Around two-and-a-half years ago, I set out to collect A Stamp From Everywhere (ASFEW). The first step in this endeavor was to set some criteria: For the most part, I am collecting only those stamps listed in the Scott Catalogue. These aren’t always actual “countries”; many towns and cities, provinces, states, colonies, and organizations have issued stamps over the past one hundred and seventy-six years. Because of this, I usually refer to “stamp issuers” or “issuing entities” when writing about them.
A second criteria concerns my budget. My occupation as a teacher doesn’t make me rich in any sense of the word and as an English teacher in Thailand, I earn significantly less than I would in a more developed country. Thus, there are certain issuers which will sadly always remain out of my collection. An example of these would be the various Postmasters’ Provisionals issued by the Confederate States (and most of those by the U.S.A. as well).
I still do not have a grand total of stamp issuers. I’ve been working on a spreadsheet designed to help me but it is a slow process. I decided the best way to tackle that project was to go page by page through my Scott Catalogue (6-volume 2009 edition) and list all the stamp issuing entities and their page numbers, along with a great deal of additional information. Bear in mind that each volume of this edition numbers around 1,300 pages and is not strictly alphabetical (Åland Islands is found after Finland, for example) with some entities even appearing in two different locations based on political status (Azores appearing both in Volume 1 at the end of the A’s and in volume 5 following Portugal to cite one instance). Fairly often, I run into the question of whether or not I should separate an entity from it’s mother listing at all.
As I’ve added stamps to the collection, I’ve departed from the original goal of adding a single stamp from each issuer. It is much more satisfying to look at an album page containing a set, for example. For certain entities, I’ve also delved into covers (FDC’s, flight covers or the occasional bit of postal history) and the odd bit of unlisted postal stationery (I tend to go for the postal cards rather than envelopes).
I am (slowly) creating self-designed album pages for each entity which includes a map, flag(s) used, and a brief overview of their political and/or postal history. While it all seems like a lot of work, it is probably the most satisfying of all of my collections that I’ve created over the past forty-plus years.
While I didn’t set out to collect alphabetically, I’ve found that is the easiest way to search on eBay as well as giving me a greater sense of accomplishment as I near the completion of a letter of the alphabet.
While there may be a few more “A’s” in volumes 5 and 6 of the Scott Catalogue, I am confident that I can call the letter almost complete (minus nine Confederate Postmasters who issued provisionals from places such as Anderson Court House, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia).
The following are the “A” stamp issuers, as I have sorted them in my collection, illustrated by a single stamp from each and listing the year range they issued stamps and the number of stamps I currently have from each (minus duplicates and unlisted stamps).
*I will probably end up re-sorting the Aden Protectorate States in the K’s and Q’s to be consistent with how I’m organizing other states and territories.
So, the “A’s” portion in what I am now calling my “Stamps From (Almost) Everywhere” collection currently has some 552 stamps amongst 45 stamp-issuing entities. The B’s appear to be about halfway completed as are the C’s and I suppose there is probably one more entity to go in the Q’s. There are other letters in the alphabet that are nearing completion as well….