Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Stamp Mate & Colnect - two things that make my philatelic life much easier...

While working on my album pages, I have been also working on creating databases for my collections that include Catalog correlations between the major catalogs (Scott, Gibbons, Michel, Yvert) and any Specialist Catalogs I have in my library. 

For that purpose I use Stamp Mate, a program developed in a couple years ago by the Catamates company in I believe Europe (I think they are in Slovenia???) It's a very flexible program that is connected to the online stamp idenfication site Colnect, which allows you to import information from Colnect into the program.  For me, this serves as a "base" upon which I can then use to fill out relevant information regaring stamp varieties etc for different countries.

The last few days I have been working on my Australia collection, starting with the Federal Commonwealth Postage Dues.  Here is an example of what I have done in my Stamp Mate for listings  (you will want to open it to see it more clearly) :

This is the listing of the first part of the 1946-1956 Redrawn Plates issue of Australian Dues.  The two listings with images I imported from Colnect using the "Add Stamps Automatically" function.  I then entered the Catalog Number info that is not in already in Colnect (here that is "Specialist" - which is a special personal field I created in the program to represent the various specialized catalogs I have.  For Australia pre-1966, this is the Brusden-White Australian Commonwealth Specialist Catalogue series numbers).

I then click "edit stamp" and then "save and New (Clone) Action" to create new listings for the varieties of the base stamp not already in Colnect - editing infor such as colors, the catalog numbers etc) for each variety I want to include in my database.  As can be seen here, for the 1d value, I have created listings for five varieties (here, color shades) listed in the BW Specialist Catalog but not in the main ones.  I then put "var" after the catalog number for the main catalog listings.  So here, while I have five variety listings for Scott Australia J0072 (noted as J0072 var), they have discrete numbers in the Brusden-White column.  Very nice and organized and, when I get done, provides me catalog number correlations and information regarding what to look for in terms of varieties that are not listed in the main catalogs that just might be lurking unknown in a dealer's stock.  To quote a popular Stamp Forum Webmaster..."Knowledge Is Power!"

The program itself is not that expensive (30 Euros IIRC) and for me it's the perfect cataloging software to let me know what I have, what I want, and just what exists in general.  And its flexibility to allow personalized customization is a definite bonus.

Once I have finished all the catalog data entry, I can then use Stamp Mate to start planning out my album pages. Not in terms of design, but as I organize my collection chronologically with all varieties of stamps for a given year together (Defins, Commems, Charity, Dues, Officials etc.) I can use the "Year of Issue" box to filter all the stamps issues in that year that I have listings for.  That way I don't have to have four or five catalogs open at one time while working on making the page layouts on Excel, just Stamp Mates!

One issue some collectors might have with this system is that Colnect, the online stamp (and other collectibles) identifier/catalog, does not always have complete listings for many nations.  Colnect's information is provided based on a Wiki model, contributors provide information that Colnect's moderators then add, and other users can help improve information, correct errors etc.  Overall Colnect has become a very good resource for stamp collectors - its stamp section now lists over 660,000 items.

Here is a sample of their listings, this is from Portugal for the year 1951 - showing the catalog cross references provided, which are so handy if you buy stamps online from dealers in other parts of the world.  Here we have numbers for Michel, a major US catalog producer, Yvert and Portugal's Afinsa. Also nice images you can click to get a larger view, and lots of technical information.  Again, no catalog values, but just having the cross-reference of the catalog numbers and the technical information is very valuable.

However, working on my French colonial/post colonial pages that I have posted on here so far, I found plenty of gaps.  So, one of my new philatelic projects is helping to fill those gaps on colnect by submitting information, images etc. It's actually quite easy to do, and is a great way to expand the global philatelic "knowledge" base.  One area I have also been helping Colnect with in the past few months is New Issues.  I discovered that this was one of the weaker areas for Colnect for nations outside the EU and North America, so have been doing research and contributing information, images etc for new 2017 (and in some cases 2016) issues that they lacked for many nations. Been having a lot of fun with this, and its given me a new appreciation of the beauty of design of many new issues from around the world this year.

Here is an image from some of the the 2017 issues of Vietnam I submitted for addition earlier today :

Colnect of course is not the only online stamp "catalog" around. There is also Stampworld.  But the two have some key differences.  Colnect is more "reference" oriented - it provides information on catalogue numbers for stamps from the main (and some regional) catalogs (though where there is no info, as with new issues, they have their own "placeholder" Colnect codes that can be later updated when catalogs do assign number for the new issues).  Stampworld, on the other hand, has its own unique numbering system.  And there is a reason for this - Stampworld provides "values" for stamps...though what those values are based on I have never been able to conclude.  Colnect does NOT provide catalog value information, and any information you import into Stamp Mate from Colnect will not have catalog values - you'll have to enter those yourself.  For me, that is perfectly fine.  I'd rather do that kind of data entry myself rather than use "market data" of unclear provenance.

Hopefully you all find these programs/websites helpful. I have found them to be invaluable in helping me not just organize my collection, but deal with that issue that plagues collectors who use the internet to buy material - the different catalog systems used in different nations.

Links :

Stamp Mate 2015 by Catamates

Colnect Stamp Catalog

Comments? Questions? Ask Away!!