World Stamps

Introduction to Scott catalogs contains valuable information for every collector: Editor’s Insights

May 20, 2016, 6 AM
This illustrated guide to the catalog listings can be found in the introduction of each Scott catalog. The introduction also is available free at

By Donna Houseman

The first two volumes of the 2017 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue are now available as Scott eCatalogues.

Volume 3 will be available June 1.

The Scott eCatalogues provide the eight volumes of Scott catalogs, including the six Standard catalogs, the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers and the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940, in a convenient, easy-to-use online format.

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Country and regional specific eCatalogues, such as Australasia, Canada and China, are also available.

Buried at the bottom of the home page of is one of the most useful resources for the Scott catalogs, and it’s free to visitors to the website.

This handy resource is the “Catalogue Tutorial,” which in essence is the introduction to the Scott catalogs, starting with the Understanding the Listings section and continuing through the Pronunciation Symbols.

To get the most out of the Scott catalogs, users must read the introduction to the catalog. A wealth of information is packed into these pages.

For example, the Scott catalog editors frequently are asked why a stamp has a blank or a dash in place of a value.

In “Understanding valuing notations” in the Special Notices section of the introduction, you will find this explanation:

“The absence of a retail value for a stamp does not necessarily suggest that a stamp is scarce or rare. A dash in the value column means that the stamp is known in a stated form or variety, but information is either lacking or insufficient for purposes of establishing a usable catalogue value.”

Understanding the Listings is one of the most valuable sections in the introduction.

This section features an enlarged picture of a typical listing in the catalog. Eleven listing components are numbered, identified and explained in detail.

The Basic Stamp Information section in the introduction includes definitions of the various types of paper on which stamps are printed; separation methods (perforation, rouletting, and die-cutting); reprints and reissues; and much more.

Also within this section is a detailed discussion of printing processes.

Users should read carefully the Catalogue Listing Policy section to understand why some stamps are not included in the listings.

The Scott eCatalogues offer a viable alternative or additional choice to the print Scott catalogs. You will find the catalog introduction on by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on “Catalogue Tutorial.”

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