Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Combining Scott Blue Volumes I and II

I have been threatening for some time to expand my worldwide collection beyond 1940. This finally came to pass after I recently purchased a 30% full Blue Volume II covering 1940-1949. One of the reasons I had been delaying is the assumption that my 1969 edition of the Volume One would not play nice with a Volume Two — I would need the current four part Volume One to put them together seamlessly.

But having thrown caution to the wind, I proceeded to try integrating the two albums. I am pleased to report that while the result was not perfect by any means, it was better than expected. How much better? You can see below via a 4-point scale that I used keep track of how well each country combined.

(Before getting to the results, I should note that Scott incorporated some changes into my 1969 edition that facilitates combining with later volumes. Which is another way of saying, if you have an earlier edition, your mileage may vary. I also want to recognize reader Keith and his index to the countries in Volumes I-III. His work made my tabulation a whole lot easier.)

My 4-point scale yielded the following groups of countries:

Group 1 - countries combine perfectly, i.e., all regulars/commems for 1840-1949 come together in chronological order as do all back of the book stamps (if any);

Group 2 - regulars/commems remain together, but one or more categories of back of the book stamps are separated (for example, you might have 1840-1940 semi-postals followed by 1840-1940 airmails followed by 1940-1949 semi-postals);

Group 3 - 1940-1949 regulars/commems are separated from 1840-1940 regulars/commems by one or more pages of BOB issues; however the entire country remains together;

Group 4 - a page from an adjacent country in Volume One is getting in the way of adding the Volume Two pages. This is invariably caused when Volume One starts a new country on the reverse side of a page;

Not applicable - these are Volume I countries that are not in Volume II or, much less often, vice-versa.

So specifically, here is the count of how many countries fell into each group:

Group 1 - 99 countries;
Group 2 - 72 countries;
Group 3 - 29 countries;
Group 4 - 10 countries.

The Group 4 countries in my album are:  Brunei, Czechoslovakia Bohemia & Moravia, Czechoslovakia Slovakia, French Colonies, India Convention States, India Feudatory States, Karelia, Malaysian States, Mongolia, and Serbia. (Remember, earlier editions may combine differently.)

I have to confess that Group 4 could look worse than I have it, depending upon how you want to rank the Indian and Malyasian States. The problem is that in Volume I Scott has crammed as many as half-a-dozen Indian Feudatory States and Malyasian/Straits Settlements States on a page. The Indian Convention States also don’t fit well into the ranking because they are on “blank” pages. If I did a literal ranking of the States then you would have 14 more Group 4s. I felt it was a little unfair to skew the results this way, since the States do stay together even if out of order. So I only added three 4’s to the above tabulation rather than 14. You may feel differently. Or maybe you are a true-Blue optimist and think there are only seven countries in Group 4!

Back to the big picture: Not unexpectedly, my two stuffed jumbo binders are now three stuffed jumbo binders. It took six packages plus part of a seventh of glassine interleaving (i.e., 600+ sheets) to accommodate the new pages.

Ideally I would have liked everything to be Group 1, but I can live with BOB stamps being split. Regular/commems intermingled with postage due stamps or whatever are more irritating (for those of us used to the Scott way of separating out BOB stamps.) But the real stinkers are the Group 4’s. I’ve thought about three approaches for these:

1) put in a duplicate page from another Volume I that I leave blank and cross through or disuse somehow;

2) make my own pages to substitute for the offending ones;

3) put the Volume II page(s) out of chronological sequence. I.e., Begin with 1940-1949 and then 1840-1940.

Solution 3 is the easiest but causes the most cognitive dissonance. Solution 2 is the most elegant solution but involves the most work. Solution 1 requires a second album that can be dismembered (admittedly something most Blue collectors will accumulate) and is the least attractive visually.

To make this clearer, lets look at Brunei. The first image shows Brunei as it would be if I didn’t try to improve the integration. Brunei 1840-1940 is on the front of a page and Bulgaria begins on the back. That would be followed by Brunei 1940-1949 on the front, a blank reverse, and then the rest of Bulgaria. Nice, no? No.

Solution 3 is shown in the second image. Brunei 1940-1949 on the front, a blank on the reverse, Brunei 1840-1940 on the front, and Bulgaria starting on the reverse. Better? Maybe. I think if there were more Group 4's this would less acceptable.

I have glossed over a few issues that I consider to be minor but you may not. For example, I ignored the blank reverses that now appear within many countries, say dividing the 1940 issues from the 1941. (You could argue this is a feature—i.e., more places to put stamps that Scott omitted.) I also did not assess demerits if the names of countries did not match (e.g., Abyssinia/Ethiopia). Finally, should I ever add Volume Three (1950-55) some of my current Group 1’s in particular may become 2’s.

Purists out there will no doubt be bothered by some or all of these, but I can’t imagine purists ever being happy with the Blues in the first place.

P.S. I should mention that I still plan to keep statistics as to how much of Volume One I have completed, but I won't be doing the same for Volume Two. 


Jim said...

I think Solution 3 is entirely acceptable, as the reverse chronological order does not really bother me.

Solution 1, adding duplicate pages from another Big Blue, and crossing out sections not used, seems to be the most common approach I've seen with combined Part I & II feeder albums. Although effective, not real attractive (the crossed out parts).

If one is going to make one's own pages, and all the time and trouble, why not just go to the Steiner? ;-)

James said...

Great to hear that you've moved into the 1940s--the stamps offer some wonderful insights into the war and its aftermath.

In terms of combining volumes: my solution (not with Scott, but the issue is the same with any album brand) is some creative double-sided copying. This involves photocopying, and then cutting and pasting existing album pages to get exactly what you need. It's fiddly to set up (perhaps only worth doing for your class 4) but once you get the right measurements and orientations its not difficult to do.

I did this for my Minkus Supreme album, to get rid of those few instances when two different countries appear on opposite side of the same leaf--eg Guam and Hawaii.

The main challenge I found was getting blank paper that matches closely enough in weight and color...but the end result is very satisfying.

Drew Maddock said...

Good to see you moving forward in time. I've always wanted to collect beyond the somewhat arbitrary cutoff of 1940, partly because the post-1940 stamps are the ones I remember (many of them, anyway) from when I first started collecting. So, I'll go well into the 1970s, I think, once I'm organized (and have the time).

I bought the Big Blue Volume 1 recently (actually four vols now, as you know) and it cost a pretty penny, so took me a year or more to convince myself. The selling points were the page layouts which mesh well with later volumes (combining countries' pages all together) and the desire for new paper, not old.

As for your problem, it's a tough one. I find that organizing the pages out of chronology bothers me most of all. Probably a result of my seeing stamps as historically showing the evolution of nations and their stamps over time. I'd experiment with photocopying and printing out alternative pages somehow. Perhaps even purchasing the key pages from albumpages(dot)net which can make up Scott pages for you. Or just use blank or quadrilled pages and repeat the same Scott layout on pages that allow you to separate each country. But I'd keep it chronological.

Bob said...

All excellent comments. I bought some blank quadrilled pages to use as needed but have yet to put these to use. I must say I am intrigued with the of using blank pages and pasting a copy/scan of the original. Antonius Ra had instructions for this in a thread on the new Stamp Forum bulletin board:

Drew, I'm glad you decided to buy the four part Internationals. Just wish I had gone that route. Nevertheless, I suppose the bottom line of my post was that combining Volume I with later volumes wasn't a disaster.

Scott Keim said...

You might combine solution 1 with a variant of James' suggestion, using a fully blank page adhered to the unwanted side of each of the 2 offending pages to completely cover over the duplicated page. This eliminates the unsightly crossed off pages, though they'll be twice as thick and you'll need to use archival adhesive. If it works well enough you can use it for the other categories as well (BOB etc).

Mark_Tuba said...

I just got tired of all the struggles with the Blue over the years and finally, biting the bullet, I launched into a five-year fight to get Scott Specialty albums. Presto - no more problems of stamps with out a space or stamps that hook on each other.

Bob said...

Mark, I think an excellent case can be made for the Specialty albums as the best albums for a worldwide collection. I'm not surprised though that it took you 5 years to acquire all of those that were out-of-print. How many albums did you end up with?

Bud said...

I always enjoy reading about display and preservation strategies folks use for their stamps. Since I don't mind looking in two or more albums to view, say, Canada or Austria, I've never tried to merge. I've found that resale is better when the albums retain their original collation. Moreover, the page size and post hole location varies from album to album, making the fore-edge alignment shaggy.

DrewM said...

I agree with the concern that pasting onto pages may make the whole album start to look messy. If there is a way to photocopy or scan and print new pages, I'd do that. But they'd have to be Scott Int'l sized pages, and how do you do that since that's not a standard sized page for a printer?

I'm starting to think that as many of us naturally adopt Scott's International / Big Blue, it's then a natural next step to get frustrated after awhile with its layout, it's omitting many affordable stamps, and so on. And then the step just naturally seems to begin to consider the Scott Specialty albums which are, after all, original comprehensive Scott album layout from the original International album before they turned it into the less comprehensive 'Junior' International that became the Big Blue we have now.

It's either buy Specialty albums separately for countries you choose to collec or purchase the Brown album pages sold by Subway for the entire world. Or find some old musty 100 year old Browns in hardcover non-looseleaf bindings and live with them. Or use Steiner pages in the smaller 8.5x11 three-ring binder size, but I don't find that appealing. It just seems too "un-album" like for my taste.

Ain't discussing all the limitations of stamp albums fun?

John said...

I've struggled with the same questions as Drew. As far as creating new international pages goes, most printers have a manual feed or adjustable print trays that can handle the blank international size pages. You would have to adjust the page size in the printer settings of whichever software you are using. I agree with the un-album like nature of the Steiner pages. I have a few Steiner countries sitting in regular binders from Staples and it doesn't look right. There are higher end binders out there. Maybe that would help.

Jim said...

Regarding Steiner PDF pages...

If one isn't particularly enamored with 8.5 X 11 size page,one can always go to the time and trouble of printing out larger pages- either at a print shop, or obtain a larger page format printer.

The Steiner PDF files per se can be printed on 8.5 X 11 or larger size paper.

In other words, one should not rule out a Steiner solution simply because one doesn't care for the 8.5 X 11 size.... ;-)

DrewM said...

Jim is correct that Steiner's page layouts can be printed on larger sized pages like blank Big Blue or Specialty album pages.

But (there's always a but) that requires a large format printer to handle the larger size pages. Normal printers won't handle larger pages, as far as I can see. So you'll need to spend a few hundred dollars for that, and most likely the printer will only be used for these pages. Some might find that a little wasteful.

And you're still going to have the 8.5 x 11 page layout printed on the larger page. You can't make the margins of Steiner's layout any bigger so they fit larger pages more appropriately. It might not look odd to many people, and I'm not too bothered by it, but it does look a little odd to have such a small border and layout with larger than necessary margins.

These pages would fit nicely into the Big Blue binder (or Specialty binders if you printed on those pages),and so as Jim says this is a viable option. But with these limitations in mind. I'm considering it, anyway.

Jim said...

Here is a link to Palo pages in a larger format- they of course use the Steiner format.

BTW, their FAQ section has...

"I'm looking for a worldwide album. Do you have one?

No. Worldwide albums are hard to find because it is extremely difficult to collect worldwide nowadays. A worldwide collector would need to spend over $40,000 per year just to keep up with new stamps. Most collectors specialize and concentrate on individual areas or countries."


Bob said...

Sort of tangential, but I thought I remembered reading something a while back about folding (!) blank International pages to get them through a printer. Here is the link if anyone is interested (there are a couple of followup replies, too):

DrewM said...

The folding pages to print them idea is something I never would have thought of, but I just can't see how that can be done without wasting a lot of pages. Surely, you're going to overfold some pages or get the printed part off center or . . .? I imagine this would work with some practice, though, for a limited number of pages. If you wanted to print hundreds of larger format pages, that's going to take forever, though. And the way your printer runs the page through the machinery would seem to matter a lot. I have an HP printer that turns the page around 180 degres as I think most printers do. How in the world could you ever get a folded page through that way? It's straight through or nothing, as the commenter said about this method So I suppose this might work for a few large format pages, but not with many pages.

As for Palo pages, they seem awfully expensive to me and it's still the schoolkid 3-ring album format I've never thought looked very sophisticated. I like the European multi-ring style or the Scott 2-post style. Old fashioned I guess. I do like their comment about the impossibility of collecting the whole world!

Keijo said...

"Worldwide albums are hard to find because it is extremely difficult to collect worldwide nowadays. A worldwide collector would need to spend over $40,000 per year just to keep up with new stamps."
I do like their comment about the impossibility of collecting the whole world!

At least they did not say it was impossible - just 'extremely diffucult' ;)

I can't understand why they pulled up the $40,000$ figure? It may hold true if buying EVERYTHING from new issue services/dealers. But how many collectors would really do that? Complete everything in one go? And buy every stamp from new issue service/dealer at face (or even higher)? Where's the fun of collecting in that. You don't even collect the 'old worldwide' that way; why would you do anything as such for the modern?

Just my 5 cents worth,

actuary said...

I used to fold International pages along the frame line nearest the holes. You need to tape it down, print one side, then reverse the fold, tape it, and print the other side. Once you get the settings right on your album page program, it works fine. But the settings for left pages are right pages are different,and it is easy to fold and tape the wrong side, so it is tedious. I finally bought a wide carriage printer for about $190.

Chris W. said...

Bob et al.,

I think one of the best solutions to the shortcomings of the Big Blue might be to purchase a wide-format printer and print out Steiner pages onto blank Scott International pages. Of course, this option is not new and has been mentioned by others, with some stated downsides of having to spend “a few hundred dollars” for a wide-format printer and the plain boarders of the Steiner pages, etc.

Well, I guess prices of these printers have gone down over the years as I recently saw an Epson WorkForce WF-7610 “all in one” wide-format printer that sells for $149 on Amazon and seems to have quite good reviews. Plus, I was reading on one of the stamp forums (can’t remember which one) about ways to relatively easily remove the boarders on the Steiner PDFs, which can then be printed out on blank Scott International pages. So, if you don’t like the 8.5 x 11 format of Steiner pages, you can print out what you want for your collection or if you want to just add additional pages to supplement your Big Blue, this should work too.

I am thinking about this route.
Has anyone tried this?

DrewM said...

Chris mentioned an Epson wide-format printer that will print Steiner pages onto larger (Big Blue or Scott Specialty) sized blank pages. That seems like a very workable idea to me, though I haven't actually tried it.

That printer is an "all-in-one" printer. If you wanted one without the scanning and other functions, there's another model that might work:
Epson WorkForce WF-7110.

I have no experience with either of these printers, so I'm certainly not reccommending either one,but I imagine they or another wide-format printer would work fine.

What intrigues me even more is Chris' suggestion that there may be ways to "relatively easily remove the borders on the Steiner PDFs, which can then be printed out on blank Scott International pages." If that can be done, printing Steiner pages without borders onto "blank" Scott pages (meaning blank but with Scott borders) would be a great solution.

The problem with most "blank" pages like Scott's, of course, is that they're blank of stamp layouts but not really completely blank since they have a border around the blank area. Printing a Steiner album page onto such a "blank" page would leave you with two borders -- Scott's and Steiner's -- on each page, not a very appealing solution.

If there isn't a way to remove the Steiner borders, you'd have to find some source for Scott-sized truly all-blank pages. I think I remember Subway Stamp Shop selling such pages, but I'm not sure. Or maybe you could have such pages printed and hole-punched by a local printing company. But that does complicate things.

Nevertheless, with one of these printers and Steiner's pages, maybe it is possible to add pages to a Big Blue where they're needed and solve some of its limitations. You could even add pages for all the stamps (up to whatever year you choose) for certain countries. Of course, if I ever got tempted to do that, it might be easier to just buy a Scott's specialty album for that country. On the other hand, most of those are a few hundred dollars each, so if I went that route for a lot of countries I'd be making a major investment. Hence my interest in finding a way to print additional pages for me Big Blue volumes where necessary.

If anyone has information on how the Steiner page borders might be removed, I hope they'll post it or a link to it.

DrewM said...

I'll answer my own query. I've located the website that discusses removing borders from the Steiner pages and gives at least two programs useful in doing so. The preferred one appears to be called Scribus.

Here's a link to tutorials about the program which can be downloaded for free from the Scribus website.

Here's Scribus. Just open "Download" and select.

I've tried none of this, so I have no evaluations, but whenever I have time I will look at them. If anyone does try, let us know how this works.

Chris W. said...

Yes! Scribus, that's the program and the link I saw on another forum that I couldn’t remember.
I don’t have any experience with either of the Epson wide-format printers either, but I was amazed at how inexpensive ($150 on Amazon) they now are. I will stay that I recently bought a “regular” Epson printer that I use to print out my Steiner pages, and it is far superior to my previous HP printer.
I am going to play around with Scribus and trying to delete the boarders from Steiner pages over the holidays, and if that works without too much pain, I will seriously think about getting an Epson wide-format printer. [if you do the same, I’d love to hear your experiences too]

Just a little background from my perspective…I have been collecting using 2-part Big Blue albums and became a bit frustrated with all the limitations in coverage, etc. that we are all familiar with. So, almost exactly a year ago, I purchased the Steiner pages and started printing out pages for which I had stamps as I began to (slowly) migrate stamps over. Well, somewhere along the way, I began to have second thoughts about doing this…I suddenly (well, maybe not so suddenly) realized that I’m going to end up with 20-30 (or more!) binders just for 1840-1940 (after reading some of Jim J.’s blog posts), and most of those pages will only have a hand-full of stamps on them. Plus, I just don’t like the 8.5 x 11 inch format and having them in 3-ring binders. Also, when I was using Big Blue before (and other worldwide albums as a kid), there was a sense of joy/accomplishment when I added a stamp to my album. I was ‘filling spaces’ and my album and album page was just a little less empty. Now using Steiner pages, it seems like every new stamp I add to my collection, I have to print out a new page and even though I’m adding a stamp to my collection, I’m also adding several empty spaces too!

So, now my plan is to just keep going with my Big Blues, perhaps supplementing with blank quadrille pages along the way, until I fill up a certain country or just want to go more in depth in a certain area or country, then maybe as Drew said, just replace the entire country (up to 1940 in my case) with Steiner pages with boarders removed and printed out of blank Scott International pages. That way, you are just adding to your Big Blue and not pulling out individual countries into separate “specialty collections” and will still be able to house everything in a relatively few number of matching International binders.

Bob said...

I just love it when I can go out for a long lunch and when I get back, the problems are solved. Thanks, Chris and Drew.

Chris W. said...

Hi all,

I just wanted to report on a very very easy way to edit Steiner pages that can then be printed out on blank Scott International pages (with a wide format printer). This does not require downloading and learning how to use any additional software like Scribis or Openoffice, etc. One caveat, however, is that I am using a Mac, but should be able to do this with a PC too. By getting a free conversion app, I was able to easily covert the Steiner PDF to a PowerPoint file. Then, I could very easily make any changes I wanted like removing the boarder, changing the fonts to more closely resemble the font used in the Big Blue (if anyone knows the precise font used in Big Blue, that would be great to know), and moving everything over to offset for the binding and centering. Then, all I had to do is “save as” a PDF and was able to now have all my changes back in PDF format.

I was originally afraid that doing the conversion to PowerPoint, everything would be shifted, but I compared the two files side by side, and they looked identical. Now my main purpose in doing this was to remove the boarders in order to be able to print onto blank International pages, but of course folks can do this if they want to add additional text, add Scott numbers, bold certain text, change fonts, etc and then print out on 8.5 x 11 format as usual.

With all the interests in being able to edit Steiner pages, I just wanted to let folks know that this is a very easy way to do it.

DrewM said...

Chris, I'd love to know what "free conversion app" does this and how it works (not being the most computer literate). Can you give more details?

And why PowerPoint? Were other formats not as workable? I would have expected some typical word processing format to have worked, so PowerPoint seems a bit of an odd choice. But it it works, it works.

Subway Stamp Shop does sell all blank International sized pages -- blank without any borders. Usual "blank" have no stamp spaces, but do have borders. These have holes punched and nothing at all on the page. This might allow printing of Steiner pages without the necessity of removing his border, although perhaps the resulting layout inside his border would look too small on these slightly larger pages (larger than 8 x 11.5", I mean). Not sure. I don't have a large format printer (yet) that will handle the Big Blue sized pages, so can't experiment.

I hadn't thought about altering the type font but that would be one more useful step to integrating these homemade pages more seamlessly into Big Blue. Thanks very much for the info!

Chris W. said...


It is just called “PDF Converter Free” and I got it free from the App Store. It is super easy, just open the program and drag and drop your PDF file onto it and it saves the file as a PowerPoint. There are similar ways to convert to Word, but when I did that, I got a file with only the text…all the formatting and boxes were gone!

I have used PowerPoint for many years and am very familiar with the program and find it to be the easiest and simplest of the graphic programs. By the way, I recently requested a printed sample of a Steiner page printed out on Scott International sized paper (from the US printer of Steiner pages) and it does not look bad at all. There is an 1.25 inch left margin and a 0.75 inch right margin. Unfortunately, the holes were too close to the edge and the paper is thinner than my Big Blue pages, so I will not go that route.

As a test, I removed the Steiner boarders (just click on the boarder and hit delete!) and changed the font to “Bookman Old Style” which is pretty close to that used in Scott International (but not exact), and bolded the country name. Then you can “select all” on the page, “group” it and move it over a little to give you a larger left margin, and you are ready to print on a blank (either with or without boarders) Scott International page.

Keijo said...

I think the 'issue' is with the app, not with (pdf-)format.

I opened Abu Dhabi PDF from Steiner pages, converted it with Adobe Acrobat XI to Word-file, and it opened accurately.

But the benefit of converting it as PowerPoint is that (at least with Acrobat) it creates the page frame as slidemaster-element, and instead of individually hitting delete on each page, I can simply remove/replace it once from the master slide, and it's gone from all pages.


James said...

This is really helpful about tweaking Steiner pages, I'll definitely try this when I get back home.
Is it possible to scan a border of choice, and add that in? This would effectively give the option of replacing the Steiner border with Scott international, MInkus, or whatever.

ChrisW said...

I have not tried to scan a border and use that. I suspect it is possible, but I would think it would be far easier to just buy blank pages of your particular album and print out Steiner pages on them. That way, you are sure to have the correct paper weight and color to match, plus you would have the correct size holes in the correct place.

James said...

Just scanned a Minkus page in Photoshop Elements, cut out everything but the border, and then pasted onto a Steiner page in Powerpoint. It couldn't be easier, and I'm really glad to know about this.
For me, this is a much better solution than attempting to use Minkus blank pages. For one thing, I live in England, so blank pages (Minkus or Scott) have to be sent from the US and the postage is exorbitant. But also, I suspect that it's much cheaper in the US to get a big batch of sheets of the right general color and weight, cut to size, than it is to order from the publisher. Really it depends on how much of this you are doing (I do a lot.)
So thanks to Chris W for opening up such an easy way of repurposing Steiner pages for individual use. I'm especially glad its possible to delete or move specific stamp spaces--that really helps in making up pages to add to an existing album.

ChrisW said...


I’m glad that this method is helpful to you. I just wanted to clarify a couple of points with you. Are you using a PC or Mac? This works well with my Mac, but I was unsure how well it would work with a PC. Also, just to clarify, does your Minkus boarder on the Steiner page come out as 8.5 x 11 inch or does it print out where it is supposed to on a Minkus-sized page?

Hadn’t really thought about doing this for Minkus pages as the layout of the two are so different. The layout of the Steiner pages more closely matches the Scott Internationals, especially if you want to change the text font.

James said...

I'm using a PC. The Minkus border appears onscreen at the right size and it can be moved around as needed (like any element in Powerpoint).
No one in Europe uses 8.5 by 11 inch paper, which is one of the problems with Steiner--the left margin is very narrow with the narrower A4 size. I haven't yet printed out my sample pages on my Minkus-sized paper, as I get that done at a local printing shop. I can't see it causing any trouble, though.

DrewM said...

To simplify and clarify, I’ve tried to organize each step from these last few postings. It would be really helpful if those who’ve made these suggestions could take a minute or two and see if these are accurate? Am I missing anything? Is this described correctly. I’ve also added some questions at the end which I hope can get answered.

Procedure by Chris W:
How to convert Steiner PDF files to PowerPoint (PPt) files using the “PDF Convertor Free” application (available online), then back to PDF files.

1. Drag and drop PDF file into PDF Convertor which will then save it as a PPt file.
2. Make necessary changes in PPt. These include: remove border, change fonts, add text, add Scott catalog numbers, move page layout over for better margins, etc.. To remove borders, for example, just click on the border and hit “delete”.

Converting to PowerPoint (at least with Acrobat) creates the page frame as a slidemaster-element, and instead of individually hitting delete on each page, the border can be removed/replaced once from the master slide, and it will be gone from all pages.

3. Other possible changes: Font can be changed to ‘Bookman Old Style’ (similar to Scott International page font) and country name can be boldfaced.
4. Choose “Select All” (from Edit menu) to move page layout over a little for larger left hand margin.
5. Save as PDF file.
6. Print on a blank page with or without borders.

Keijo Alternate A:
1. Open Steiner PDF file
2. Convert with Adobe Acrobat XI to a Word file

James Alternate B:
1. Scan a (Scott, Minkus, or other) page in Photoshop Elements
2. Cut out everything but the border, and then paste onto a Steiner page in Powerpoint.
3. Border can be moved around and other elements (text, etc.) added before printing.

My Questions:

First for Keijo who suggested using Adobe Acrobat XI to convert Steiner’s PDF files to Word. I don’t understand what this accomplishes? Is that better than converting to a PowerPoint file? Isn’t getting the pages into PPt files the best option because it allows elements to be easily moved around and elements like borders to be more easily eliminated from all ‘slides’ or pages at once?

Also questions for James who suggests scanning an existing page and then eliminating the stamp spaces in order to save only the page border – which can then be pasted onto a Steiner page. This confused me.

First: In scanning a page what do you save the page as? A PDF file? If so, do you then convert it to PPt? Or do you just save it initially as a PPt file? Which format allows you to edit the page to eliminate the stamp borders, and so on?

Second: Why “paste onto a Steiner page”? Steiner pages already have a border. Doesn’t that create two borders? Wouldn’t you have to remove the Steiner page borders first (using Chris’ method), then paste the new border onto these now borderless pages? It’s the order of doing things that confuses me

This is very exciting stuff which if organized clearly enough will alow us to expand use the Big Blue (or other) albums by adding our own self-made supplementary pages. The alternative might be to abandon these albums for individual country albums or blank albums. Adding our own page layouts based on Steiner's pages will allow more depth in areas we're more interested in. I think it's a great idea.

ChrisW said...

Along these same lines, there's a very interesting thread on Stamp Community Forum.

Thought I could paste the link in here, but unable to do so.

Anyway, there is a thread called, "Album Review: United States Albums" If you go about middle way down on page 5, there is a guy named "southpaw" who has made some beautiful classic looking pages by modifying Steiner pages. Check it out, you will enjoy seeing his album!

By the way, I think James' point was to remove the Steiner page board and replace it with a boarder matching Minkus, but I will let him clarify.

Bob said...

I don't have anyway to post a clickable url either, but you can try pasting this into your browser:

keijo said...

Hi Drew,

The reason I mentioned Word is that

a) it's a very good alternative (though PowerPoint lets you make formatting easier without any tweaks), and

b) Word has got other some features (such as references and track changes) that are lacking from PowerPoint. Whether or not these are useful is fully a matter personal needs.

Happy New to everyone (still 11½ hours to go on this side of the globe)


James said...

To answer DrewM's questions:
1. Yes, I'm assuming that the Steiner border has been removed before pasting the new scanned one in through Powerpoint.
2. You can scan an album page using any format that Powerpoint will read: I used tif files. (It's a good idea to scan at a high dpi, as they are bitmap images reproducing line elements.)
Sorry if my original reply was too brief, and thanks for setting out the basic regime. And have a great new year! I may celebrate by buying a large-format printer....

ChrisW said...

Hey guys,

If you want to see any example of a page I edited from Steiner, go over the my recent thread on The Stamp Forum.

Happy New Year!

DrewM said...

I have a procedural question about converting Steiner pages for use as Big Blue sized pages. I converted some Steiner pages to PowerPoint pages which is just a "save as" function. At that point, you're supposed to be able to edit out the Steiner border (so you can then add whatever new border you want). As ChrisW says, "click on the border and delete" it. But that does not work for me. Clicking does nothing. The border appears to be a permanent element.

I really want to be able to do this. Does anyone have any idea why this is not working? Is there a step missing in these directions, for example? Is there an alternate way to highlight the border in order to delete it?

When I click on Steiner's other page elements, his boxes, descriptions, and so on, I can move them around with no problem. But the actual page borders do no respond at all. They appear to be permanent. Any thoughts?

Or does anyone know of another simple format to drop Steiner's pages into which would allow removing his borders? Not a computer expert here, obviously. Thanks.

ChrisW said...

HI Drew,

If your file in truly in Powerpoint (your file has a .ppt or .pptx extension), you should be able to click on any object and move it, delete it, resize it, etc. If you are able to do this with the boxes and text, you should be able to do this with the border too.

The only thing that might be an issue with the way you are doing this is that you say that you are using “save as” to convert your Steiner pages to Powerspoint. In my experience, you should not be able to do this (at least I can’t on my computer). I got a free app, here’s the link for it:

Once installed, I just open the app, then “drag and drop” my Steiner pdf file into the open window and hit the “convert” button. That converts the Steiner pdf file to a Powerpoint pptx file. Then I’m able to make any modifications I want.

By the way, after I’m finished with all my modifications in Powerpoint, I do convert it back to a PDF by using the “save as” in my Powerpoint program (this may not be the same with PCs [I’m using a Mac] or older versions of Powerpoint.

Hope that helps.


DrewM said...

Woohoo! It works just fine now. I tried this on some Steiner pages and was able to remove the border easily. Thanks to ChrisW once again.

I had been unable to convert the Steiner files to PowerPoint, but now I can. I couldn't be happier as this now allows me to print Steiner pages onto blank Big Blue pages with or without a border (and onto other blank album pages, too). The only limitation is the size of the pages my printer can print. For Big Blue pages, you'd need access to a "wide bed" printer as a normal printer won't handle the larger page size.

The benefit is clear as this will allow adding more depth to certain countries in almost any album for which blank album pages are available to print on -- or printing entire albums on larger sized pages.

Using "all blank" Big Blue pages from Subway Stamp Shop, it's possible to print the Steiner pages "as is" without changing anything.

With "blank" (no stamp spaces but with a page border), you'd need to remove Steiner's page border and then print your pages onto the bordered page. You could, of course, also add your own border -- either to an "all blank" page or a Steiner page with its border removed. There are a number of possibilities.

Here's the procedure in my own words, taken from what Chris said above. I find putting it in my own words makes it clearer. Again, if anyone thinks there's a step missing or another mistake, let us know. I tried this with some Steiner China pages, and I was easily able to convert them to a PowerPoint file in which I was able to remove the border.

1. Save your Steiner pdf page files to your computer's Documents folder
2. Open the PDF Converter Free App (saved in your Applications Folder). It's available online for free, as noted above.
3. Drag and drop any Steiner pdf file from the Documents folder into the now open PDF Converter Free window.
4. Hit “Convert” button which will convert the file to a PowerPoint file.
5. With the file now in PowerPoint format, you can modify the Steiner pages (deleting borders, etc.)
6. When completed, convert the now modified PowerPoint file back to a PDF file using the “Save As” function (which will save the now changed folder back to your Documents folder)

This breaks the frustrating limitation that had required "print your own" album pages to be printed on 8.5 x 11 inch 3-ring binder pages using the exact border and layout they came in. This was a size some found too small and unappealing. Others disliked the too-plain page borders.

Being able to print Steiner pages to any size blank pages opens up a lot of possibilities. I'm not sure if this makes the preprinted stamp album a little less appealing -- or more workable since it can be supplemented so easily to make up for its deficiencies. I suppose it depends on your point of view.

ChrisW said...

I’m so glad this was able to work out for you. I have not purchased a wide-format printer and tried printing onto blank International pages myself, so I look forward to hearing back from you to see how well it actually works. One thing you will need to keep in mind is to make sure you print with an offset for binding so that the left margin is larger than the right margin (as opposed to it printing in the center of the page). Either this will be a setting on your computer’s “print setup” screen after you install your printer (when you’re printing out the PDF) or you could do it “manually” in Powerpoint. In PP, after you remove the Steiner border, just “select all” then “group” it and move everything over to the right a certain amount to give you the correct sized left and right margins. I assume this will take some trial and error to get it just right.

I’ll be interested to hear how you feel about how well these pages “blend in” with your Scott International pages or if they will stand out like a sore thumb. Now that I’ve made some nice modifications to my Steiner pages so they don’t look so plain (adding vintage borders, changing fonts, adding watermark images, etc.), I’m still trying to decide whether or not to just completely make the switch over to Steiner pages.

James said...

Just to add my thanks to Drew for working this out. For some time now I've been making up pages (sometimes from other albums, sometimes from Steiner) using old-fashioned paste-up and photocopying routines learned from my days working on a student newspaper. The pages have looked good in my Minkus albums, but the method you outline will be a lot easier, faster and less messy!

DrewM said...

Believe me, none of this is my idea. This is entirely Chris' clever way of doing it. Thanks go to him. I've only retyped it.

As for printing out the pages to see how the layout looks, how they blend into existing albums, and so forth, I'll only know that when I get a wide-format printer or find one to try it on. That may take some time.

At worst, I suppose if you printed out all the pages of one country or an entire album, they would all look the same. As long as you had the layout correct, moving it somewhat to the right to account for the space lost to the left-side binding area, I imagine they'd look pretty good. Cost would only be the blank paper (plus ink) and a binder.

These pages wouldn't be "free," but compared to the hundreds of dollars most sets of higher quality album pages cost, these would be much more affordable. This could make it possible to create albums similar to many of the more expensive albums but for a lot less cost. It seems pretty amazing to me.

ChrisW said...

I certainly don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade here since it was my idea in the first place, but some back of the envelope calculations…

If you wanted to do a whole WW album, blank Scott International pages cost around 35 cents each x 6500 pages from Steiner’s Classic set = $2,285. Assuming 400 pages per Jumbo binder, it would take about 16 binders at $40 each ($650), for a grand total of $2,935, not counting the upfront cost of buying the large format printer and ink.

I guess my fear is that once I started doing this one country at a time, I would ultimately want to do it for all the countries; this would be a VERY nice WW album set, but with a $3000 plus price tag.

Alternatively, if you can get over the 8.5 x 11 format, I managed to find some very nice 60 lb paper (not card stock), which is similar in weight to the Scott International pages for 3 cents each, thus the cost if I wanted to print out all of the 6500 Steiner pages would only be $195. In addition, I found some very nice binders (Features: “Italian faux leather covering, archival safe, reinforced padded board cover, sewn edges, metal accents include corner guards and a label frame on the spine”), which can be found online for around $16 each. Not sure how many pages they would hold, but assuming say 200 pages per binder, it would be about 30 binders ($500), for a grand total of about $700 and without the added cost of having to buy a large format printer and the ink cartilages for that printer. This would also be a VERY nice album set, albeit in an 8.5 x 11 format, but you could spend the $2300 saving on stamps!

Now, of course, I’m not trying to talk anyone out of anything, but just trying to present all the options. Like Drew, it helps me to write it all out as I’m trying to decide on my ultimate direction. It is best to know all the pros and cons up front before you are too committed to one specific format.

DrewM said...

By printing out "an entire album" I didn't mean an entire worldwide album like the Scott International (Big Blue) which would, as Chris says, costs a lot of money to duplicate by printing it yourself. Thousands of self-printed pages in dozens of binders is a bit overwhelming, and I'm not sure I'd like that look. My thoughts were to print supplementary pages for some countries in Big Blue.

Normally, when we collect a country in depth, we buy a separate album. If you want to collect a few dozen countries in depth (and I do) along with your general collection of everything else, that gets expensive. But adding additional pages for some of these countries into Big Blue, you can do it more inexpensively. A few hundred extra pages isn't very expensive.

If you added 500 supplementary pages, the cost would be a few hundred dollars printing them yourself (paper and ink). The printer adds a few hundred dollars, of course, but then you have a nice, new printer! Adding 1000 pages to your Big Blue binders, you'll need at least one additional binder, but it adds a few hundred more dollars, far less than buying separate country albums for all those countries.

And you'd have thodr countries in the same worldwide album with your more general worldwide collection which is appealing.

I wouldn't want to print an entire worldwide album myself! Even on 8.5 x 11 pages, printing all of Steiner's pages just seems overwhelming -- and maybe a little counterproductive, too, as I don't want to collect every stamp of every country. Some I'd prefer to collect Big Blue style, only the more easily obtainable issues. Others I'll collect in more depth.

A Scott Speciality album for a country like Japan, Britain, or Greece can run $2-300 for pages and binders. For Davo albums, another popular choice, that same country needs more binders, perhaps three, four, or five per country (Davo pages aren't as crowded, it seems, and its binders hold fewer pages which does make them less heavy). Cost of Davo's non-hingeless pages is less than their hingeless pages, but still fairly high (say $125 per volume with a binder). So, a set of Davo binders and pages for each country takes up 3-5 volumes and is going to cost more like $400-500, possibly more.

Single-country album costs for "nice" albums can be expensive. Supplementing your Big Blue where desired for even $500 worth of additional pages (a few dozen countries in more depth) even with an extra binder or two, starts to look like a bargain.

My own approach is to use some Scott Specialized albums plus a few Davo albums for some countries -- purchased gradually over the years. And for everything else, I have a set of Big Blue from the 1840-1940 classic era up to 1975 or so. Countries I want to collect in full depth go in the separate Scott or Davo volumes. Those I want to just supplement for some years, could go on self-printed pages in Big Blue. I wouldn't need to buy additional country albums for them. That saves a few hundred dollars per country.

ChrisW said...


Yes, I may have misunderstood. You are absolutely correct. If you are only going to supplement your Big Blues with a few countries that you want more depth, then I think this is certainly the way to go. As you said, everything is consistent and you don’t have to separate out specific countries into specialty albums.

Bob: sorry Drew and I have “hijacked” your blog for our “world’s best stamp album” discussions!

ChrisW said...

Hello everyone,

I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to update anyone who might still be interested. Last night, I tried to print a Steiner page onto a blank Scott International page using my regular Epson printer. Now this was not my original idea, but I vaguely remember someone (maybe even in this thread, but I didn’t take the time to go back through all the comments to find it) mentioning the idea of folding (!) the page to get it to fit in the printer.

So, I tried this and it worked beautifully! Just take a regular 8.5 x 11 size piece of paper and place it on top of the blank Scott page with the outer edges lined up. Then fold over the inner edge over top the regular sheet of paper, now the blank Scott page will be 8.5 inches wide. It will be slightly longer than 11 inches, but that doesn’t matter. Put it in your paper feeder tray and print. The best thing is that the fold is just above the holes in the Scott page so it is not really noticeable once the page is placed in the album. The other thing that surprised me a bit is that the fold basically “popped” out after it printed and I flattened out the page so that there is not really a crease there as one might expect. I think this is basically due to the type and thickness of the Scott pages.

Of course, it takes some playing to get the print to line up on the page the way you want, but seems to be a very doable way to print Steiner pages on blank Scott pages without the need to purchase a separate wide-format printer. I think it would be a pain and pretty expensive to do this in order to recreate an entire album, but very doable for someone who wants to replace a few countries with Steiner, but keep everything together in BigBlue.

Bob said...

ChrisW, thanks so much. I think I have mentioned something on this blog about folding blank International pages to get them through a printer, but when I originally read about this, the writer didn't include any information, so I was doubtful. Your description of the technique is very helpful.