|EUROPA STUDY UNIT
One Way to Organize a EUROPA Collection
Updated and expanded from an article in EN380, Jul-Aug 2007;
revised to reflect changes described in EN404, Jul-Aug 2011
At the Washington 2006 meeting of the Europa Study Unit, Steve Luster (ESU president) suggested some of
the many avenues a Europa collector could explore. One topic that
drew a lot of conversation was the Europa Handbook. The first Europa
handbook was almost a pamphlet by today’s standards -- a small booklet
issued by the ATA in 1962. Still, that was enough to open my eyes to
the many possibilities of Europa collecting. I began my collection in
1959, just in time to witness the mega-explosion of issues in the
1960s. It was, however, fairly easy (even for a teenager of limited
means) to assemble a “complete” collection of what I now call the
Annual Issues. I was using White Ace pages at the time, and that was
all they provided spaces for.
Back in the early ‘60s there were a lot of little independent album
makers. One of these was AYAL, who produced 3-ring album pages in a
style similar to White Ace. AYAL was noted for its clever page layouts
and an ad in Linn’s, showing a sample EUROPA page, really caught my
eye. It showed the 1956 Northern Countries issue, and the layout
captured the feeling of the stamps. I liked it so much, I’ve stuck
with it on my present Lighthouse pages.
That got me thinking that there might be more than what White Ace
was offering. Then came the ATA Europa handbook, which included
agencies, forerunners and historical Europa, and I was on my way to
beginning a very ambitious Europa collection.
The second handbook (called “Special Bulletin #3”, and the one still
being offered today in hardcopy form), was much more ambitious. Begun
in 1965 and updated through 1974, it was organized by then editor of
the Europa News, Ms. Ruth Hellard. It expanded considerably on the
original handbook, and the topics were extensively subdivided. The
organization was a mixture of subject matter and historical timeline. The idea
was to show the connection between the various issues, and to help
the collector decide what he or she wanted to collect. The trap in
doing this was that some issues can fall into multiple categories.
Putting things in several places may be fine for a catalog, but do
you really want to organize a collection that way? Unless you buy more
than one copy of something, where do you decide to put it?
My solution to this problem was to organize my collection into 5 parts.
I came up with this scheme shortly after the second Handbook was
released, and it’s served me well. I computerized the listing in 1983
(my first real use of the IBM PC). The database has migrated from
PC-File through dBase IV to Microsoft Access, but the layout hasn’t
changed very much.
Category I is the core of most Europa collections
– the annual issues.
Category II is the “Agencies of Europa”, including
Council of Europe, ESA (European Space Agency), etc.
- Ia Related Stamps (e.g., the recent 50th anniversary issues)
- Ib Northern Countries Issues
Over a decade after the "swan issue", the Nordic Countries began issuing stamps on a regular basis and have now settled into a bi-annual schedule.
Every even-numbered year the Northern Countries issue a set of stamps with a common theme, much the same way as the annual Europa issues.
- Ic SEPAC Issues
The small European postal aministrations formed SEPAC (Small European Postal Administrations Cooperation) in the 1990s and began issuing stamps with a common theme in 2007.
The SEPAC stamps are issued every odd-numbered year, and many people collect these as another form of Europa.
Category III is European Cooperation in general. Here is where all
those issues that don’t fit neatly into the other categories go. I
later subdivided this as follows:
- IIa is EU (European Union) proper, from the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) to the EU parliament
- IIb is NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and other military alliances;
- IIc is the ERP (European Recovery Program / Marshall Plan).
Each successive category thus becomes a bit more "fringe".
- IIIa is Cooperative efforts that are sponsored or affiliated in some way with an EU entity (e.g., European Conservation, European Heritage Days, European "Years")
- IIIb is any other issue that is evocative of European cooperation
- IIIc is European sporting issues
Category IV is Europa Forerunners:
Collecting every stamp with Churchill or Hitler on it can get
ridiculous. I just include enough to tell a story.
- IVa Prophets or advocates of unity (St. Benedict, Victor
- IVb Historical attempts at peaceful unity (Balkan Entente)
- IVc Military attempts (Caesar, Charlemagne)
Category V is the Eastern Bloc.
This last Category is a lot of fun to collect, as it is considered
way off the beaten path by some. Steve suggested during our meeting
that this would be a fascinating area to delve into, and I have found
that to be the case. Lighthouse prepared a few printed pages for KSZE
issues. These are still offered, but they are far from complete.
I prepared a checklist of these in a previous EN years ago.
Chuck Hall updated this, and it is available in the members' area.
- Va KSZE (German for CSCE - Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe) issues
- Vb Iron Curtain counterparts to Europa (Warsaw Pact - the Soviet Union
counterpart to NATO, COMECON also CMEA - Council for Mutual Economic
Posted by Dana Roper