Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Page Density for Popular Worldwide Albums

In preparing my 2012 New Year's Resolutions, I made the mistake of going back to relook at the ones I posted for 2011. I say mistake, because I am chagrined to admit that I only accomplished one of the three. In fact, I had forgotten about two of them! While I have changed my mind about the value of one of these, Joe's recent comment reminded me about the remaining resolution--to look at the density of stamps per page of the major worldwide albums. So here goes.

For printed albums, the maximum number of spaces is provided by those albums that don't give individual boxes for stamps, but rather rows and columns with lines separating the illustrations. This is a layout I associate with albums from H. E. Harris, although you can find plenty of examples back into the 19th century. The illustration shows a part of a page from the 1890 Scott Challenge Postage Stamp Album by way of example.

In the H E Harris Masterworks album for Europe that I still own for some unknown reason, the maximum number of stamps that "officially" can be housed on a page is 90: i.e., no country header and 10 rows of 9 columns for definitives. If you have a mix of small and large Classic era stamps, you might expect a page to hold between 50 and 70 stamps.

Next in maximizing the number of stamps per page is Minkus. The Master and Supreme Global albums, of course, provides boxes for individual stamps. The maximum number of stamps per page looks to be 9 rows of 9 stamps each or 81 spaces. But this is highly unusual as most pages have between 6-7, or less commonly, 8 rows and fewer than 9 stamps per row.

For the Scott Blue International Volume One, I didn't find any pages with more than 7 rows; 6 or 7 rows appeared to be the most common. Eight definitives was the maximum on a row, so this gives the theoretical maximum per page of 56 stamps.

For the Browns, I only browsed the 19th Century volume. It was the same as the Blue, maximum of 7 rows with 8 stamps per row. Most pages had fewer than 8 stamps per row. I remember that this was my biggest surprise when I first saw the Brown albums. I had just assumed there would be fewer stamps on a page than in the Blues.

From what I have seen of the Stanley Gibbons Ideal album pages, the maximum number of rows is 7 and the theoretical maximum of stamps per row is 7, giving us 49 total. Note that the page size of the Ideal is smaller than all but the Steiner.

Finally, the Steiner pages available from stampalbums.com. John checked Malta and came up with an average of 13.6 stamps per page. If I may quote his message: "Sets are together and will start on a new page if they don't fit on the previous page. Each set also has a brief description at the top of the set. The pages tend to have no more than five stamps on a row (definitives) and no more than 6 rows (most pages have 5 or less). Note that the Steiner pages are on letter size paper, a bit smaller than Big Blue." To use the same maximum calculation as above, this should mean no more than 5x6 or 30 stamps per page, about one third of the Harris albums and close to half of the density of the most packed Scott pages.

Obviously, all of this is quick and dirty, but it does give some idea of the differences between albums in terms of how many stamps you can house on a page (and, by extension, whether you need to clear off a shelf in your bookcase or build an addition to your home to house your collection).

Addendum: I randomly checked a number of Scott "Green" Specialty pages and it looks like the maximum density is 7 rows with 7 small stamps per row, or 49 spaces. (I trust everyone is in awe of my impressive multiplication skills. If only there were math checkers like there are spelling checkers.) Of course, most pages have fewer stamps. I believe the Specialty albums have the least dense layout of the Scott albums.


Jim said...

Some more data....
France 1849-1940 regular issues

26 pages for 392 major stamp descriptions(spaces)= 15.1 stamp spaces/page
Range:10 stamps/page-32 stamps/page

Big Blue '69
8 pages for 299 spaces = 37.4 stamps/page
Range:27 stamps/page- 49

For France,BB is almost 2.5X as dense per page compared to the Steiner.

Then the Steiner has more spaces (and pages) because of completeness. So the Steiner has 26 pages vs 8 pages or 3.25X more.

Remember, BB's pages are double sided: really only 4 pages.

So Steiner needs 6.5X "thickness" to present France 1849-1940.

Also, BB here for France offers 76% of the possible stamp spaces. Often, BB offers closer to 50% of the spaces. This would make the Steiner even "thicker"-say 10X- compared to BB.

A Ball park guess is the Steiner will take ~ 10X the space compared to an overstuffed BB. ;-)

DrewM said...

An interesting topic. I wonder, though, if there really are collectors who want "maximum density" of stamps on a page? Are they so thrifty and space efficient to want to eschew all sense of aesthetics? Crowding a page with 70, 80, or 90 stamps makes it overwhelmingly crowded--to my taste anyway--and sort of reminds me of the habit of hinging a second copy of a stamp on top of another copy of the same stamp. How much is too much?

On the other hand . . . every collector has a right to collect in whatever way they want.

At the other end, I find the Steiner 8.5x11 page kind of small and the number of stamps a bit skimpy. Maybe it's just habit, but to me there does seem to be an appropriate size for a stamp page which would be around the Scott country album size or the Davo size -- and about 20-30 stamps seems about the "right" number to look at at one time. The layout of Big Blue/Brown pages seem pretty good to me, also.

I have an old French Ceres album with 50-70 stamps per page. It's awfully cluttered looking and was certainly a middle-level album for modest collectors much like our H.E. Harris and other albums which always had "too much" on a page for my taste.

Minkus albums always seemed to me to suffer from the same overkill, using too few pages with too many stamps on them. When I'm tempted to think of buying a Minkus Global album, all I have to do is look at their overstuffed layouts. It seems to to make each stamp Inignificant and to emphasize large groupings instead. Minkus never did compete very effectively with Scott, and think their cluttered approach played a role in that. Even their paper was thinner than Scott. I have tried a few Minkus albums, but always ended by getting rid of them. Stamps need to be mounted with a little elegance.

What is needed is something more than the Scott International's somewhat skimpy approach which has too many sets with only the very lowest priced stamps given spaces. A few more stamps in many sets could easily be accommodated (and afforded). But I find Steiner (and I have his CD) less appealing because of the small page problem. If there were an easy way to print Steiner's pages on the larger Scott-size pages, that would be just about perfect.

There is one way to do that, and maybe two. You can print Steiner's pages, after all, onto the larger blank Scott pages but, of course, you'll still have the same size layout with the same border so I imagine it will still look a bit cramped. And it would require a large-page format printer to do it. A normal printer can't handle Scott size pages.

A second way, and this would be a little tricky, which I've seen is to print Steiner's pages in 8.5x11 size on a regular printer and then lightly glue them to the larger size pages or Scott or perhaps Davo or another page-maker and put them into that same brand of binder. I've seen this done using a little glue, and if the paper of both the printed page and the mounted page is the same color (it's easiest with pure white, of course) the mounting is barely noticeable, if at all. Lots of pages to glue, of course, and I'm not sure I'd be up to it. But you'd end up with Scott sized pages with Steiner's completeness. An interesting prospect, I'd say.

If Steiner enlarged his page layout to fit Scott album pages, it would be even better -- but what a job that would be! And there is a stamp page website/seller I've seen (and contacted) which does something very much like this, selling Scott sized pages -- both country albums and International albums -- with a Steiner-like complete layout printed on them. About 25-30 cents a page, if I remember correctly, printed for you. No gluing needed, either. Seller is Richard Simpson. Website is called "Stamp Album Pages".

Hard to decide, isn't it? Great articles you're writing, by the way!

Keijo said...

Interesting topic, and some great comments as usual :)

The headline limits your coverage to printed stamp albums, but as I (and lots of other European collectors) prefer stock books and stock pages I'd like to expand the topic a bit for comparisons sake.

I use mainly Lighthouse, Davo or Lindner stockbooks with 10 rows per page to house my collection. I place stamps mostly on each other row: this way tall stamps don't overlap and there's space for notes, expansion etc. if required. Using this method I can accommodate anywhere between 25 (very large) to 40 (regular small defin) stamps per page.

Few times I've tried placing stamps on each row - thus fitting up to 80 (small) stamps on single page. But I have to say that this makes the page look more than overcrowded for my taste.

Happy new Year 2012!


Tommy Haegin said...

Drew made me curious with his comment and I googled for Richard Simpson's website. Here it is:


jldel said...

I like Minkus' Supreme Global Album -- there is far less "sprawl" of volumes. To compare: The Scott International series from 1840-1970 takes up 16 volumes (though with all-jumbo binders you can get it to 10-11 volume).

Part 1A-1 - 1840-1940 (A-E)
Part 1A-2 - 1840-1940 (F-L)
Part 1B-1 - 1840-1940 (L-Q)
Part 1B-2 - 1840-1940 (R-Z)
Part 2A - 1940-49 (A-J)
Part 2B - 1940-49 (J-Z)
Part 3A - 1949-55 (A-K)
Part 3B - 1949-55 (K-Z)
Part 4A - 1956-59 (A-K)
Part 4B - 1956-59 (K-Z)
Part 5 - 1960-63
Part 5A - 1953-65
Part 6 - 1965-76
Part 6A - 1967-68
Part 7A - 1968-71 (A-K)
Part 7B - 1968-71 (L-Z)

Minkus Supreme Global (with far more coverage) for that same time frame takes only a maximum of 4 volumes (using original curved Minkus Supreme Global binders):

Part 1A - 1840-1952 (A-I)
Part 1B - 1840-1952 (I-Z) 1 volume
Part 2A - 1953-1963 (A-I)
Part 2B - 1953-1963 (I-Z) 1 volume
Part 3 - 1944-1966 (A-Z) 1 volume
Part 4 - 1967-1970 (A-Z) 1 volume

That's a maximum spread of 12 album between the two formats. That's a lot of difference; plus Minkus account for watermarks, paper-type, and perforation difference whereas the Scott International doesn't.

I tend to think the Minkus Supreme Global is the better and more thorough album set. Yes, more stamps per pages, so it may seem crowded to some -- but less space consumed by the lesser number of albums needed for comparable coverage.

James said...

I'm a very satisfied user of the Minkus Supreme too, and agree that one of the advantages is that it takes up less shelf space: though with interleaving and stamps any of these albums are going to expand into extra volumes: I have five fat Minkus ones for the years up through the early 1960s.
Just one question for jldel: if you have the recent reissue from Amos, do you know if it has Minkus numbers for the early (pre-1952) pages? If it does, this would be good news, as it would show Amos had used the generally improved and corrected pages from the later editions of the album.