Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Quick Overview of Pros and Cons of Worldwide Albums

Before doing the comparison, here are the albums we are talking about:

The Scott Brown Internationals had a space for every major number in the Scott catalog through mid-1939, but the originals are out-of-print. The pages have been reprinted by Vintage Reproductions which you can still buy.

The Scott Blue Internationals were originally a companion "junior" album to the more comprehensive Browns. When the Browns were discontinued the Blue line dropped  "junior" from the title. The Blue Internationals are still being sold.

The Minkus Master and Supreme Global albums were competitors to the Scott Blue Internationals. The Master was less comprehensive than the Blues; the Supreme Globals more comprehensive, but less so than the Browns. The Supreme Global has been reprinted.

William Steiner through his stampalbum.com website sells Acrobat pdf files for you to print your own worldwide pages. These are as comprehensive as the Browns if not more so, including a set specifically for 1840-1940.

Got that? So how do these compare against each other?

Scott International originals (Browns) - 5 vols

—Comprehensive for major numbers in Scott Catalog (at the time each volume was published)
—Can purchase for bargain prices from eBay et al

—Originals are out-of-print and most offered for sale are in less than pristine condition
—Hardbound so you can't interleave volumes or add your own pages (there were looseleaf versions but these are practically never encountered)
—Thinner, non-archival paper printed on both sides of the page
—No catalog numbers in spaces
—Most countries missing the stamps for mid-1939 through 1940

Scott International reprints by Vintage Reproductions (Browns) - 6 vols

—Heavy archival paper printed on one side only
—Easy to add your own pages or even integrate with the current Scott Internationals Volume 2 on
—Includes stamps through end of 1940

—No catalog numbers in spaces
—Takes many binders and lots of shelf space

Scott International Volume One, 1 and 2-part versions (originally called the Junior, now commonly referred to as the Blues to differentiate them from the more comprehensive Browns)

—Possible to house representative worldwide collection in a single volume (although as you add more stamps or interleaving, you'll will be hard pressed to keep it in even a jumbo binder)
—Can purchase earlier editions for bargain prices from eBay et al
—Used by many collectors so a lot of information is available on the Internet, including a wonderful checklist in progress by Jim (http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/)

—35K spaces represents no more than 50-60% of face different 1840-1940 stamps
—Unevenly edited; all editions are missing thousands of common stamps; some stamps are in some editions but not others
—Some countries that are in earlier versions are missing in later
—Pre-1947 editions usually hardbound
—Printed on non-archival paper on both sides of the page
—Some editions are on thin paper which is prone to tearing
—Difficult to integrate looseleaf version with later volumes or to add your own pages (impossible, obviously, if you have the hardbound version)
—No catalog numbers in spaces

Scott International Volume One, 4-part version (current version of what was originally called the Junior, now commonly referred to as the Blues to differentiate them from the more comprehensive Browns)

—As above plus the 4-parts edition is on heavy archival paper and has been redesigned so you can integrate with later volumes as well as add you own pages

—As above as regards scope and editing
—Better paper but still printed on both sides of the page (although there are a lot more blank backs of pages)
—More expensive to buy new than to purchase "used" earlier editions
—Missing hundreds of stamps and a few countries that were in some earlier editions

Minkus Supreme Global originals

—Even the first edition went to 1952 which will be appealing to collectors who would like to go beyond a 1940 cutoff without buying any supplements
—Possible to house representative worldwide collection in a single volume (although as you add more stamps or interleaving, you'll will be hard pressed to keep it in even a jumbo binder)
—Most countries are noticeably more comprehensive than the Scott Blue Internationals
—Later editions include Minkus catalog numbers for every space which greatly simplifies matching the correct stamp to the space (as long as you acquire the out-of-print Minkus catalogs)
—Can purchase for bargain prices on eBay et al

—Contains more stamps per page than other albums listed here (form versus function)

—Thinner, non-archival paper (but not as thin as some earlier Blue Internationals)
—Minkus catalog numbers are no longer used by sellers
—Some pages display more than one country making these sections somewhat difficult to integrate or expand (although better in this respect than earlier Scott Blue Internationals)

Minkus Supreme Global reprint of 1952 edition by Amos Publishing

Pros/cons: Same as the above but with the added advantage of being on thicker, archival paper
—Somewhat cheaper than the equivalent Scott Blue Internationals

Steiner (http://www.stampalbums.com/)

—Comprehensive coverage
—Collector friendly policy of fixing mistakes
—Inexpensive compared to some of the other albums if you print your own pages
—Can use 8.5x11 inch paper which allows cheaper binding options
—Extremely easy to expand/integrate with your own pages

—Contains fewest stamps per page of any albums listed here (form versus function)

—Almost no images of stamps, only descriptions
—No catalog numbers (but spaces correlate easily with the Scott catalog)
—Either must print your own pages or purchase preprinted pages from third parties (expensive); many collectors would disagree and rate the print yourself feature as neutral or even a plus!
—Requires a lot of shelf space

Not included in the above:

Scott Speciality or Minkus Regional/Country albums could be used to house an 1840-1940 collection if you can find the ones that are out-of-print. Several very large worldwide collections that go beyond 1940 have used these albums.

The Gibbons Ideal Album covering 1840-1935 has virtues but I don't think is a practical option today unless SG reprints on one side of a page. You can read more here : http://globalstamps.blogspot.com/se...l+album.


clif said...

my Minkus Supreme Global reprint does NOT have Minkus catalog numbers ...

Bob said...

Clif, thanks. I've made the correction. I knew that the numbers were added to editions released sometime later in the 1950s so just had a senior moment.

Chris W. said...

Just wondering, is the current 4-part version of the Scott International more comprehensive than the older 2-part version?

Bob said...

Chris, this is what is so confusing. There is only the difference of a few hundred stamps between any of the Blue volume Ones. The four part version is an improvement IMHO because of better paper, etc., but not because of better coverage. Who knows, someday Scott may sell it in six or eight parts to cover printing costs, but I bet it will still have the same coverage.

Chris W. said...

Thanks for your reply...I was afraid you were going to say that, however. I have been using the 2-part Big Blue (copyright sometime in the mid-1980s), but got frustrated with the lack of coverage so I started using Steiner pages for the past year, which I’m now beginning to realize has too much coverage (i.e., I have many pages with one or two or three stamps, plus the fact that I will ultimately need 20-30 binders [or more?!] to cover a 1840-1940 collection). So, now been thinking about the new reprints of the Minkus Supreme album as a good compromise, but feel that the pages are very overcrowded (I know, can’t please all the people all the time!). I think the spacing and information provided on the Scott Internationals is just right and like that they follow the Scott catalog. Wondering if just adding blank or quadrille International pages for all the extra stamps and/or printing certain Steiner pages on blank International pages could be an option? I’d be interested in hearing how you and others handle placing the extra stamps in the Big Blue?

Bob said...

Chris, good points and questions--hopefully other readers will reply. As someone who isn't interested in collecting stamps that require magnifiers, perforation gauges, watermark detectors, etc, to identify or differentiate, I can see being reasonably happy with the 4 part Blue International supplemented as needed with blank pages. But I would probably be happiest with an album based on the Gibbons' simplified world catalog--i.e., I would rather have expensive even unobtainable stamps included as long as they were face different. But a lot of collectors would think I'm discarding the very things (secret marks, different dies, inverted watermarks) that make collecting interesting.