Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Managing my collection

Tracking what I have and even more importantly what I need is an increasingly difficult task. I try and keep an accurate inventory of my collection. To do this, I have an MS Access database with over 9500 records listing all the items I have. This doesn't mean I have only 9500 items. For example, the Doar Ivri low values (1-6) counts as one item in my database. I have 7 sub-items of this record, including 4 FDC's, 1 set of mint Tabs, 1 cover, and 1 error. In total, there are 13,100 sub items in my list. The majority of the sub items (over 8500) have been scanned in to JPEG form so that I can easily look through them.

I have found that MS Access is really not adept at handling scanned images however. So, I decided to right my own program to take an exported Access database with links to the scanned images and displaying them in a user friendly interface. OK, so maybe it is only user friendly if the user happens to be the developer, but it works for me. I call my program the Ultimate Israel catalog, and have been working on it for a few years. My goal is to have it be a complete Israel catalog. I have taken data from multiple sources and combined it into one place. So far, I have the majority of the Bale catalog (missing errors and interim period mostly), as well as the 4 volume set of special, slogan and post office cancels. Parts of the Wallach definitive catalog has also been added, along with parts of the revenue catalog. I have also pulled show card information from the Carmel catalog. Also added items not in any catalog that I can find, such as the bulletins, maximum cards, remembrance letters, and Duck stamps.
The best part of writing my own program is that I was able to add a simple want list generator. At the click of a button, I know what I am missing. Or, at least that is the theory. The problem is I have boxes of material that are not inventoried yet. The single biggest category that I haven't inventoried yet are the Post Office Opening cancellations. Out of 10,254 items in my simple want list, 7,815 are cancellations. Over half of these, 3,986, are post office openings, and the majority should come off my want list once I catch up with my inventory. The rest are Slogan Cancels or Special cancels. The second largest area is FDC Bulletins. As discussed previously, I am missing very few of the bulletins in mint condition, but I also have a fair amount that have the stamp attached and cancelled as a FDC. Still, i show that I am missing over 1200 FDC bulletins, including both formats, and the Hebrew and English versions.
Other than these categories, my want list is pretty manageable. IRC's, private MAX cards, Egypt and Jordan overprinted Palestine are the next biggest gaps in my collection, and none of these are over 100 items. Of course, my want list is only as good as the source data I have entered into the database. If I don't know if something exists, I can't add it to my want list. For example, I have yet to add plate blocks to the want list generation logic. There are 2 reasons for this. First, I have not had a chance to scan and inventory the plate blocks I have (~10 albums worth, from 3 different collections I bought on E-bay), so any want list would be inaccurate. Second, I am not sure how to account for issues with multiple plate blocks. Most definitive issues have multiple printing dates and plate block varieties, and the earlier commemoratives also have different perforation varieties in the plate blocks (imperf corners, fully perforated corners, partially perforated corners), left vs right plate blocks, and even different plate #'s (for example, the second coin issue has plate 1 and plate 2, and the first festivals issue has 6 different plate positions). I have yet to find a catalog that has a comprehensive list of plate blocks. Anyone out there know of one?

1 comment:

AmyBow said...

Maybe you can package your database software and sell it? If nothing like it exists on the market maybe it will be a new revenue stream to cover the expense of your stamp-buying habit...