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...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Beyond the Classic Blues: An Introduction

New Zealand 1955 Scott 302 2p deep green & brown; Engraved
"Maori Mailman"; Centennial of New Zealand 1st Postage Stamps
Beyond the Classic Blues
During the six plus year existence of BigBlue1840-1940, the stamp scope has been limited to the first 100 years of stamp production and issues. And for good reason, much of the excitement of WW collecting lies there.

But there are practical and economic reasons for the blog to explore beyond the classic blues.

I have accumulated ~ 48,000 stamps for the 1840-1940 period, extended to 1952 for the British Commonwealth. That is ~ 58% of all the Scott major number stamps issued during this era. The low hanging, and much of the middle hanging fruit, has been picked. Obtaining feeder collections and albums no longer yields, for the most part, enough new stamps to justify the purchase. Sure, want lists are still productive. But, the cost is going up, and serendipity is going down.

Meanwhile I have, without exaggeration, left tens of thousands of stamps in feeder collections and albums, whose only clear fault is that they were issued after 1941 (1953 for the British Commonwealth).

The solution is obvious.

But would I be happy venturing beyond the classic blues?

Lets take a look...
France 1961 Scott 1009 45c violet blue, red brown, & green
Engraved; "Sully-sur-Loire Chateau"
The first, and most pleasant revelation is the French community.

Many stamps are still engraved even into the 1990s (as far as I looked).

The subjects are relevant, there is a luminous beauty, and they are designed with that typical French elan.

Libya 1941 Scott 99 50c purple; Photogravure
"Two Peoples, One War"; Hitler and Mussolini
The problem for an 1840-1940 World Wide collector is that WWII is left out, one of the most seminal events of the 20th century.

Here, Libya celebrates the union of Hitler and Mussolini. Do I really have to comment?

Netherlands 1946 Scott B159 1 1/2c + 3 1/2c black; Engraved
"Fortuna"; Surtax for Victims of WW II
The aftermath of WW II is equally as important. This exquisite engraved stamp from the Netherlands, a semi-postal, provides funds for those that suffered.

German Democratic Republic 1946 Scott 16N2 4pf black "Fir Trees"
Typography; Soviet Zone Occupation -Thuringia
Occupied lands after WW II had their own stamps, provided directly or indirectly by the occupied power. This poorly produced typographic stamp perhaps portents the economic and political fate of Erfurt and the Thuringia region.

Hungary 1946 Scott 779 80ez apple green; Photogravure
Denomination in Black; Issue of the Republic
Not all stamps were gorgeous prior to 1940.  Even so, there certainly was a rise in "little nothings" issued, especially during the 1940s, when countries affected by WW II were still very poor.

But that does tell its own important story, doesn't it?

In fact, regarding the CV, the stamp era between 1941 and the mid-1960s had and still have, generally and broadly speaking, the least value. And because stamp collecting was still quite popular then, many stamps were deliberately saved, guaranteeing that the CV will remain low.

But that is good news for those that collect as a hobby, rather than a wealth portfolio. One can collect the ~25 years after the classical era and truly get enormous and financial guilt free enjoyment out of it.

Falkland Islands Dependencies 1954 Scott 1L23 2 1/2p 
black and yellow-ocher "Penola"; Engraved
One of the reasons I am interested in collecting British Commonwealth after 1952 is I am attracted to the later 1950s and early 1960s QEII issues, especially those that don't just copy the George VI pictorials. They are still very classical in appearance.

And the drumbeat of independence from colonial powers was building - finally!

Jamaica 1962 Scott 181 2p multicolored, Photogravure
"Zouare Bugler and Map of Jamaica"; Independent State
The Yvert & Tellier has produced a WW catalogue that is called "Les Semi-Modernes: Les timbres du Monde de 1941-1960". One of the reasons for the 1960 cut-off date is because many of the French colonies became independent around 1960.

The British colonies, many of them, won greater independence throughout the 1960s.

The Dutch, the Belgians, and finally the Portuguese gave up their direct control of colonies. This process took into the 1970s.

Not all the separations were happy for all parties at the time (India, Indonesia).

But this is a huge story for the WW collector, with the stamps reflecting the new political realities.

Israel 1954 Scott 84 60p dark blue, magenta, & olive; Lithography
"Marigold and Ruins of Yehiam"
Memorial  Day and 6th Anniversary of Proclamation of State of Israel
There was birth of new nations, some reflecting years of yearning and conflict. Perhaps the most dramatic was the rise of an independent Jewish state - Israel.

Iceland 1956 Scott 296 5k dark green, Engraved
The art of the engraved stamp did not go away in the post-classic period, although it became diminished in volume and importance by the rise of multi-color photogravure and lithographic printed stamps.

Yet the engraved stamps produced in the post-classic period are often exquisite, produced by some of the most talented engravers of any era.

I've visited the iconic Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland. The stamp captures in hyper-reality what I saw and felt.

Spain 1966 Scott 1362 10p bright blue & greenish blue, Engraved
"Courtyard of St. Gregorio Valladolid"
The secret of an engraved stamp is the closer one looks at the image, the more amazing the stamp becomes. How did all those little detailed engraved lines produce such a three-dimensional stunning result?

Turkey 1957 Scott 1258 50c pink, violet, red, & yellow, Lithography
400th Death Anniversary of Fuzuli, Poet
Multi-color lithography printing came into its own during the post-classical era. When it is done well (design, color combination), it does produce a remarkable image. True, my heart is drawn foremost to engraved specimens. But who is to deny that this is an absolutely lovely stamp?

And consider how far this stamp appears in color, design and format from the Turkish stamps of the classical era?

Greece 1959 Scott 659 70l multicolored, Lithography
"St. Basil"
Another example of multicolored lithography from Greece.

It would be much more work (perhaps cost prohibitive?) for an engraved specimen to have this many colors.

I think of the many examples of lithography during the classical era that are crudely and poorly done. No one will accuse this stamp of that.

El Salvador 1963 Scott C200 5c gray green, indigo, red, & buff; Photogravure
"King Vulture"; Birds in Natural Colors
Photogravure can be found during the classical era (Bavaria, later Italian sphere), but it came into its own with the ability to print multiple colors.

I agree that this "King Vulture" does look like it was printed in natural colors.

Also note the topic- Birds. The post classical era was the serious beginning of topical collecting. Nothing wrong with that as long as the topical theme has some relevance to the issuing country.

Philippines 1967 Scott C94 70s multicolored; Photogravure
"Eruption of Taal Volcano and Refugees"; Sept. 28, 1965
Natural and recent historical events are a pleasure to collect on stamps. Here is a lovely colorful photogravure specimen from the Philippines.

Russia 1957 "Sputnik I Circling Globe"; Photogravure
Nov. 5 Scott 1992 40k indigo/bluish; Dec. 28 Scott 1993 40k bright blue
A discussion of stamp topics prominent in the post classical era would have to include the huge rise in Space stamps, in all their dimensions.

I clearly remember as a child going out in the evening to see Sputnik pass by. Here is the original Russian stamp: so popular that another one had to be printed a few months later.

Russia 1965 Scott 3023 20k black, blue, red on Aluminum Foil, Lithographed
"Globe with trajectories, Satellite, and Astronauts" ; National Cosmonaut's Day 
By 1965, when this Russian stamp on Aluminum Foil! was printed, space race related stamps were very popular, and served patriotic and propaganda purposes, as well, during the cold war.

Nepal 1964 Scott 178 10p red & ultramarine; Lithography
"Nepalese Flag and Swords, Olympic Emblem"
18th Olympic Games, Tokyo, Oct. 10-25, 1964
Think about the design of early Nepal stamps, and then think about this "modern" design from Nepal - what a difference!

There is no doubt that "modern" entails often a more abstract and possibly spare image.

Also, another huge topical theme- the Olympics - is featured. Countries that are involved even a little ( and, yes, countries that are not even involved at all!) now invariably produce a multi-issue set.

Sweden 1963 Scott 623 35o lilac rose, Engraved
"Wheat Emblem and Stylized Hands"
FAO "Freedom from Hunger" Campaign
An abstract design, if done well, can be stunning and provocative. This Swedish stamp clearly qualifies.

And note the engraver? Czeslaw Slania, from Poland, has over 1000 engraved stamps (1951-2005) to his credit. His work is of such quality and detail that, by itself, would fully justify collecting the post-classicial era!

Guatemala 1964 Scott C302 5c deep blue; Engraved
"President John F. Kennedy"
Finally, we will end with a very nice engraved specimen from Guatemala honoring John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was probably the first of the "modern" presidents, and his eloquent democratic views influenced the world. We can't come down too hard on any country that felt they were genuinely influenced by his life, and wished to honor him with a stamp issue.

BUT, we can't ignore the fact, that, for many countries, the stamp issue was a money maker.

And that opened the floodgates...

The Trifecta: Princess Diana, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe
Sierra Leone 2006-07 Issues Scott Catalogue
I call them "Elvis sightings".  I have nothing against Elvis- I loved him as a kid. But when a country issues a stamp for Elvis, or Marilyn Monroe, or Lady Diana (as Sierra Leone does on one page of the Scott catalogue - all three!), and the country has essentially no direct reason to do so, well, I call a halt to collecting that country. Of course there are a myriad of other topics/themes/personalities where the same argument applies.

Minkus Supreme Global Stamp Album: "Big Red"
Big Red
Big Red, the  Minkus Global Supreme, is the album I use for my 1840-1940 extras, and for the post classic era 1941-1966+. (Do not confuse with the Minkus Global Master, sold in one volume.)

I'm not going to say much here regarding how I came to that choice as the reasons are outlined in...

Is the Minkus Supreme the "Goldilocks" Album for WW Collectors?

Which Stamp Album is best for WW collectors?

An Obsession: Healthy or Unhealthy?
Every hobby has an obsession level that can become unhealthy for family relationships, if not properly managed. I worry about that, because stamp collecting, with all the good things about it, is mostly a solitary, somewhat anti-social activity. For the general WW collector, with the hundreds of thousands of stamps of potential interest, it is of particular concern. I've managed to keep an equilibrium collecting 1840-1940 for the most part. If collecting in addition the next 25-30 years becomes too much, I may need to bail. !!

The WW collector is also faced with at least thinking about a cutoff date for their collection. Reality is there was a significant increase in overall new issues beginning in the 1960s and accelerating for the next decades.

One can get some understanding of the scope of the increase by checking out these links...

My own contribution as posted on The Stamp Forum...
Minkus Supreme Global Stamp Album
1962 Advertisement
The two volume 76,000 space Minkus Global Supreme was first released in 1954. Amos Advantage has brought back this very edition (Part I 1840-1952), and can now be ordered on thick white paper.

Minkus Supreme Global Pages- Part I 1840-1952
And here it is!

I have also obtained Part II 1953-1963, and Part III 1964-1966.

The attraction for me is to recreate the seminal 1966 Minkus Global Supreme edition housed in three fat volumes, and holding 121,000+ spaces- "More than two-thirds of all stamps ever issued (probably hyperbole)".

Scott International WW Album: Big Blues
Of course an alternative are the "Big Blues" - Part I 1840-1940, Part II 1940+-1949+, Part III 1949+-1955, Part IV 1956-1959, Part V 1960-63, Part VA 1963-65, Part VI 1965-67 and so forth.

Jamaica 1860-1911 in Big Red Part I 1840-1952
For Part I, I fill the 1840-1940 WW (-1952 British Commonwealth) with the extras from feeder albums. My "Deep Blue" (Steiner) pages hold the main classical era collection.

Netherlands 1948-1952 in Big Red Part I 1840-1952
I enjoy having a place to put all those stamps of the 1941-1952 period into Part I from the feeder albums and collections.

New Zealand 1959-62 in Big Red Part II 1953-1963
But why stop at 1952?  The Part II 1953-1963 provides needed spaces.

Russia 1957 Issues Big Red Part II 1953-1963
Note the tendency in the Minkus to put lots of stamps on a page. Here is featured the "40th Anniversary of the October Revolution" stamps for Russia.

Russia 1957 Issues Big Blue Part IV 1956-59
In comparison, here is a Big Blue page for Russia circa 1957.

Philippines 1966 Issues in Big Red Part III 1964-66
Finally the Part III 1964-1966 provides spaces for those years.

And noted by the mid-1960s, there is the beginning of the "growth industry" of many issues from some countries. For instance, the fairly prolific (but legitimate) stamps from Russia for 1964-66 takes up 14 double sided pages. Then there are the "Trucial States" @ 39 double-sided pages!

Finland 1942 Scott 342 3.50m violet blue, Engraved
"17th Century Printer"
300th Anniversary of the printing of the 1st Bible in Finnish
Out of the Blue
If interest and time allows, I may add an occasional country blog post covering the 1941-1966+ years to the Big Blue lineup.

Fun for me, and hopefully fun for you!

(Sorry, I'm not planning a Minkus Global Supreme checklist at this time. )

Comments appreciated!


  1. Of course, a lot of fun of me and for every stamp collector! :) I enjoy the idea to watch beyond the Big Blue, and your reasons are great - French stamps, Slania work, and many more. Have a nice weekend! Catalin

    1. Thanks Catalin. appreciate the comment! Yes, the French designs, which maintain quality well into the modern era, and the continued great engraved stamps that are produced (Slania number one example) are sufficient reasons by themselves to collect beyond the classic blues.

  2. Nice to see a peek of the 'semi-modern' stuff you've got put aside.

    And 'wow' for the 'BIG red'.


    1. Thanks Keijo. Part of the inspiration for moving beyond the Classic blues is your blog which tackles everything without time constraints. !!

  3. I've, also, been expanding my collecting interests beyond my primary Big Blue Part I album. Although in my case I've decided to close down the Supreme Global album which covered 1840-1966 and move into Scott International Parts I-V mostly because I find the stamps just look better on the Scott pages as the issues are grouped in cleaner layouts and I find I particularly like the thinner lines of the boxes around the stamps on the Scott pages. I did make the decision to keep the parts separate rather than making chronological collections for each country whereas the Minkus album was done chronologically. I am now up to Korea in my "great album move".

    I am finding the expansion into the later periods to be very inspiring in terms of looking at the history and development of countries especially the expansion of topical areas as subjects rather than just pictures of rulers on stamps.

    The Supreme albums have been inactive for ten years and I am finding that the move has dramatically expanded my motivation for filling in the white spaces in the albums. :) The somewhat lower emphasis in the Scott albums for perf, watermark, etc. varieties has broadened the range of countries for which I am looking for issues dramatically as well as I follow the albums in choosing new purchases. Ah, yes, I fear a philatelist I am not but definitely a stamp collector!

    1. Albumfilling - Appreciate the update and insight into your WW collection.

      If I had my classical era stamps in a real Big Blue, rather than a "virtual" BB, I think I would have done as you do- keep collecting with the Blues.

  4. Welcome to the post-1940 worldwide fun, Jim :)

    Soon you'll going even further forward for select countries (which having Steiner's pages will let you easily do to "cherry pick" nations ending at different dates) because for many nations, the quality of production has continued right up to the present.

    Philately is like a buffet, it's hard to limit yourself to a few dishes, especially when new dishes get put on the table :)

    1. Ah the buffet, for a guy who is trying to stay on a diet, a real challenge.

      I'm having a difficult time digesting what I have now. ;-)

    2. hey its all no-calorie good for you intellectual consumption, enjoy to your hearts content :D

  5. Hi Jim,

    What an excellent post. You've summed up so much of what appeals to me from the 1940 - 1975 or so period.

    The Big Red scans already leave me drooling. I can't wait to see what happens once you take this time period seriously! :)

    My prediction is that st some point you'll follow Gene's suggestion and leave the end date off your collection. That is, make it flexible by country, stopping whenever an Elvis, Marilyn or Diana SS is issued! I find that even my beloved Sweden collection loses my interest after 2002 or so.


    1. Mark - I like your idea of "Elvis Spotting" ending a collection date. To be determined... ;-)

  6. Interesting read Jim, and all the while I was thinking to see the announcement for the Big red blog a then you spoiled the fun with that last sentence between ().

    No stampcollecting is not antisocial, as it happens I'm able to get my two sons with me while being occupied with my stamps : the oldest one helps me with sorting out the stamps for Big Blue, while the youngest one is busy with his stamptopic : animals.

    That way we spend an hour or so with the 3 of us together which is quite nice. The youngest abandons after an hour or so which is understandable given his age.

    It's indeed a pity that Big Blue cuts of in 1940, the 1940-1945 period is really interesting philatelically speaking.

    Good luck with the Big Red One now Jim !

    1. Alex - The stamp activity with your children sounds wonderful! I'm glad your family is making it a social activity.

  7. Another wonderful post. I started with what you call 'Big Red' and have made it still bigger for the early years by supplementing with Minkus specialized album pages for my favourite countries--I now have eight of those hefty volumes. Like you, though, I simply couldn't resist collecting up through the early 1960s--just up to the point when most of the old colonial empires fell apart. The numbers from then on tend to be overwhelming, whereas before that the main offenders are not featuring Elvis, but Marx, Lenin and Stalin. Of course, the Minkus reflects its Cold War origins by not including the People's Republic of China; but you can get the supplementary pages that were issued after Nixon's famous visit.

    1. James- I like the way you have expanded "Big Red" by adding/substituting Minkus country pages.

      In fact I do have the Minkus PRC pages that Amos sent me when I told them they had no PRC coverage in Big Red.

    2. Jim -- I always enjoy reading your blog, in large part because you emphasize the learning aspect of stamp collecting, rather than just an activity where one fills in the empty spaces. And there is plenty to earn post-1940, especially in terms of the old War and De-Colonization. But stamps also are other windows into the contemporary world form which they came. I too worry about the anti-social aspect of the hobby, although it can be consciously avoided by joining a local stamp club, owing to various meetings and bourses, etc. Almost any hobby has the potential to isolate a person, depending on how you approach it. Balance in life is everything!

    3. Thanks John, and appreciate that you too enjoy how stamps can be a window into the wider historical world.

      Thanks for the comments on the anti-social aspects. You are the first to do so. An obsession can unbalance more important things.

  8. What a wonderful blog and resource! I have recently inherited 2 Big Blues from the early 1940s (didn't even know they were called that). One is from 1947, about 80% complete I guess (great coverage except all French was removed), and a BB "Junior" from 1939 about 50% coverage. Along with Scotts Part II, III and IV, with completion rates diminishing as the great older, separate Canadian & German collections, and assorted "stuff".

    I'm just getting started on trying to figure out all the great stuff in them, and your resources will be an invaluable help! Thank you again.

  9. Hi Jim, your posts are great and I read them with much interest. This one is particularly good in my opinion, very sincere. I agree with you about collecting. It can be so much fun, yet it can turn to an obsession. I experienced it myself some years ago, when I was trying to calm an inner disquiet by relentlessy collecting stamps. Meanwhile I have addressed some of my life's questions. And collecting stamps from the classical era 1840-1945 has become fun again.
    Have a good day, Rob

    1. Hi Rob - you are quite perceptive about stamps and obsession. There is a healthy level and an unhealthy level. I'm glad you are back on the healthy side.

      I'm bumping up on that question too. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.