I think this matter has been approached more or less obliquely in other threads - there's certainly no shortage of them weighing the relative merits and drawbacks of the various worldwide albums (Scott International Blues, Browns, the Minkus, and so on).
But I wanted to start a new thread here, because I have a more specific question in mind: How many people started with the Blue album, switched to the Browns, and were happy with the switch?
(Lots of folks are fine with the Blues, or add in supplementary pages, or go with Steiner pages, or something else altogether... but ideally, I'd like to hear from some folks who began with the Blues and then upgraded to the Browns, either with the original albums or the Vintage Reproduction pages.)
My reason for asking is that I'm contemplating the switch myself. Lawrence Block, in his Linn's columns, writes about his collecting experience with the Browns, and is generally satisfied with them. He's enthused by the notion that he will never be able to attain 100% completion, whereas that notion does put me off somewhat... but I'd grin and bear it if it gives my collection some more breathing room.
Going to the Browns, there still may be not enough breathing room for a collection that doesn't fit in the Blues. There are still some omissions that are pretty arbitrary. And you have to absolutely happy with the Scott album system; that includes earlier Scott-declared sets scattered over several pages. Plus the items you might have on piece don't fit in the little box provided.
In any case, if going to any new album, I'd transfer those that needed more breathing room first instead of just starting at "A". It's too easy to run out of gas trying to do things in absolute order unless you're like that.
Plugging album spaces may be all that someone will want. But when you encounter a major shade, perf or type, do you just throw it away? Two such stamps on a new blank page can be done but if they're both 5c stamps, is it worth it?
GeoffHa has already (often) made the case for making your own pages. Quadrille pages make layout flexible and simple. You still can print headers and suchlike, and you can always use album creation programs if you prefer. For one, I prefer to handle many but not all British Empire countries by (standard, not simplified) Stanley Gibbons. And I don't require things like the Scott US C3a page, nor a space for British Guiana #13, so I can just cut out blank spaces for things I'll never have. I'm still leaving spaces in anticipation of possibly filling them; it's not like empty spaces are offensive.
I've got some items on piece and a bunch of cancels resting in stockbooks until I can justify creating pages for the countries in question. And then, there are all those perf varieties. If you make the distinction between imperfs and perfed stamps, should you really ignore different perfs? It's up to you, and once again, your preference may be like mine where it's important in some cases and not in others. For me, seeking out different perfs is a part of my Iran/Persia collection since they come along inexpensively from buying collections. But not for all the overprinted/surcharged issues as yet.
Still sticking with the blues for now but also working on a Minkus Supreme Global album too... both have pluses and minuses… I've been adding extra pages to the Blue and I've only had glimpses of the Browns (mainly old bound versions) Back in the day if I could have found a set at a reasonable price I probably would have went that route. I would like to hear from folks too that went with the Browns. One question I have is would the Browns be comparable to a set of Scott Specialty Albums from the same era? If cost wasn't an issue a bookcase of Green-bound albums would be pretty spiffy. I have only seen one collector do this, and there still wasn't space for some stamps and he wound up mounting them on the side just like in any Blue! One could "build" a world collection with Scott Specialties one at a time. Finding used ones that are fairly affordable is possible.
When you say 'Browns,' if you're referring to the Vintage Reproduction albums, I switched over from the 'Blues' around 10-years ago and never looked back. The pages are larger and are single-sided, both being enough to have tempted me to consider switching. Meanwhile, I have an old Scott Brown that covers from 1840 to 1900 which I'm using strictly for fancy and SON cancels. This album is bound so there's no way to add pages to it, but it serves my purpose. I fell over it several years ago and bought it since it had never been used. Are they making these again? This album, like my Blues, are double sided.
The "Browns" are 80 or more years out of print, so you can't just email your supplier and buy a set. What you appear to be referring to are Subway Stamp Shop's reproduction pages using the old Scott International page layouts, the ones Scott later turned into their Specialty albums. Subway brands them as their "Vintage Reproduction" pages. They cover only 1840-1940, so if you also want to collect after 1940, you also need volumes of the Big Blue album, the current Scott International album which is pretty comprehensive in its coverage for those years (not for the previous hundred years though). If you already own the Big Blue International, then you're all set for the post-1940 pages.
One route toward completion would be to use all the Scott Specialty albums and fill up a few bookcases with them. Those are, after all, the old "Brown" album page layouts. That would be a partial way to collect all the stamps ever issued -- if that's your goal. But a very large number of countries that once were in the Brown albums a hundred years ago do not have separate Specialty albums for them. So even a complete set of every single green-covered Specialty album wouldn't provide spaces for everything, just the countries Scott/Amos Media still publishes albums for.
Or you could buy an old set of the Browns, though they're extremely old now and were only available in sewn-binding volumes, not loose-leaf. First you'd have to find a good, usable set. Most are now pretty trashed, the paper brittle or getting brittle. I wouldn't be comfortable putting my stamps on those pages. And, if you did start to fill the pages, you'd have the problem of albums bulging enormously after awhile since there's no way to add page spacers to sewn-binding albums. And they only go up to 1940, at best, maybe not quite that far depending on which vintage of Browns you find. So you'd still need Big Blue pages for after that point.
That leaves Subway's Vintage Reproduction pages which cover the first hundred years of stamps from 1840-1940. For some reason Scott/Amos gave Subway permission to use those layouts which are the same layouts Scott used for decades in their Brown Internationals before they ended and those pages were spun off into the many green Specialty albums. The enormous number of pages involved in a complete set of VR albums is seriously overwhelming, many shelves worth, in fact. I've seen photos of the entire VR set of albums, and it's kind of staggering, to say the least. Better work on your arm strength if you plan to pick up those volumes regularly.
I collect in the blue albums. I've added some home-made (blank) pages here and there to accommodate stamps not in the Blue volumes. Awhile back, I also bought (from Ken Relyea who posts here) a couple of volumes of British Empire Vintage Reproductions pages in used, but good, condition, and I've added some of them where I have a lot more stamps than the Blues permit. I just substitute the many pages the VR edition has for 1840-1940 for the one or two pages the Blue provides for that same period. Obviously, the more I kept doing this, the more I'd be turning my 38-volume Big Blue into an even longer Brown (or VR) album) -- which I don't want to do. I'm too mortal (and old) to do that!
I have no interest in going beyond what I have now. There's just a limit to what I can afford and a limit to the time I have to fill all those spaces. I'll just concentrate on what still needs filling. There is such a thing as biting off more than you can chew -- as is evidenced by the occasional resale of VR pages on eBay I see from time to time. Someone got overly enthusiastic and paid out more than a thousand bucks to buy the whole VR set of pages plus binders, and then found they didn't have the time or the money to do much with them. I mean, you can also live in a 10-bedroom house and own a dozen cars, but most of us have some normal limitations in our lives and don't really need that much. If you do spring for the whole VR album, be sure to clear a lot of bookshelves for them. And be prepared for many years of looking at hundreds of blank or nearly-blank pages you aren't filling up as fast as you'd hoped. The late 19th and early 20th century royalty and business tycoons who had stamp collections like King George V, employed full-time "stamp supervisors" (or managers or whatever they were called) to keep their collections growing and in good shape. You, too, may need to devote 8-hour days for years to make any serious dents in your VR/Brown albums. If so, have fun -- and hold all your calls!
The Vintage Reproductions can be fit into twenty 3-ring binders and only take up two shelves in my Stamp Den's wall of albums. They are indeed heavy, which is their only negative, although if room and finances permit, these could be split up even more to lighten each individual album. To Drew's point, I won't live long enough to fill most, let alone all, of the spaces, especially since I use these only for MNH stamps (keeping many out of my financial reach), but I still love the presentation, both outwardly and inwardly. Sometimes I wonder if one of my specialties is album collecting LOL.
Hy-brasil, agree that the Scott albums are a bit idiosyncratic in their editing - but I must say that the albums strongly appeal to me, even if making/printing one's own albums makes more sense from multiple angles.
I think my biggest qualms about the Browns thus far are: - Will never achieve 100% completion. Some are okay with this (and indeed, prefer it); I, on the other hand, like the fact that I could fully complete the Blue. The extreme rarities e.g. British Guiana, Sweden and those with an astronomical CV will always be out of reach, and something about empty spaces that I *know* will never be filled rankles. - Heft and bulk, at least of the reproductions. docgfd, many thanks for posting a photo of the complete album lineup of the reproductions - I was curious to know what they looked like when fully assembled. Being a city dweller, space is very much at a premium, and I'm not fortunate enough to have a stamp room.
DrewM's comment on 'biting off more than you can chew' is a good one - something tells me that plunging into the Browns, given the above, might be a bit beyond my scope. Wish I had the resources for a stamp supervisor!
Here is a snapshot of my set up - Blues dups on the top shelf; Browns, on the second shelf, my "Final Keeper Collection" of Blues on the third shelf, and all my "feeder collections + a bunch of Blue's albums and country manilla folders on the fourth and fifth shelves. The second image is a closeup of my Browns binders - the large Scott international binders "strengthened" and prettied up to be more "brown-like."
Here's my personal take on Blues vs Browns......
1. I like the Blues because I can most likely complete them and that is a compulsive/OCD need of mine. I am currently more than 99% complete (of 34000 stamps, I need less than 50 stamps to achieve completion - anyone want to sell me Syria 106c or a couple of others??
Who knows how I will feel when I achieve my goal of completion?
2. I use the Subway Browns to house my non-Blues stamps and first layer of Blues dups - more than 50,000 stamps right now.
I find the Brown's too daunting to achieve the level of completion that would make me happy, so I stick to the Blues - even though I have 2.5x more CV in the Subway Browns than in my Blues. I will sell those Subway Browns when I finish all my feeder collection processing and get off my tail to get motivated to do that.....
3. I use a second set of Vario page binders to house my Blues dups
WW1840-1940 Blues is my "fun" collection, so I like the time I can waste on all these stamps! My primary collection area is Classic US....so if WW was my primary ears I might feel more motivated to deep dive into the Browns.
Not at all - I don't like those huge Scott Largest Int'l binders, but that is what the feeder collection I originally purchase came housed in. The pages are like new, but those binders were all torn and separated at their hinges from the sheer weight. So, I rebuilt them with brown leather tape to be bullet proof strong. If I was going to focus on the Brown's I would certainly house them in smaller binders....
Jbodo - I have so many questions about your album setup, one that I'm quite envious of. How'd you create those Brown album labels for the binder spines? And do you have two layers of duplicates for the Blues (some going into one set, the others going into the Browns)? I'm assuming those Browns are the complete set of the Vintage Reproduction pages?
Quote: 1. I like the Blues because I can most likely complete them and that is a compulsive/OCD need of mine. I am currently more than 99% complete (of 34000 stamps, I need less than 50 stamps to achieve completion - anyone want to sell me Syria 106c or a couple of others??
This is honestly my biggest reason for sticking with the Blues for now. But I did manage to snag a Syria 106c - I'll trade you for the Browns
Congrats Jbodo for being down to 50 or so stamps for the Big Blue! Syria 106c is one of those seemingly hard to find stamps for the blues. A decent cat of $240 or so doesn't help when it is kind of scare to find anyway. I'm 56% complete for the Blues to 1940 and no Syra 106c either! Great use of old Scott International Brown Binders, are those vintage? I've never seen a complete set like that before. I'm also tackling a Minkus Supreme Global though 1959 and I'm up to 16% out of 98,071 so I have a ways to go. The Minkus Supreme Binders requires some heavy weight lifting, more than a jumbo International.
Just curious folks-- I have at least 2 complete sets of old Browns from auction lots that I've purchased. One set that are in decent shape, and I've put a few stamps in there that didn't fit my Big Blue (73.5% complete in 4 years, btw), and others are waiting for something.
I've taken a really bad one apart, that didn't have a front cover, page by page, and the pages ended up pretty good. Has anyone dismantled a set and punched the pages and used them? Seems like a lot of work, and I'd hate to completely ruin one that was still presentable and useable, especially a "Part Four", which are harder to find.
It does seem to me that it could make these pages useful again, if it was sensible and carefully done. Just curious what everyone would think on this.