A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Gift that Gerben van Gelder has given to us WW collectors

Gerben van Gelder
Stamp World History
We were in The Hague (Den Haag) last year March for an extended visit with our daughter, who works there, and one of my philatelic goals was to meet the author of the magnificent Stamp World History website*, Gerben van Gelder.

*Stamp World History website: Alas, presently not available. BUT, the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine has this:


Gerben had only started his website in June, 2015, yet he was publishing fully formed historical philatelic profiles, and his unbelievably accurate maps of countries almost daily. I had marveled at his superhuman output, and he said he had been preparing many years for this, and we were now witnessing the fruits.

German East Africa (Enlarge for review)
His philatelic maps are unlike any other that have been published before. They are information dense, they are layered, and they reward close study.

Note his German East Africa map show the German offices and local issues, the Caravan route!, the towns, villages and dates, and the areas covered by the Belgian, British (several), and Portuguese occupation issues. And this is one map, based on study of original materials and resources. !

And the country entry is accompanied by a historically dense essay, which illuminates his synthesis maps. 

Multiply this one map and historical accompaniment shown here by 373: the number of country profiles published until his last (Belarus), on November 28, 2016, and one can perhaps begin to understand the gift he has given philately, and WW collectors in particular.

He was quite clear that his maps and materials were allowed to be used freely (non commercially) by collectors for their own studies. A source acknowledgement of Stamp World History was all he requested.

The author and spouse in the low countries
I contacted him, and arranged for him to meet me by the Binnenhof, in Den Haag, near the train station. He would travel from Ultrecht, near his home town. We would perhaps have some Poffertjes with powdered sugar and butter.

But he called me that morning, as he was too sick to come that day. Life had thrown him a curve ball, and he was battling a serious illness, including chemotherapy.

It dawned on me that may be the reason he was covering Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Oceania first. Those were the parts of the world where he could contribute the most, as the philatelic history (and maps) were more terra incognita. Europe could wait.

My understanding is there were several countries still being prepared when he could work no more.

So readers and world wide collectors, enjoy his legacy - it was meant for us.

And perhaps ponder a bit on the genius - yes genius! - of Gerben van Gelder.


  1. I have many kind thoughts and deep appreciation for Gerben and his work.

  2. Jim,

    A very nice tribute to Gerben and his philatelic work. May he rest in peace...


  3. Very well done. Thank you Jim. I didn't really know Gerben or his site very well but the impact he had in people I know is remarkable.


  4. Thanks for the tributes to Gerben. His legacy will live on for generations with his creative Stamp World History.

  5. Sad news, indeed! I was one of the many who have followed his work on website. I'm sure that his legacy will help many generations of stamp collectors!

  6. I had looked at Gerben's website casually the way you do when you assume something is always going to be there. But I had no idea it had all been done so quickly and by one person. I could certainly tell it had been done very well. I hope the website he created can be archived somewhere for others' use. This is very sad news about Gerben's death, it goes without saying. Jim, your comments were excellent, and I only wish you could have had better luck in meeting him.

  7. Thanks Caitlin and Drew for your tributes. It is true, sometimes, we don't know what we had until it is gone.

  8. Have Gerben van Gelder's maps found a new web site since his passing? I've been searching for something like his wonderful maps to augment my albums. It would be a absolute shame to realize all his work has been deleted.

    1. Unfortunately, No.

      Hopefully, the family will find a way.

      As insurance (and in retrospect, smart of me), I did download all of his maps on his site before the site went away.

  9. Hi Jim,

    I note that the commentary above states that "He was quite clear that his maps and materials were allowed to be used freely (non commercially) by collectors for their own studies. " Have you made the maps available since you downloaded them?

    1. Some of them, when they were used for a revised blog post.

      I'm uncomfortable releasing all of them until it is clear that they will not be released any other way. I'm still hopeful.

    2. Hi Jim, You obviously have contact details for the family. Have you asked them whether they plan to release the maps, or whether they would be happy for you to do so?

  10. Here's the final copy of Gerben's site in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20180811150123/http://www.stampworldhistory.com:80/

    1. Thanks very much for the link! I posted it at the beginning of this post for greater attention.