So, that disclaimer out of the way, I've been thinking about how to represent a stamp catalogue and collections in a SQL database. I've been playing with MySQL Workbench as a simple design tool and while it's cute it takes quite a lot of work. A sheet or paper and a pen is a bit simpler at this stage.
So, what have I got so far? Not a lot to be honest. Below are some potentially incoherent ramblings and comments are welcomed.
There are the actual stamps that we possess - the physical bits of paper, and there is the issue - the details that are common to all the copies of the same stamp. Then in turn those stamps are likely to have been issued by and issuer as part of a series made up of a range of similar designs and a variety of values.
Breaking down the highlighted terms above:
- stamps - these are the real bits of paper, each with it's own properties
- issue - this is a description of the features common to the "same" stamp
- issued/issuer - stamps are issued somewhere and somewhen by an recognised authority. This may be a national post office or a similar organisation, normally recognised by the UPU
- series - issues are usually grouped into a series, all issued on the same date
- designs - each issue will be based on a design which is sometimes used for multiple issues or a whole series
- values - each issue in a series will typically be of a specific value and a series may simply be the same design consisting of multiple values (of a single currency)
In addition to the above there are common properties for stamps that can be applied to an issue:
- watermark (and perhaps paper type)
In turn, individual stamps may have their own properties which are either additional to the above or sometimes, in rare cases replacing the above:
- used / unused / cancelled-to-order
- quality: mint, fine, good, poor etc.
- quantity: single stamp or part of a partial or complete sheet (plus shape of sheet)
- location - where have you put your stamp? shelf, album, page etc.
There are also more obscure properties that fall between an issue and stamps from that issue:
Once I started to look at the list of features and separate them out between the catalogue and the collection - the distinction being issues go in a catalogue and stamps from that catalogue go in a collection - it became a little clearer but there is still a great deal of overlap. There are all these characteristics/properties/details - not sure what's the best term yet so I am going to be a technologist and stick to properties.
These properties - the ones above and those that I haven't yet included - can be grouped into categories such as physical, historical, commercial and so on.
Enough for now, I'm off to read more about Ruby on Rails.
Comments and addition, please!