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How do we define what a complete stamp collection is? Some may argue that it would mean having every stamp listed in a catalogue for a given country, topic or period. If so, which catalogue to follow, given that catalogues differ? Also, would that include all varieties that specific catalogue lists and both mint and used, or just one of them, or a mix of both is acceptable? Perhaps a complete collection would be filling up every space of a given album.
Most collectors spend time looking at various items, studying them and noting that many stamps possess unique features , colour and shades variations, minor errors or varieties (or even very noticeable ones not listed), different paper thickness, a range of perforations, an even greater range of cancellations, and the list goes on.
Even though pieces perfectly centered are the ones sought after, I sometimes add badly shifted ones as well simply because I find that interesting. Especially when collecting earlier items, I come across so many different shades or shifted printings that I cannot but add some to my main collection. The same treatment is given to appealing cancels. This is perhaps the reason I never adopted any of the albums one can find in the market – I would have to build such a massive appendix to go with it that it would just be easier to do it all from scratch in the first place (an ongoing project with my Swiss collection, by the way).
Zumstein no. 220 / Michael no. 336: the issues have numerous printing shift variations and cancellations. Only 2 varieties are listed, one with a very strong shift that brings the red paint to almost the middle of the denomination and almost until the perforations bellow, and one where the red paint is not present.
These doubts have crossed my mind as I approached the commonly accepted ‘final lines’ of some periods, but especially when I started working on my ‘No. Ones’ collection. I based myself mainly on Scott, but have gone to Michel and a couple of local ones for information on what to look for, and although things may change while I seek the issues, I have basically been ‘creating’ a ‘catalogue’ (or list, actually) of my own deciding what I actually want to have rather than just going for the listed “1” in a world catalogue.
I do not have an answer of what a real complete collection is, maybe because it varies among collectors. Perhaps when the goal – whatever the goal is – has been reached, it is complete. Maybe all catalogue listed ones are not enough for many and will be always a work in progress. In any case, I believe it does not matter. The feeling one has after sorting out huge boxes of stuff and admiring the end result already is like “mission accomplished. Well, at least until the next box comes along.
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