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...

Sunday, December 9, 2018

My WW Collecting: I'm Going Back to 1840-1940

Jamaica 1860-63 "Victoria"
Wmk "Pineapple"
Into the Deep Blue
I'm back to collecting 1840-1940 WW primarily.


Let me explain.

Close-up of Jamaica 1923 Scott 99 5sh ocher & blue
"Isle of Wood and Water"
My goal for the last several years was to expand the WW collection to include the 1940-1969 years.

And if I had started this ambitious project, say, when I was in my forties - no problem.

But I am of the age where I must take out the Required Minimum Distribution from retirement accounts each year. ;-)

Jamaica 1875 Scott 15 5sh violet
And we have four grand kids (ages 1 year to 5 years) nearby. We pay lots of attention to them.

Jamaica 1907 5p yellow & black 
"Arms of Jamaica"
Chalky paper, Wmk 3
The past several years my collecting strategy was to find and obtain country specialty collections that had stamps through the 1950s-1960s ( and sometimes 1970s-1980s).

Usually, the 1840-1940 segment of the collections offered some stamps I didn't have , while the 1940-1970 portions were mostly new to me.

Jamaica 1908 Scott 49 4p red brown "Victoria"
Ordinary paper, Wmk 3
It is actually a great way to obtain a decent collection for a country, and one is usually only paying in the teens CV wise for the stamps. I recommend it for WW collectors as long as one is also collecting into the 1970s. Many of the stamp filled country specialty albums that are available for sale do seem to stop around 1970, give or take ten years.

To date, I have some 30,000+ WW stamps for the 1940 ~ 1970 years.

Jamaica 1919 Scott 70 5sh carmine & green/yellow
"George V"; Chalky paper
To be more specific, I've obtain collections for Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Belgium, Japan, Portuguese colonies, Turkey, United Nations, Israel, Argentina, Cambodia, Cuba, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Bulgaria, Spanish colonies, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Russia, Austria, Italy, Canada, United States, Korea, Vietnam, Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Australia, Romania, Saar, Salvador, Thailand, Vatican, Venezuela, and Jamaica, to name some of them. ;-)

( For interest, I'm posting some of the Jamaican stamps obtained last week from the Jamaican collection.)

Jamaica 1921 Scott 76 1p orange & carmine 
"Arawak Woman Preparing Cassava", Wmk 3
So if obtaining country collections is a great way to expand one's WW collection, why are you having second thoughts about this approach, Jim Jackson?

Time and Tide wait for no man.
Geoffrey Chaucer

Jamaica 1905-11 Issue, Wmk 3

When I obtain a country collection - say Mexico - I first go through the 1840-1940 portion and add those stamps to the Deep Blue (Steiner) 6,500 classical era pages that I already have housed in some 58 Lighthouse Vario F & G binders. I also upgrade stamps if the newer collection has better copies.

I also attempt, with the extra copies of 1840-1940 stamps that I have, to add them into the spaces found for that era in my Minkus Global Supreme album.

Then I look at the 1940 - 1970 (or so) portion of the country collection, and add them to the Minkus Global Supreme pages, using hinges or  mounts. 

..or not.
Jamaica 1920 Scott 83 1sh bright orange & orange
"Statue of Queen Victoria", Wmk 3
I simply do not have the time to do this justice.

Lately, I find I'm leaving the 1940 ~1970 stamps in the original country albums. Too much work to remove them.

Jamaica 1920 Scott 84 2sh brown & blue
"Memorial to Admiral Rodney", Wmk 3
But that means I have a room (fortunately a spare room) that is getting stocked full of country albums, with some stamps removed, and the rest (extra copies of 1840-1940 stamps & 1940~1970 stamp era) left in the country albums. 

It all feels unresolved and unfinished.

Every time I walk past that room, I'm reminded that the second law of thermodynamics suggests there will be a gradual decline into disorder (entropy).

Jamaica 1921 Scott 99 5sh ocher & blue
"Monument to Sir Charles Metcalfe", Wmk 4
Are there alternatives?

Yes, if I was a younger lad, I would think about putting the 1940-1970 era stamps into Steiner pages. 

But the shelf space required would be rather large, and I don't want to start a new "stamp housing" project. And if I don't have the time to put the stamps into the Minkus Global pages ( or Big Blue pages if I elected that), why do I think I would be able to put them into Steiner pages?

I could have started out my WW collection by gradually accumulating Scott Specialty Country albums, and used them as the basis for the WW collection. Too late for that now.

I could put the 1940-1970 era stamps into Vario pages. I just can't work up much enthusiasm for doing that.

Jamaica 1916 Scott MR2 3p violet/yellow, Wmk 3
True, I really like the stamps during the 1940-1970 era, to say nothing of the history they represent.

But something has to give.

So to constrain the stamp hobby within time and space parameters, I am going to no longer actively collect the 1940-1970 stamp era. 

Want lists for the 1840-1940 era will assume more importance, and country collections (especially those that offer not much new for 1840-1940) will now be ignored.

Jamaica 1912-20 Issue "King George"
Out of the Blue

I have returned to my first love, the 1840-1940 stamp era.

And that slice of philately, as we know, takes a lifetime (and more!) to study.

Comments appreciated!


  1. That was bit unexpected, but I do understand your decision. It's all about time/resources when trying to reach some level of completion.


    1. Thanks Keijo. :-)

      Yes, ideally I would have liked to be able to continue with my expanded ambitions (1940-70), but reality bites. ;-)

  2. Hi Jim, I totally understand your decision. I actually AM a lad in his forties and I quit collecting a wide range because I felt that the hobby was gaining control over me. Now that I got back to a more defined era 1840-1920 (somewhat arbitrary my grandma‘s year of birth) I got back control. To keep the entropy-level low, I gave away all my extra copies. All in all it felt liberating. Best regards, Rob

    1. Thanks for the affirmation, Rob.

      Maybe there needs to be a twelve step program for us WW collectors. ;-)

    2. That is my range as well – 1840-1920 in the Browns. I like that it covers WWI as that was such an interesting time with occupations etc. In an attempt to narrow down my collecting even more, I considered selling off my Brown 1900-1920 to focus solely on 19th c WW, but I’ve become too attached to do that and will continue working on WW to 1920. When I buy larger country lots, after moving over needed items in my range and replacing with better quality, I put everything post 1920 in a Scott Junior Int’l.

    3. Nice plan. I too would not be satisfied with just the 19th century - there are some great issues/bi-colors, as well as the historical impact of WWI during the 1900-1920 years.

  3. Eventually I guess we all come to a point where we arrive at the conclusion that we can't collect it all.

    Not that I have come to that conclusion yet...but I am sure one day I will (unless I win the lottery, then all bets are off!)

    1. Gene - You are a lot younger if I remember right, so you have a good chance to collect it all. ;-)

  4. Totally understandable and the nine volumes that I have for 1840-1963 (four for 1840-1940!) of the International's definitely take up space not to mention the various feeder collections, now up to six volumes of Minkus Supreme and Master Global albums and another six volumes of International binders. Plus I have been collecting some older albums just because they are interesting and some boxes of miscellaneous items have appeared seemingly on their own. Hmm, I think this is getting out of hand!

    On a positive note, I just broke 18.1% completion for the International 1840-1963 range and have high hopes that the to be mounted items already acquired will bring me to 20%. Plus my sideline collection for the Smithsonian Stamp for Every Country album has been a fascinating side trip on its own. It is amazing how difficult it is to locate stamps for that album without breaking the bank on shipping costs in particular!

    Time is definitely proving to be a limiting factor lately (with a nod to finances as an increasing factor as well). Plus the aggravation of stamp hinges that curl and still won't peel reliably and the bulk and costs for mounts are adding some frustration. Finished the Congo book and have started reading through the World History Stamp Atlas by Rossiter, Stuart, and Flower. It is proving fascinating to learn about the development of postal services and the changing governments and boundaries and their impact on stamp issues.

    1. albumfilling - congrats on he 20% completion level! You are advancing rapidly.

      I think each person has to decide the limit (if any) for a WW collection. Sounds like you are still an enthusiastic go!

  5. Hello Jim. This surprised me but I think you're right. We can't collect "everything" really. We once thought we could (when we were very young mostly). A worldwide album like Big Blue, even though it's specifically designed for only a "representative collection" for 1840-1940, plus far more comprehensive coverage since then, now totals over 50 volumes! By this point in stamp history, we're into hundreds of thousands of different worldwide stamps. We either have to collect just certain countries, certain specialties, or certain years. You're wise to decide on a cutoff that's more manageable.

    Have you seen the entirety of the Vintage Reproductions (everything included) 1840-1940 album actually in binders? It's absolutely massive -- very much like your 6000+ Steiner pages, I imagine. It ought to occupy many years of effort and still not be done.

    I'm not sure precisely when the tidal wave of heavily speculative stamps began, but it was sometime after WW II. Collecting before the "Great Flood" began is not at all a bad idea. So why do I collect the world up to 1975? Probably because of personal reasons, my childhood collecting interests, and so on. But I also always rethink how much I can actually manage to deal with all these countries and all these stamps. "Less is more" in stamp collecting, too. I may rethink my cutoff just as you've done.

    I'm retired after years of teaching and getting older. I put off collecting most of the time during my work years (too busy), so my own flood of stamp buying since then is a natural reaction to being retired. My stamp room (formerly home office) is filled with my 30-volume Big Blue (I use narrower binders, so "really" only about 15 Scott volumes) along with many "feeder" albums picked up recently. As much fun as it is, it's also daunting. At times I wonder if I'm becoming a hoarder. My wife says one of these days she's going to find me buried inside all of it. Don't want that to happen.

    What are your plans to deal with the stacks of albums you now don't plan to transfer post-1940 stamps out of? Leaving them seems pointless. They'd be in the way. Maybe sell them? If you do, you may want to avoid "going into the stamp business" selling them one-by-one which would be time-consuming, take time from your own collection, and force you to deal with many different kinds of buyers, mailing, packing boxes, and all that.. Once you're sure you're not going to use material, I'd sell the whole lot and be done with it -- if you can find a buyer. No muss, no fuss. If you do, let's hear about it since some of us may find ourselves in the same boat and be interested in how you choose to do that.

    And you never know, some of us might even be interested in such a purchase. It would be tempting . . . even to me with all my albums. I'm still collecting to 1975. Unless I come to my senses.

    1. Thanks Drew for your incisive comments. What to do with the feeder albums holding 1940-1970 material - I still haven't decided- actually I change my mind every 5 minutes. ;-)

  6. Jim,
    You are exactly like me in your indecisiveness!!! Do not give-up on the 1940-1970 material just yet - you will go back to it (in the same way I have repeatedly gone back to items I swore I’d never collect again!). But there is a solution to all this... designate some collecting priorities: focus on 1840-1940 (because that’s where your heart originally took you) but find a home for 1940-1970 on a ‘pervasive only’ basis - just as and when the mood takes you. That’s basically what I do: I actively “collect” 1840-1940 but “hoard” or “save” items beyond that date - in fact, up to the present day if I find issues I really like. Consider it a variation on your “have your cake and eat it” philosophy. A main collection (1840-1940) and a “post-classic” collection. Admittedly, you have to find a home for your post-classic collection. I collect everything on loose leaf Hawid/Vario leaves. I know you don’t like that idea, so use your Minkus Master or whatever. Just use sticky hinges as quicker and post-1940 not so valuable/fragile. I have neatly laid out collections for everything pre-1940 (with catalogue spaces for each stamp) but after 1940 I just arrange them in choronological order ‘as and when’ they come in...
    But above all, don’t give up on those post-1940s... some of the 1940s (and 1950s) issues are superb - especially those that chart the reconstruction of Europe and the end of colonialism. Enjoy all your stamps - the only redline in my collection is CTO - but if it’s gone through the post with a nice postmark, it’s welcome in my collection!
    (And btw, you’re not too old to complete everything up to 1970! But even if you don’t - and let’s be honest: how many of us will complete? - it’s so much fun discovering new stamps and improving our albums!)
    Take care,

    1. Thanks for your considered opinion Ashley - a lot of wisdom there.

  7. Hello Jim
    I recently discovered your wonderful blog and I'm delighted to discover every pages !
    I'm a WW classical stamps collector from France. I was thinking one had to be crazy to consider such a huge collection, and I'm more than happy to discover there are many other crazy guys like me ! I am a lifelong collector, now in my early sixties, and I regained interest for my collection 10 years ago after a long sleeping period.

    To answer your point, when I resume collecting I began to specialize in the 19th century, first Europe and then the rest of the world, and then I expanded my interest progressively up to WWI and the twenties (1930 is the limit I don't wish to cross, and I put different limits according to the countries)

    1. Thanks for your nice comments Pascal. Yes, 1930 would be a good cutoff date - there were a lot of stamps issued during the 1930s - nice, but not as interesting as Pre 1930.

  8. My cutoff date used to be 1920, but the twenties are the real beginning of commemorative stamps, which is quite interesting.... And some countries like Iceland and Spain issued wonderful illustrated sets in 1930, quite welcome in my collection !

    But we all have to stop somewhere, haven't we ?

    1. Indeed, any cutoff date has pluses and minuses. The reality (for most of us) is that we do need to set a cutoff date for our own sanity.

  9. I keep getting tempted by the Vintage Reproduction pages (I was SO close to punching the button when they recently came up on Ebay), but I'm going to stay true to Big Blue. Just hit 16,000 (46%) with two more feeder albums in the wings. But it'd be so nice to have a place to put them all...but it's also so nice to fill up a page...

    1. Hi Joe

      Nice to hear from you and congrats on the 16,000. !!

      Big Blue is great, but no perfect solution.

      Big Blue, the "Browns" (Vintage), and Steiner (Deep Blue)- each have their advantages.

  10. Just recently reached a new milestone on the International 1840-1963 collection of 22.6% completion with all album parts at 20% or higher. I must admit that finding stamps for the Part I albums is the most fulfilling part of the search, especially since I am restricting stamp additions to uncancelled stamps as a mechanism to slow down the purchase volume.

    Regarding the Smithsonian Stamp for Every Country album, I managed to complete it although I did end up with stamp on stamp issues for Poland #1 and the three Switzerland Canon issues. I ended up with two used stamps in the album, issues for India from 1854 and Vancouver Island. I continue to look for replacements for these but not that seriously due to the high cost of the items.

    Another side collection has been for Finland and I am now concentrating on Scott #'s 1-37 as I have managed to complete the remaining issues to the year 1971 except for a small number of other stamps. Finding no fault Serpentine issues should keep me occupied for years based on my current discovery rate of about one stamp every few months!

    1. Albumfilling - thanks for the update on your collections.

      In regards to the serpentine roulette issues of 1866-74, I remember asking a dealer how much they would cost, and he said it depended on how many intact teeth I wanted. ;-) !!

  11. I have been quite busy for the past few years with additions to my 1840-1963 International albums (Parts 1A1-1B2 and II-V) and can now report that I have reached 41% coverage (just over 14,000) with stamps for the 1840-1940 period, 40% coverage (just over 6,800) with stamps for the 1940-1949 period, and 39.3% coverage (just over 33,700) with stamps for the 1840-1963 entire range. All stamps are uncancelled which I originally chose as a method to slow down purchases (I could not be tempted to purchase something beyond my means if they weren't available to me.) which has turned out to be quite effective. I did relent on the very first page of the US stamps by including cancelled stamps on it as otherwise I would probably never see more than 4 to 5 stamps on the page and NEVER get to fill the first and second stamp positions for the album. :)

    I have, also, started putting some mint duplicates as I get them into a sparkling, almost original condition copyright 1930 International Junior album with the blue leatherette cover which seemed too sad to see it never be used. I decided I would attempt a project to see what stamps I could add to that album through 2030 as at that time it would be a one hundred year old album with only one hundred year old mint stamps in it which seems like a worthwhile endeavor. I now have 4,512 different stamps in that album for its 22,528 stamp spaces for 20% coverage for it as well. It offers the advantage as well that I can take the one volume album with me as I visit stamp stores, shows, or collectors with duplicates to sell. I will admit that before making additions to that album that I check to make sure any new stamps are not missing from my main collection so that the main album receives priority for new stamps that come my way. ;-)

    1. Thanks for the update albumfilling - you are really moving along, and mint to boot!

  12. Hello Jim:

    Thanks for all that you and Bud do for our hobby with this website. I visit it frequently when working on my own collection to get your perspectives and they always show the light I am looking for. Inspired by your site, I am going to attempt to maintain my Big Blue collection online so that hopefully it too can be a resource for fellow collectors. I suspect my project is way too ambitious but we'll see how it goes. Feel free to keep an eye on my online album blog from time to time. It is bigbluecollection.blogspot.com

    All the best and I look forward to your future posts.

    1. Mike - Well congratulations and good luck with your new blog. It is indeed ambitious, as I can attest. ;-)

      I checked your site, and it appears you are using Steiner pages for your collection - right?

  13. Yes, I am using modified Steiner pages for the stamps I have that don't fit in the Scott Big Blues. I've designed a neat way to integrate those pages seamlessly into the Blues. Each stamp has a story and deserves a home somewhere!

    1. Very nice Mike! I will keep tabs on your progress.

  14. I have been continuing with my International Part 1A1-1B2 (1840-1940) and International II-V (but not Va) (1940-1963) collection of mint stamps and can now report that I have reached 17,006 different stamps in the Part I page sets for 49.15% completion and 42,230 stamps in the 1840-1963 album range for 49.27% completion following a visit today to the Nashville TN stamp show after a recent move from the Seattle area to Huntsville AL. Met a correspondent of both Bud and Jim at the Nashville show and Ray McIntire said to say hello to you both.

    I can, also, report that I now have 2,113 of the 5,352 stamps that were issued from 1840-1899 (based on the simplified count of all stamps where the starting date for stamp issues in the Part 1A1-1B2 page sets is below 1900 which does slightly overcount stamp issues before 1900 but is a lot more practical that determining every issue's actual release date!). So far of the 19th century stamps in Big Blue I have 39.48% completion as mint stamps.

    The show was excellent and had some very good exhibits.

    1. 17,000+ mint stamps for 1840-1940 - Wow, I am impressed. I see you used to live in the Seattle area - I live in Oregon - too bad we didn't meet albumfilling. !! Yes, Ray McIntire is very well known to both Bud and myself.