Sample Journal 1

The Types of the First Set of Stamps for Austria

By Kurt F. J. Heinrich


Types are categories of variation of a postal stamp, defined for a specific purpose. The classification I describe permits the average stamp collector to recognize variations of a stamp that might be of interest to him, and for the dealer to offer and price them. Both the SCOTT catalog and the MICHEL catalog have defined a set of types for the first set of Austrian stamps. Not surprisingly, their definitions of the types differ, since the types are practical inventions rather than God-given categories. I find, however, that these two classifications, although useful, are misleading in some points, and omit interesting differences in other places. I have therefore developed my own criteria, and I hope that they would be useful to other stamp collectors as well. The following are the conditions a type should fulfill:

1.There must be a clear difference that allows us to assign objectively a stamp of reference to one type or another. Conditions that vary gradually should not be the basis for establishing a type.

2. A type must be present with a reasonable frequency. A classification that goes beyond the usual interest is confusing and not very useful to a typical collector. Variations that appear with lesser frequency can be treated as sub­categories. Accidents (in this series, for instance, randomly broken letters or random blobs of ink) must be excluded.

3. The types should be recognizable with the tools available to the typical hobbyist (particularly, a very good magnifying glass).

4. Features that cannot be objectively defined only create confusion.

The classifications do not, of course, imply that the collector should not dwell on whatever aspect of the stamps interests him (such as, for instance, the cancellations, or the items to which they are affixed). They are, however, important in the interaction between the stamp dealer and his clients.

Mr. Jack Reber has kindly lent me a large number of stamps of this series to study, and I have tried to set up a scheme that works (at least for me). I have not considered features that I believe do not lend themselves to a clear distinction. Those are the following:

Paper Thickness:

I have measured a number of stamps with a precision caliper, but thickness measurements are not very useful. According to Michel, the thickness ranges of both types of paper overlap greatly. There are stamps made of exceptionally thin or thick paper; these are, of course, of special interest to the collector.

Vol. 4 Nr 4 P 4

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