Friday, July 25, 2014

Stanley Gibbons Imperial Album Revisited

In 2011 I wrote about the Stanley Gibbons equivalents of the Scott Browns and the Blue International Volume One. Somehow I missed a thread the following year on Stampboards that describes collector Jonah's progress on filling the SG Imperial. (The Imperial covers the British Commonwealth 1840-1936.) There are lots of interesting comments and images, many of which are relevant to Scott International collectors. I still am having trouble acclimating to the lack of borders around stamps, but the completed pages do have a nice clean look. I suppose collectors who use stockbooks would especially like the appearance.

There is a new post on Stampboards that addresses the availability status of the Imperial. SG intends to update the Imperial along the lines of their King George VI album with similar 22 ring binders. Alas, nothing is mentioned about the Ideal album which covered the rest of the world. (Regency, the US distributor, still shows the 3 volume Ideal available for $499.)


DrewM said...

It’s amusing that SG subtitles its Ideal Album for "Foreign Countries" instead of “Rest of the World”. That reflects a rather funny ethnocentricism particular to that era with Britain as the center of all things. Imagine if Scott's International Album with pages for the U.S. followed by all other A-Z countries of the world, instead had a separate volume on the U.S. (the National Album!) followed with separate volumes labeled for "foreign countries" instead of “postage stamps of the world”. Every country is foreign. I suppose he British Empire died hard and collecting in the KG and Ideal albums leaves you kind of stuck in that era.

I enjoy worldwide collecting and without an “empire” to focus on, it’s actually more enjoyable to collect all countries, and simply go into greater depth and more completeness on those whose stamps you like most. The empire/commonwealth focus of SG’s albums is understandable in Britain, but seems too so narrow. And all those monarchs’ heads!

I suppose the left-hand pages were put there to substitute for a catalog. But if you have a catalog, as most advanced collectors do, do you benefit much from these pages? I don’t think you do. So, they’re just there. I do like the one-sided pages so the album doesn’t get overfilled and stamps on facing pages don’t pull at each other. And the tear-out pages which allow the sewn binding not to bulge so much are a clever idea. But I expect the album still ends up bulging with a lot of stamps in it, just not as much. Ever seen a nearly full Scott International Junior album? Now there’s a seriously bulging album that could have used tear-out pages. One of the drawbacks of a non-looseleaf album.

The SG album has spaces with boxes indicating where to mount stamps but no borders are left showing once you mount them. The stamp covers up the box. This seem odd . I like borders which frame stamps.

And royal reign eras as a cutoff point for an album may appeal to imperial-minded Brits, but it strikes me as too ethnocenctric even if it is still followed there. What advantage is there, really, to collecting only up to the end of royal reign? Better to go to natural cut-off years like 1940 or to the end of World War II. Does SG publish a subsequent imperial/commonwealth album that does that?

It’s a very nice-looking album, nicely bound and good-looking on the bookshelf. But I prefer the ability to add blank pages and move pages around. And I like more completeness than a narrow imperial album provides. So this album won’t sell in very large quantities and appeal mainly to an imperial-minded few. The catalogue pages are okay, but a little unnecessary. The looseleaf version of this album will be preferable, but not if it’s on smaller pages. And, again, why stop at 1936? Better to make it end later – or sell pages for collectors who want their albums to end later. SG’s market for this album must be mainly in the UK. It's a good-looking album, but I prefer a real worldwide album which I can tailor to my interests.

Bob said...

I must say I’m intrigued by the idea of a combined album and catalog. Sure, you still need a real catalog for more detailed identification problems and values, but for help IDing stamps in a general collection, I think this might be a time saver.

Incidentally, on the penchant of the Brits for collecting by reign, I saw a posting recently by someone thinking of collecting US stamps arranged by the President in office when the stamps were issued. I wonder how that would work out? With the exception of Franklin Roosevelt, did any American presidents influence stamps during their administration?

James said...

I don't think presidential tenures last long enough to serve as a useful basis for determining album dates...but many royal ones do. Though I also collect the world and not just the British empire, from lots of perspectives I can see the attractions of the focus adopted in the Stampboards thread on the SG Imperial album --and they are not just 'imperial'. (As I've put stamps into my 'Supreme Global' album, issued by Minkus at the height of the Cold War, I've often wondered if all international collectors have a residual desire for world domination.)
Seriously, the Stampboards thread wonderfully illustrates the aesthetic attractions of a traditional hinged album--the early Victorian line-engraved issues appear in all their original richness and depth. The fastbound system, though, is a non-starter for me: I just don't think there are enough tear-out pages to compensate for all those layers of stamps that get added as the album fills up.
But after this I do plan to remount my Penny Black with a hinge.

Bob said...

"But after this I do plan to remount my Penny Black with a hinge."

Love it!

ChrisW said...

Just wondering if anyone has any updates on the availability of the SG Ideal and Imperial albums? Are these not being made anymore?

Bob said...

The last I heard (no more than gossip?) was that SG intended to reprint the Ideal Albums in loose-leaf format once their stock of the bound version ran out, which I believe has happened. There is a recent thread on the Postage Stamp Chat Board which is relevant:

Mark Jones said...

I came across this blog whilst searching for another set of Imperial albums. I must say its a very impressive resource for worldwide and tradional "album" collectors.

I'm Jonah and I'm pleased to see that my collection has a few other fans, other than stampboards , out there! As James has stated above, the whole reason for my starting the thread there was to show just how nice traditional albums can look and showcase a collection.They also give you a goal to work towards, which for me was a major plus as up until I bought them I was aimlessly collecting everything!

Now in regards to SG, they really will be missing a trick if they fail to supply updated versions of both the New Ideal and New Imperial to the market. I have been contacted by at least 30 different people over the last 18 months asking where I can get a set of imperials from, they have now become the proverbial "rocking horse poo"! Demand is most certainly there and hopefully I've inspired a fair bit of that from my thread.

Keep up the good work Bob.

If you need any other info or pics from me in regards to the Imperials, feel free to ask.

Bob said...

Jonah, thanks for your kind comments, but even more for taking the time to post your pictures on stampboards. I play the piano and periodically I would look at a piece of sheet music but just didn't get it. Then I would hear a recording and think, "Oh, that is what it is supposed to sound like." Same with your Imperial albums. Once I saw your photos: "Oh, that is what those pages are supposed to look like!"

I absolutely agree about the focus that albums provide. I understand the appeal of Vario pages and the like, but it is working towards filling an album page that gives me the most pleasure.