F
*Volume 3: Countries G-I
*Volume 4: Countries J-O
*Volume 5: Countries P-Si
*Volume 6: Countries So-Z
Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers
Scott Publishing Co also produces a related volume which more comprehensively lists all United States Postage Stamps and Postal History. It is generally known as the "Scott Specialized" and is regarded by many as the definitive single volume reference to USA postage stamps. The catalogue provides more detail than Volume One, with particular emphasis on varieties and errors. A new edition of the catalogue is produced annually with a particular edition year date generally indicating production in the middle of the previous year. Biannual Valuing Supplements are also issued in the Spring and Fall.
* http://www.amosadvantage.com/scottonline/ (The publisher's Scott Catalogue home page)
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