Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New series of blog posts in the pipeline - Reviews of Specialized Catalogues from around the world

I've been relatively scarce the past several weeks and for that I apologize.  Work has been very hectic lately for me, still working 48 hour/week shifts.  Also had some family drama, as my mother-in-law first moved in with my partner and I, and then a week later passed away. My mother-in-law was 86 and was in late-stage conditions of Alzheimer's Disease, so while her passing was not completely unexpected, the demands on my free time were taken up for the most of May by preparations to move her in and then the unexpected demands of dealing with my mother-in-law's passing, as my partner was her last surviving child.

June has only been a continuation of the stresses of May at work, though I finally took my first week of vacation the week of the 19th to the 25th. It was my first vacation in nine months, and had been originally scheduled for April but due to my hospitalization in April due to a blood infection, I had to reschedule the vacation week.  I have another week of vacation in July, but as I have friends from overseas coming to visit and plans to spend a few days in the St Lawrence Valley and then in Montreal and Ottawa, I had to spend a good bit of my June vacation preparing for that.  At least I can say life is not dull, but free time to spend with stamps and my other hobbies has been at a premium.

The good news is that July is looking less hectic to a degree.  After months of being short staffed, my department at work is now full staffed as of this week.  Once we get past the 4th of July holiday, I should be working 40 hour weeks going forward.  You do not realize how much an extra day away from work can help keep you sane and give you personal time to do things you want to do! My friends from overseas will be here most of the last two weeks of July so that will be a demand on my free time, but after that I should finally be able to have more time to work on stamps and my other hobbies.

This is not to say I have completely ignored stamps over the past couple months.  I was not able to attend World Stamp Expo in New York as it was held during the Memorial Day holiday, one of the busiest holidays for meat and seafood departments, and with the weather having been so nice this year it was really busy and gives me pause to think how busy the 4th July holiday will be especially if the weather is as gorgeous and warm as it has been here the last couple weeks.

I was able however to get a chance to attend COLOPEX 16 here in Columbus.  The regional APS show held each year by the Columbus Philatelic Community, it was a nice show.  Not quite the grand show it used to be in the 1990s to be sure, but nice enough as it was with some great exhibits and about 25 dealers in the bourse accompanying the show.  Found some nice French colonial material that day, and overall it was a great afternoon of philatelic fun for me.  In 2018 the annual APS Stamp Show will be held here in Columbus, so that will be something the local philatelic community will be gearing up to host.  If it is as good as previous APS shows held here in Columbus it will be a great philatelic time to be had by all.

Now that things in Real Life are beginning to allow me more free time, I am going to start a new series of posts here in this blog over this next several weeks.  The idea of the posts was suggested to my by philatelic blog master Jim of the Big Blue blog.  As those who regularly read my ramblings here on this blog, I have a love of specialized catalogues, and my library continues to grow as I add more countries into the mix.  In fact I think I am currently focusing more on the catalogues than on stamps themselves, in part because I am setting up my collections and so need to have the catalogues now to properly lay out my pages for all the varieties that specialist catalogues provide information.  Jim suggested that I consider a series of posts reviewing the various catalogues in my collection and compare them to the Scott Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue that many collectors use when they want access to a bit more information on specialized material from the golden age of philately.

Sounded like a winner to me, so the plan I am working on is to start posting the series one country/catalogue at a time. Hopefully the readers of this blog will find these review useful and, as always contribute suggestions for improvement.  And a special thank you to Jim for the excellent idea he planted in my ear.  I can only hope my postings are remotely as educational as his posts for BigBlue, though I will be covering the whole catalogues I review which means there will be quite a bit of post-1940 discussion as well.

And speaking of Specialized Catalogues, with the sudden approximately 10% drop in the value of the UK£ against the US$ in wake of the Leave victory in the EU referendum,  British catalogues are now a nice bit cheaper than they were a week ago.  Since I think this drop in value is only somewhat temporary, I decided to place an order for a bunch of Commonwealth Specialized catalogues from Stanley Gibbons.  The fact that SG is also still facing a great deal of its own financial turmoil (its stock is now down to approx  UK£0.12 per share now) and the potential that something bad may happen to SG in the near future as a company also motivated my decision.  The result - I have 13 catalogues heading my way from Britain and hopefully they will be here sometime in the next week.

If you are in the USA and collect British and or Commonwealth material, now is an excellent time to pick up some items from British retailers while the UK£ readjusts in valuation to deal with the new realities of the UK leaving the EU.  Make hay while the sun shines!