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.