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, July 7, 2018

The Minkus Master Global Stamp Album: a One Volume Solution?

The Master Global Stamp Album
Editions 1961 & 1956
Beyond the Classic Blues
The Minkus Master Global stamp album, in its one volume as issued format, would be a great choice for certain collectors that would like an easy and fun way to collect world wide.

There, I said it.

Now, for the rest of the blog post. I will try to justify this assertion. ;-)

I've covered some of the ground before. If you haven't seen these blog posts, they may interest you...

Is the Minkus Supreme the "Goldilocks" Album for WW Collectors?
What Stamp Album is best for WW collectors?
Beyond the Classic Blues: An Introduction
Minkus Supreme 1967-70 - A Review

I should say at the outset that the one volume Minkus Master Global Stamp album is no longer actively published. Amos Advantage presently has the rights to the Minkus albums, but has not issued the Master Global pages.

One will need to purchase a used copy. Copies are available beginning with the initial 1952 edition, with subsequent editions produced in the latter part of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s? (I actually don't know when Minkus stopped production.) Be aware that if one picks up a 1956 edition, the stamps will cover 1840-1955; if one picks up a 1961 edition, the stamps will cover 1840-1960 - and so forth.

Actually, many of the one volume Minkus Master albums have been combined by their owners with additional yearly supplements to bring the collecting cut-off into the 70s or 80s or more. You may find yourself purchasing several volumes (binders). Often the binders are now arranged by alphabetical country (Example A-E; F-M; N-Z). But, I'm trying to keep it simple for the purpose of the blog post, so I will only be discussing the original Minkus Master first volume.

In contrast, the Minkus Supreme 1840-1952 two volume thick paper pages are available new from Amos Advantage (1954 enhanced edition). But if you are really intent on getting the Supreme, this blog post isn't for you. ;-)

We will be talking about the Supreme's little brother, the Minkus Master album. And there are good reasons to consider the Master - especially if you would like to keep WW collecting simple, fun, and inexpensive. More about that soon.

The Whole Family enjoying a WW Stamp Album
From Minkus Master Album; Circa 1950s- early 1960s
Back in the 1950s, it was not unusual for family members to have a WW stamp collection.  My father did- the iconic Scott "Modern Postage Stamp Album" with a plane flying over skyscrapers on a red binder. He had been in WW II, and the album had stamps from Germany and Japan. There were advertisements for approvals in the Superman comic books. There were stamp stores in town. Even the local grocery store sold stamp packets. 

When I was close to twelve, and with my birthday coming up, I begged my parents for a "ten thousand" WW stamp packet, and a large one volume WW stamp album ( "The Regent").

I was in seventh heaven. A whole new world opened up as every exotic stamp told a story. It was simple, intellectually stimulating, and satisfying.

I think many of us have similar stories we could tell.

Could that clean approach to WW collecting, with all the benefits, be recreated today with a one volume album?

I think it can - read on.

(As one can imagine, adolescence kicked in, and the Regent was eventually put away - but, no matter. The WW collecting bug was permanently placed.)

Minkus Master Global Binder
How can one tell if one is a possible candidate for the Master Global WW album?

Consider this...

* Do you already have other primary philatelic interests ( a specialty or country collection, or perhaps a devotion to topical stamp collecting), BUT wouldn't mind starting a secondary WW collection?

* You would like to keep it simple. 

* Wouldn't mind collecting WW, but not interested in spending a lot of money.

* Love the aesthetic appeal of the classics (1840-1940) and the semi-classics (1941-1960+).

* Are curious about the world (cultural, historical), and enjoy how WW stamps are an avenue into that world.

* Understand that a 25 cent CV stamp can be as beautiful and tell as much of an interesting story as a $50 CV stamp.

* Enjoy a challenge (58,000+ spaces!) - but not looking "to climb Mount Everest", at least with WW collecting. If you do want "to attempt Mount Everest" with WW collecting, then Deep Blue (Steiner), the "Browns", Big Blue, or Minkus Supreme albums offer even more of a challenge.

* Enjoy watching an album fill up with stamps - the Master Global offers a real possibility of doing just that.

* You see "collecting to the album" as a good thing, rather than a limitation. 

* You would like to"finish"a WW collection that you first started as a child.

* Parents or Grandparents had a WW collection. They cared for it. You would like to, in part, honor them.

* I'm sure there are other reasons. You can insert yours here.

1961 Edition Master Dust Cover Sleeve Promotion
(Click and enlarge for reading)
Here is a sleeve promotion for the Master, edited by George Tlamsa. I consider him a genius. He mixes on the same page the various categories (regular, air mail, postage due, semi-postal, official etc) for the same time issue era. It makes sense, and I've come to like it, despite growing up in a Scott catalogue world.

By the way, I wouldn't be too concerned about the "minkus numbers for stamp spaces" problem for Minkus albums in a Scott world. The layout is quite logical, and I have no problems using the Scott catalogue to identify the spaces. In addition, the Minkus Master ( and Supreme) spaces are full of illustrations, eliminating guesswork. Yes, I do have Minkus catalogues as a back-up, but rarely have to consult them to figure out a space.

If there is a criticism of the Minkus Master (and Supreme) pages, it is that each page tends to cover a too wide time period (in my opinion), and the time periods can overlap from page to page.

1961 Master Dust Cover Testimony
If one wants a one volume WW album to have fun with today, that is "filling spaces", I think the Minkus Global Master is a very good choice, with the H.E. Harris Citation album as a possible rival (see comments below).

The Minkus Global Master is especially a good choice if you do not want to limit your collecting WW to 1840-1940, but would also like spaces available into the "semi-modern era (1941-1960) and possibly beyond. Yet, you would like a one volume solution to keep WW collecting clean and simple.

If you would like to limit the WW collecting date to 1940, then Big Blue 1840-1940 one volume enters the equation; if you would like to limit the WW collecting date to 1952, then the two volume Minkus Global Supreme might be a better choice for you than the one volume Master. Be aware that these albums can be more demanding of time and effort, and more costly to fill.

Are there others that should be considered from the golden era of (U.S. based) WW albums from the 1950s through the 1970s?

I have the Grossman Stamp Company of New York "The Regent World Stamp Album"- Edition 1956; Fourth printing 1959. It has a capacity of 50,000 stamps with 35,000 Illustrations. It was my childhood album that I begged my parents for when I was twelve. It appears to have approximately the same coverage for the time period, but there is a fatal flaw that rules it out: The paper has turned slightly brownish. Obviously, the paper used for the Regent was far from "acid free", and I would not want to use the album today.

I also have the H.E. Harris & Co., Boston, Mass. "Masterwork" "Senior Statesman World Stamp Album" Edition 1973 with 55,000 stamp capacity. Again, the paper has now developed a subtle off white. Not as obvious as the Regent, but a concern. And the album has an abundance of blank spaces - which is either an asset or a mark against it - I lean toward the latter.

Austria 1850-1901
Harris Citation 1963 Edition
Scan from locobot (Daniel Sample) of the SCF Forum
The H.E. Harris "The Citation Stamp Album - The World's Largest Capacity Volume" (1963 edition - 65,000 spaces/ 42,500 Illustrations) might be a rival for the Master, but I don't have a copy. 

However, comparing the Austria page, it appears the Citation has approximately the same coverage as the Master for Austria. The Citation definitely uses every square inch. For myself, I prefer the layout of the Master.

( For more comprehensive coverage, the Minkus Supreme is better choice for early Austria than either the Master or Citation.)

1963 Edition Citation Title Page
Scan from locobot (Daniel Sample) of the SCF Forum
But, I know of several collectors on stamp forums that do use the Citation. So the Citation is in the mix with the Master as a one volume choice in today's world.

This might be a good place to slip in some statistics on WW total stamp production over the decades.

"Ball Park" Stats...
1840-1940 WW, with addition of  British Commonwealth to 1952: ~ 83,000 total stamps
1840-1959 WW: ~ 135,000 total stamps*
1840-1969 WW: ~ 190,000 total stamps*
1840-2010 WW: ~ 600,000+ total stamps*

* From Stamp Collecting Blog Website. Thanks Keijo!

1961 Master Edition Face Page 
-1952 Edition Master: 1,250 pages; 55,000 spaces; 24,000 illustrations; No Minkus numbers in spaces. (I don't have - source from Internet for statistics.)

-1956 Edition Master: 1,290 pages; 56,000 spaces; 29,000 illustrations; No Minkus numbers in spaces. (I have.)

-1961 Edition Master: 1,376 pages; 58,000 spaces; 38,000 illustrations; Minkus numbers in spaces.
(I have.)

-1966 Edition Master: 1,650 pages; 65,000 spaces; 55,000 illustrations: Minkus numbers in spaces
(I don't have - source from Internet for statistics.)

-"1954 Enhanced Edition"* 1840-1952 Supreme: 2,126 pages; 76,000 spaces; no Minkus numbers in spaces. (I have.)

*Note: the Supreme "1954 Edition" as sold now by Amos Advantage is not the original 1954 Supreme edition, but an enhanced version with additional country coverage, and an ending year of 1956 in rare cases.

By the way the page count is single sided: Divide in two to get the correct number of double-sided pages.

Note how many more illustrations were added (9,000) between the Master editions of 1956 and 1961. Also, Minkus numbers were added to the spaces for the 1961 edition because the Minkus WW catalogue had been published. Note that 86 pages and 2000 spaces were added between 1956 and 1961. But this would not have been enough within the confines of one volume to keep all the prior earlier issue spaces. Something would have to give.

I don't have a copy of the 1966 edition Master, but the internet source (with pic of the cover jacket with the stats) shows a one volume Master that has grown by 274 pages and 7,000 spaces and 17,000 illustrations compared to the 1961 edition. Although the increase is impressive, this too would have required a down-sizing of earlier pages to make way for the latest stamps. What is even more impressive are the increasing number of illustrations for the stamp spaces.

It appears the Enhanced edition Supreme offers about 20,000 spaces more for the 1840-1952 time era, compared to the 1952 edition Master. The uncertainty is due to the fact that the two editions are not strictly comparable with different time cutoffs.  The 1952 Master edition covers up to 1951-52?, while the enhanced Supreme coverage is nominally up to 1952, but occasionally goes to 1954, and in rare cases, up to 1956.

And of course subsequent Master editions (my examples 1956, 1961, 1966) would offer less coverage of the 1840- 1952 era, compared to the 1952 Master edition, to make room for additional year coverage.

1962 Supplement pages for
Master and Supreme Albums
The Master one volume was first issued in 1952. The Supreme two volume was first issued in 1954.

Supplements were first issued, I believe in 1955 - and NOT a surprise - the supplement coverage was the same for both albums (with a few limited exceptions). What does that mean practically? Well, if one added supplements to the base edition album after one bought it (whether the Master or the Supreme), the album pages are identical!

But look how many pages are added each year as supplements- the year 1962 (above example), it is 320 pages and 5000 spaces!

Clearly, something has to give if a "new edition" one volume Master or a two volume Supreme comes out, say in 1962. Some pages will need to be removed (or spaces rearranged tighter) if one is still limited to one volume (Master)  or two volumes (Supreme).

Actually, we do know more about the Supreme, thanks to James (Moosewood) from the UK who posted on this topic at Stamp Community Family Forum.  Basically there were three major editions produced for the Supreme - 1954 ( two volumes), 1959 (two volumes), and 1966 (three volumes). For the years between major editions, yearly supplements were added. 

As said, Supreme solved the problem with a revamped expanded edition in 1966 - by coming out in three volumes (124,650 spaces with 1966 supplement, 3712 pages). The Supreme in 1966 was published as Volume I (US, Aden to Gilbert & Ellice Isl - 43,900 spaces, 28,600 illustrations, 1,312 pages); Volume II (Great Britain to Papua - 39,850 spaces, 26,700 illustrations, 1,184 pages); & Volume III (Paraguay to Zanzibar - 40,900 spaces, 26,800 illustrations, 1,216 pages).

It is unclear to me what exactly was done to the Supreme while it was still two volumes? The best case scenario (as James describes) would be adding supplements,to the previous edition until a new edition was developed. But wouldn't that burst the two volume capacity?  One would think earlier issue spaces would have had to be reduced to make room for the latest issues of the day.  But perhaps the two volume binders (which do have a large capacity) could and did handle the supplements? As I said, it is still unclear to me.

However, Amos Advantage solved the problem by offering, rather, the "supplement"pages for 1953-1963 (Part II) and 1964-66 (Part III), which one then adds to the "enhanced 1954 edition". With this, the Amos Advantage pages for the Supreme should offer equivalent coverage to the iconic 1966 Supreme three volume set.

Well, what did the one volume Master do? I can answer that question, as I have a 1956 edition Master and a 1961 edition Master. We will see in a moment. (Hint: some rearranging and reduced coverage of earlier issues.)

Global Supreme
First page- Germany
We will set the groundwork by first showing what a Supreme offers - here, the first page coverage for Germany. The stamps in the scan are extras - my primary collection up to 1940 is in Deep Blue (Steiner). Note the Supreme page covers 1872-1900.

Global Master 1956 Edition
First page- Germany
So here is the first page coverage for Germany 1872-1902 for the 1956 edition Global Master.

I think the presentation is as aesthetically pleasing as one can expect considering the number of spaces on the page.

The paper from the 1956 edition is in good shape, and I wouldn't hesitate to add stamps to the album.

Note though the more representative coverage in the Master compared to the Supreme.

What takes seven rows and 49 spaces in the Supreme is accomplished by three rows and 23 spaces in the Master. But the issues are covered- just not in such depth.  One gets 90% of the educational value for 10% of the effort in terms of cost and space.

 I would argue that is a good thing for a clean one volume approach to WW collecting.

Global Master 1961 Edition
First page - Germany
And here is the 1961 edition Master, also in good condition, and ready for stamps to be added.

The illustration count for the first page goes from 16 (1956 edition) to 21 (1961 edition). Minkus numbers have been added to the spaces.

And the spaces have been rearranged! Space count is up from 49 to 52.

And doing the math, The 1961 edition Master averages 42 stamps per page for the album. That is necessary if one is going to stuff 58,000 spaces into one volume.

But note the stamp coverage, based on the first page (seven rows - 49 spaces) of the Supreme, has been reduced from three rows (23 spaces) in the 1956 Master edition to two rows (17 spaces) in the 1961 Master edition..

Clearly, if the Master was to remain one volume, something had to give.

Is it worth it?

Yes, if the collector would like to additionally cover issues up to 1960 by using the 1961 Master. I'm in this camp.

No, if the collector would prefer more coverage of the earlier issues. The 1956 edition Master would be the better choice. But the trade-off: coverage stops at 1955.

And the earlier issues are covered even more with a 1953 edition Master I saw on the internet. Specifically, for Great Britain and first page coverage, the 1956 edition has 38 spaces for the Victorians, while the 1953 edition has 66 spaces- the whole page. Of course, if one is really interested in great coverage of earlier issues, just go with the Supreme. ;-)

Trade-offs, trade-offs: the collector will need to decide priorities.

Global Master 1961 Edition
1956-58 Germany Page
Here is a pic of the Germany 1956-58 page from the Master 1961 edition.

There are engraved stamps, embossed stamps, multicolored lithographic stamps, semi-postal stamps, and wonderful opportunities to learn more about the cultural history of Germany. This is so different than the classical era, which is part of the attraction.

With 58,000 spaces, and covering 1840-1960 WW in one volume, what's not to like about this Master?

Global Master 1961 Edition
Iceland 1976-1925 First Page
Isn't a full page of stamps breathtaking?

For the collector that spends some time filling the spaces in the Master, this should not be an infrequent sight, as the stamps are quite affordable and available.

One gets 90% of the glories and rewards of WW stamp collecting for 10% of the effort that would be required for a multi-volume WW collection.

Deep Blue (Steiner) 
Stamps of 1920-22 Iceland Issue not in Master Global
A reality check: The number of stamps one will have in the album for an individual issue will be modest in the Master. Here is a scan showing the stamps that are missing for the 1920-22 "King Christian X" issue.

But in my view the end result may very well be worth it: WW collecting that is simple, fun, and inexpensive.

1961 Edition Master Global
1947-57 Iceland Third Page 
Well, that all sounds fine, but what if the collector harbors reservations about putting stamps in albums for various legitimite reasons?

* The hinges these days are not very peelable. And hinging a stamp can lead to damage with attempted removal. And then there is the loss in CV with hinged stamps vs never hinged stamps.

* Sure, I can use stamp mounts. But that is expensive. Is it really worth it to use a stamp mount on a minimum CV stamp?

* Well, the album paper may look O.K., but most (all?) album paper used years ago carries the risk of becoming acidic over time. I don't want to damage my stamps.

I don't have a definitive answer for these questions, because I wrestle with them too.

I have, in the past, used Dennison hinges, which are peelable. The remaining supplies of Dennison hinges are expensive these days though. I generally will never hinge a stamp that has never been hinged before. I now have a supply of Supersafe hinges (Germany- Prinz). They do have to be used carefully (not too much moisture), as they can end up like concrete.

One should be aware, as a WW collector, that a country collections are much less expensive if the stamps are lightly hinged, rather than never hinged. I have better things to do with my stamp funds then pay a premium for a perfect back of a stamp.

Today, I tend to hinge less.  I might, for example, choose to hinge the 1941-1970 communist countries where the stamps, all previously lightly hinged, are at minimum CV.

For the 1840-1940 era and Deep Blue (Steiner), I put all of the stamps into mounts, even those that probably don't deserve this level of care. ;-) For the 1941-1970 era, I'm now putting many of them in stamp mounts. I am afraid, frankly, of the modern hinge and the potential damage that can be done.
It is true that stamp mounts (I use spit backed clear Scott mounts made by Prinz) can cost at or above the real value of a stamp. But stamp collecting is a series of decisions, and I just feel more comfortable doing this. And the worth of a stamp to me (aesthetics, history, culture) has little to do with the CV.

Finally, it is true that very little album paper used in the past is truly "archival". In fact, I suspect the album paper sold today is rarely "archival" either. "Archival" paper should be lignin free, preferably alkaline (with the addition of soda ash or calcium carbonate), and often made with 25% or greater cotton stock. What I did for the Deep Blue (Steiner) pages is select an "acid-free" variety. And all the stamps are encased in mounts. Que Sera,Sera.

My Minkus Global Supreme collection (1840-1970) is on new paper bought recently from Amos Advantage.

Well, what about using old albums, with their paper, as I am suggesting for the Global Master?

Never use an older album where the paper appears to be changing because of lignin content or increasing acidity.

First, I would pick an album with paper that looks relatively fresh. The Minkus albums generally seem O.K. And one can always use mounts. Beyond that, one will frankly have to assume a small risk regarding acid exposure.

Well, are there other alternatives?

Mirror 1947-57 Iceland Third Page Master Global
In Hagner Stock Sheet

For the Global Master album, if one is reluctant to actually put stamps in the album, one can use the Master as a template, and put together a "Virtual" Master. !!!!

Here the third 1947-57 Iceland page in the 1961 edition Master album is "mirrored" by using a Hagner stock sheet. !!!!!!

Pretty neat, No?

(I should have used a seven row Hagner rather than a six row, but no matter- I'm sure you get the point.)

One can go even further with this idea.

See Ron Olin's "An Unusual Approach to a Classical Period Album".

61 Edition Master Global 
1949-59 Iceland Fourth Page
If I was starting over, and wanted to collect WW with a minimum of fuss, and know what I know now, I would consider a clean simple one volume approach to WW collecting: The Minkus Global Master.

1961 Master Global Album Dust Cover
Out of the Blue
I hope you enjoyed the discussion and the scans

And if you are a collector that is entertaining the idea of starting a WW collection, perhaps this blog post is food for thought.

Note: Thanks to Daniel Sample (locobot) of the Stamp Community Family forum for permission to use his scans of the Austria page 1 Citation album, and the 1963 Citation album title page.

Comments appreciated!


  1. For an idea of the number of stamps involved in alternative albums, specifically the Scott International albums for parts I through V which cover through 1963 (note that the modern Va album adds coverage through 1965 whereas earlier versions went from 1960-1965 for the V album), here are my counts: Part I -34,410, Part II -16,857, Part III - 14,035, Part IV - 8,621, and Part V - 11,662. There are some slight differences in different printings of these albums but these should be the counts for the new currently shipping albums from Amos Media barring counting errors on my part.

    As a progress note, I have just reached 16.0% coverage of the International Parts I-V albums in my personal collection.

  2. Thanks Albumfilling for the info...

    85,585 space count then from 1840-1963...

  3. Thanks for our report, Albumfilling.

    I think there are minor variations, even between the copyright dates, in the pages Scott included in these five volumes. And I've noticed there are duplicate pages and replacement pages inserted, but the original pages have not been take out. Moreover, if you have a brand new album, the count may differ from a secondhand album where the previous owner inserted up-date pages. Finally there's the question of how to count se-tenants; Scott seems inconsistent on this.

    Agreeing on an exact count becomes difficult. Actually, we're counting albums that are not identical. So, my count differs from albumfilling's, as follows:

    Part 1 -- 34,711
    Part 2 -- 17,187
    Part 3 -- 14,991
    Part 4 -- 8,613
    Part 5 -- 20,032 (through part/most of 1965)

    A total of 95,534 spaces, about 10,000 more than Albumfilling's count. The biggest difference is in Part 5 because my count goes into 1965, his through 1963.

    I get bug-eyed when I count.

    1. The first line of the above comment should read "your report", not "our report."

  4. I actually had another printing of the Part II album which agreed much closer with your count and an older Part V album which goes through 1965 which I had acquired after I started filling the "current" Part V album which was divided into Part V and Va albums and it, also, is much closer on the counts to your album. I had considered moving over to the older, more complete Part V album but decided that I had enough on my plate as is. I do find it fascinating that Scott continually changed the older albums with new printings often removing some countries entirely or abbreviating some of the content, not generally by much but definitely some significant changes. It would be fascinating to see their internal editorial notes on the changes if they in fact exist. :)

  5. I just acquired a Minkus Master Global album and noticed a different set of contents than on your first page for Germany. In particular it has a sub-heading of "Issues of 1872-1902" and shows three stamps on the first line in positions 4, 8, and 9. The USA section and the title page are missing and the album has been divided into two binders with glassine interleaving between pages. Coverage seems to include through 1959 at the most with several countries stopping in 1958. Does anyone have an album with this configuration that could identify the copyright date for the pages? I bought it to raid for my International's but would like to know a bit more about the album as is.

    1. I would hazard a 1959 or 1960 copyright. Does it have Minkus numbers in the spaces?

  6. No, there are no Minkus numbers in the spaces. I did go through counting up the number of stamps currently in the album and came up with 10,124 as a count so it is fairly well occupied. Fortunately for my purpose it has a fairly high number of mint hinged stamps in the album as I am looking for mint stamps for my International I-V (1840-1963) set. Plus I want to see how many countries I can get stamps for my Smithsonian Stamp for Every Country album (currently I am up to 341 out of 785 stamp issuing entities). But no Basel as yet. :)

  7. Found a bunch of new countries to add to the Smithsonian album going through the Minkus album and a stockbook in the same box with the album so now have 378 out of 785 stamp issuing entities. Next task is to go through the Minkus album pulling content for the International albums. I am particularly hopeful for the Part I album additions.

  8. Appreciate the updates on your collection albumfilling - feel free to add more as necessary.

  9. Jim: I was wondering if you are familiar with the old "Minkus Comprehensive Album", of the same time period? I have one that was never used and I will take a look and see if I can determine, but perhaps it contained the same page coverage as a Master, but simply in hard bound form?

    1. Hi John

      I'm not sure, but I think the Minkus Comprehensive Album was not as "comprehensive' as the Master. You could check, though by comparing the first page of Iceland and Germany with what I show here for the Master. Let me know.

  10. Yep, not as "comprehensive" after all. 31,000 stamps and 17,500 illustrations.
    I have a Master coming to take up the challenge for my duplicates and less collected countries.