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Album Review: United States Albums

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United States
2880 Posts
Posted 07/20/2011   10:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Rileysan to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Edit 4/4/2012: Added link to Scott Platinum review
Edit 12/15/11: Scott National Hingeless updated
Edit 11/17/11: Schaubek National review completed.

I've been meaning to follow up on a previous thread I started some time ago, and am just now getting around to it.

As I stated in the previous thread, http://goscf.com/t/14031 I made some mistakes when trying to upgrade my albums to something more modern and attractive. Finding useful information about stamp albums is about as easy as getting the truth out of a politician. I find this fact especially bothersome considering the cost of "Luxury" albums.

But I digress

I will be giving reviews and opinions on 6 different US albums made by 4 different manufacturers in multiple posts. I own all of the albums pictured. I welcome your own reviews of albums not presented here.

- Scott Minuteman
- Scott National
- Scott Platinum
- Schaubek National
- Minkus US
- Davo Hingeless US


Scott Minuteman

Pictures are of two different Minuteman albums that I purchased new in 1980; one each for mint and used stamps.

This is your basic starter album for specialized US collectors. The pages are largely complete, containing spaces for nearly all regularly issued postage including most Back of Book (BoB) categories except revenues.

I recommend this only for collectors who are just beginning to specialize in US stamps. Minuteman albums are inexpensive, but cheaply made. These are widely available on eBay for $20-$40 used and new old stock (NOS). The latest version of Scott Minuteman comes in a two part set in 3-ring binders and retails for around $100.





Notice the screw at the end of the post. In order to add pages, one had to take the screws out, remove the pages from the album and add your new pages. Turning the posts around so the screws are at the back helps some, but you still have to remove BoB pages in order to add yearly supplements. Overall, it's not very user friendly.



Having been in my possession for 30+ years, it's no surprise to see it coming apart at the seams. The binder is made from PVC and cardboard, which will start to separate over time even with the gentlest of use.



The split in this binder is a direct result of stuffing too many pages into this album. You may have noticed there are some HE Harris pages in here as well. I added pages so I could place my duplicates in the album as well.


Another major issue with this album is getting it to lay flat. I'm sure we have experienced the frustration of trying to add stamps to an album only to have the previous pages constantly getting in your way.







Overall, I give the Minuteman album a grade of 'C'.
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Edited by Rileysan - 04/04/2012 11:30 am

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Posted 07/20/2011   10:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Scott National

Called "The most comprehensive of US Stamp Albums", the Scott National album has been around for decades. Before hingeless albums, this was THE luxury album, and it was made to last.

The original binders were a hinged, two post binder. The holes of the pages are square cut and unique to Scott binders. The new National albums use 3 ring binders and as such, new pages are not compatible with old binders. I do not know if Scott still makes supplements for two post binders.

Edit: I have since learned that all new pages issued for the Scott National Albums are punched for both 3-ring and 2-post binders, making them backward compatible.

The example shown here is a two post album made in 1976. Albums from this era are widely available on eBay and sell for $40-$50 in good condition. New Scott National albums retail for around $500 (set of 3, 1847-2009).



Scott National Albums are great for the specialized US collector.

Scott albums are instantly recognizable by the heavy duty green binder.



Notice the square post. Thankfully these are made of aluminum and do not rust!



The binder is made of heavy cardboard covered by strong fabric. The spine of the binder is made of spring steel. The fabric tends to fray at the edges over time, but is still very durable.



If you look closely at the post, you will notice the steel rod going through it. The rods act as both a hinge and a binding point for the rods to the spine of the binder. Were I to tear the fabric off the spine, you would see rusty steel. I don't recommend it :)



Like the Minuteman album, the National will not lie flat.




Overall, I give the Scott National Album a grade of 'B'.

Scott National Hingeless


Quote:
For those of us who converted to hingeless albums late in the game, there seems to be precious little information out there regarding the history of Scott's hingeless albums. Some of you may have been around when Scott first introduced the Scott National Hingeless album. I, myself, have only seen photos and have read a handful of threads discussing the topic (including SCF) http://goscf.com/t/10010

Based on the photos, I would bid high and bid often for one of these!


Edit 12/15

I finally found one of these on eBay, and even though I did not win the auction, I took the time to download the images and study the album as best I could.

The first thing I noticed was that the binders were designed in the same way as the original Scott National album, using aluminum, two-post binders. There is a feel of luxury to the album when looking at the embossed, (faux?) leather cover. This is what first attracted me to this album, and until I actually hold one in my hands, I will allow my imagination to run it's course.






I was surprised to read the copyright date on the first page of this album. I didn't realize that Scott was making these albums in the 1970s.








This particular album is a little worse for wear, but that still hasn't discouraged me from wanting to purchase this album.



Unfortunately, things get bad from here. It is my hope that someone in the SCF community will be able to add more information about the pages, mounts, and adhesive used to attach the mounts. The discoloration is simply awful. Is this typical of this album? I don't know. But if it's an indication of the shelf-life of this album, I am disappointed.








For now, I will wait on grading this album until I have actually seen one in person. At that time, I'll be sure to share this information with all of you!
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Edited by Rileysan - 12/15/2011 5:34 pm
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Posted 07/20/2011   10:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Scott Platinum

Housed in a padded, PVC covered, 13 ring binder, the Platinum album contains a place for every major US stamp including special issues, grills (including the 1c 'Z' grill), and locals, but strangely enough, no place for any of the inverts which, in some cases, are more common than many of the 19th century special issues. The pages are of the same, high quality as the National Album pages and will likely last for decades to come.

These were discontinued (in 2004?), but supplements are still available. Scott Platinum albums rarely come up for sale on eBay. There have probably been less than 20 auctions for actual albums with pages this year, and when they do come up, they sell for a premium. There are two listings on eBay, right now. I consider this set a good deal at $600. http://cgi.ebay.com/US-Scott-Platin...em588ee77d4e

Edit: link to iHobb website for supplements.

http://www.ihobb.com/mm5/merchant.m...ode=PLATINUM

Simple and unadorned.


One of my peeves is that Scott went with a proprietary binder that is not compatible with any other album. Once they stop printing supplements, there will be no means of updating.



The spine is made of thick plastic covered by PVC. Considering the price of these new, I'm stunned and disappointed at the poor quality of these binders.



Scott deserves credit for finally designing an album that lays flat. No more fighting to keep pages from flipping over on you!



Mounts are clear, and load from the top.







If not for the poor quality of the binders, I'd give these an 'A'. Instead, I rate it a 'B+'.
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Edited by Rileysan - 04/04/2012 11:28 am
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Posted 07/20/2011   10:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Schaubek National Hingeless album

Edit: 11/17

I forgot about this thread and now that there's been an inquiry, I'll continue on. I'm just so easily distracted with other things ...

The first time I read that Schaubek was printing a US hingeless album using the Scott National pages, I nearly jumped out of my chair. The prospect of combining quality printing, hingeless mounts, and a familiar look & feel was exciting.

In the end, it was too good to be true.



The binder of the Schaubek US National album is simple and unadorned. The spine has no identifying marks except for the Schaubek logo. Labels can be purchased and placed on the spine to identify country and album #. I believe the reasoning behind this is because Schaubek is using the same binder for all new hingeless albums. I have seen these same binders used for US, Canada, and Germany to name a few. The only color I have seen these binders in is blue.




The album set is currently broken into six volumes. Volume 1 (shown here) includes Postmaster Provisionals, regular postage from 1847 through 1934 (ends with the National Parks souvenir sheets), and most back of book except revenues through ~1950. A big plus is that the pages include a spot for ALL major varieties of stamps ... just in case you have a 1c Z-grill





One of the big positives is that the album pages turn flawlessly and lie perfectly flat. No more placing a book on one side of the album to keep the pages flat!





The albums use a proprietary 6 ring binder that is not compatible with other manufacturer's pages (including Vario stockbook pages). The pages, themselves, can be used in a "springback" binder, if so desired, but the pages are slightly larger that the Lighthouse binders so you would have to use a KaBe or Schaubek "springback" binder.





The binders, themselves are a big disappointment. They are made of reinforced & padded PVC and look & feel cheap. Considering how expensive these albums are, this is a big turn-off.



Another disappointment is the quality control. Pictured is one of the mounts that has already broken loose. This was broken right out of the box.



Speaking of mounts, the clear mounts are of the type that are split horizontally across the middle. They require great care when placing stamps so as not to damage them. As a personal preference, I do not like this type of mounts.





The last time I checked, a 5 volume set of these albums were retailing for $1500 (Edit: Full retail is $1700 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS220 ). By most collector's standards, this is insane. Even by the standards of those who are used to the high cost of hingeless albums, this is insane. The average quality just doesn't justify the high cost of the albums.

Due to high cost and average quality, I give these a grade of 'C'
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Edited by Rileysan - 11/18/2011 4:13 pm
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Posted 07/20/2011   10:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Place holder for Minkus
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Posted 07/20/2011   10:40 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Place holder for Davo
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Posted 07/21/2011   12:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add fredcdobbs to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My 2 cents, I agree the Minuteman is a good starter album it's actually a good US album for the money. The pages are a thinner than the National, and my opinion don't do real good with mounts as the weight is a bit much for the pages.

The binder is not even close to the National as far as quality. Pages from the National and Minuteman do not interchange ( at least the older ones) the National as Riley pointed out is a rectangle 2 post where the Minuteman was a round 2 post, you could three hole punch the Minuteman pages and install them in the newer Scott green 3 ring binders and that solves the lay flat issue as well.

The Minuteman has bits of history and stories behind many of the issues printed on the pages which is interesting and if you like that kind of stuff the Minuteman may appeal to you. I am now a National slave, but I like the layout, the classic borders and the stark page with no info other than ID, as well as the green binders and slip cases. The National is real "old school" in my opinion and may not appeal to younger or beginner collectors.

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Rest in Peace
United States
7097 Posts
Posted 07/21/2011   08:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add I_Love_Stamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Honestly, I don't see anything (so far) that makes want to rush and grab my credit card or checkbook. I am, as of recent,in the market for an album so these threads are very helpful. Thank you! Can't wait too see more!
EDIT: Thank you for all your hard work, time and, of course, money that you put into this thread. Amazing. It's hard to find and honest review because usually the reviewer is trying to sell it to you so is only going to "highlight" that aspct, ya know?
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Edited by I_Love_Stamps - 08/10/2011 3:38 pm
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Posted 07/21/2011   09:30 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
3 more reviews to go, ILS. I hope to get to them tonight.
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Posted 07/21/2011   09:35 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jbcev80 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Rileysan

Albums that should be included in this review are:

White Ace
Mystic
Harris

I am not a US collector but I do know of these albums.

Jerry B
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Posted 07/21/2011   09:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Albums that should be included in this review are:


Agreed!

Since I don't own any of these, I can't offer an informed opinion, but my hope is that now I've got the ball rolling, others in our community can post reviews based on their experiences.
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Posted 07/28/2011   08:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add apastuszak to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would be happy to write a White Ace and Mystic review with pictures. I have both. I am transitioning off the White Ace onto the Mystic right now.
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Posted 07/28/2011   08:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add apastuszak to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
it would also be nice to review the Harris Liberty album and the new Minuteman with the 3 ring - stay flat binder.
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Posted 07/28/2011   10:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add apastuszak to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Mystic Heirloom Album Review

The Mystic Heirloom stamp album is made exclusively by Mystic Stamp Company, and is sold currently at 4 different price points:

1. The Mystic Heirloom 3 Volume US Stamp Album Sale Price $38.95 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS111

2. The Mystic Heirloom 3 Volume US Stamp Album Regular Price $58.00 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS112

3. The Mystic Heirloom 3 Volume US Stamp Album, (set of 3) $116.85 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS113

4. The Mystic Heirloom Deluxe 3 Volume US Stamp Album $68.95 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=DS114

The deluxe version of the album is the same album, but with higher quality binders. More on that later.

Mystic also makes optional slip cases available for the binders or $22.95. I can't find a link to them at the moment.

The Binder

Mystic uses 3 ring binders with D rings that allows the pages to lie flat. The binders are green vinyl with gold silkscreened letters on the front and side with the words "America Heirloom Collection of United States Stamps"







Overall, I find the binders to be a little less than stellar. The "Deluxe" versions of the binder use a thicker vinyl, but I feel that the binder could stand to have some thicker cardboard in them, rather than thicker vinyl. My old Minuteman 2 post album has much thicker cardboard in it. The binders are 2" thick.

I give the binder a B+

The Pages

I think the pages are what makes this album shine. They are 70 lb cream colored paper. The pages are standard US Letter Size (8 1/2 x 11) and three hole punched.

The pages are broken up into 3 volumes. Each volume has a cover page and a back page that are the same paper as the regular pages, but are covered in a clear plastic film on the side of the page that touches the binder. The back page usually has some stamp information. Each volume second page contains some nice artwork.



Volume I covers 1847-1984 and includes 2 blank pages. Page 2 has a nice picture of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello. The back page shows Mystic's display at the 2006 DC stamp expo.

Volume II covers 1895-1999 and contains 2 blank pages. The last page contains a nice writeup of the 1 cent Z grill stamp. The second page has a picture of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence and pictures of Franklin, Washington and Jefferson stamps.

Volume III includes 2000-2008 along with usuall back of book stuff - Semi Postals, Airmail, Airmail Special Delivery, Special Delivery, Certified and Registered Mail, Postage Due, Parcel Post, Special Handling, and Confederate Stamps. The back of the book has a number of ads for buying supplements and an order form for blank pages. The Page 2 artwork is title "In Tribute To The Past..." and shows a number of sovenier sheets issued by the USPS in the 2000s.

The Mystic Heirloom 2009 and 2010 supplements are included with the album also.



Like most US albums, the stamps are mounted on the right side and the page on the left is left blank. Mystic took the left blank page and added stamp descriptions to the album, making some use of this wasted space. The album also has clear illustrations for all the stamps and Scott numbers.







The pages, as good as they are, have caused me a very small amount of frustration.

The album is three volumes. Of the 3, Volume II is probably the smallest in terms of page count. When I added the 2010 supplement to Volume III it pretty much filled the binder up.

So I thought I could move some years such as 2000, and 2001 into the Volume II binder. Problem is, when I do that, I end up taking the description of the first page of Volume III to the end of Volume II. So, there's going to be some scanning and printing involved if I choose to go that route.

Something else that I noticed while "moving in" to the new album.

I started moving a good chunk of stamps from my old Minuteman album over to the Heirloom. The 1968 Historic Flag Series(Scott 1345-1354) will clearly fit onto one 8.5"x11" page, but Mystic wants me to break up the stamps instead of mount them as one long strip. I mounted the stamps as one strip across the middle of the page, but I might redesign the sheet to better show off the stamps.

The 1973 postal service employees strip (Scott 1489-1493) is also broken up into individual stamps, but I think that strip may be too long to fit in an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. I don't own the stamps, so I will need to measure it and see.

The 1974 Universal Postal Union Se-Tenant (Scott 1530-1537) is also to be mounted as individual stamps. The Se-Tenant block of 8 that I have will easily fit onto a single page. I mounted those stamps right in the center of the page. I may scan and redesign this page also.

Overall though, the pages are excellent and give the album some added flare and excitement by giving your stamps the descriptions friend and colleagues will appreciate when looking at the album.

I give the album pages an A-

The Supplements

The Mystic album is complete through 2008, and comes with supplements for 2009 and 2010. Mystic's supplements are very reasonably priced:

The Mysic 2009 supplement is available for $5.50 http://www.mysticstamp.com/viewProd...sp?sku=GS752



The supplememt includes pages from previous supplements that correct errors or complete series, so adding a supplement might involve some stamp remounting. The supplements include updates for US duck stamp pages. The duck stamp pages are a seperate set of pages you can buy from Mystic. I don't collect duck stamps, so I just put the pages aside for now.

Another nice thing about the supplements is the cover page, which is titled "The Year In Stamps." It contains pictures and text talking about the stamps issued that year. These pages are not meant to be added to the album, but they are a nice touch to keep you interested in your purchase.

The give the supplement an A+

Conclusion

Overall, the album is an excellent value for the money. The $39.00 price point is absolutely unbelievable. The problems I see with the st-tenant pages can be easily fixed with a scanner and some time.

My overall rating for the album is an B+

If Mystic had someone deisgn binders that sturdier, like the Scott National binders or White Ace, and included those in the deluxe album for, say, $99 I think they would have an A+ on their hands.

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Edited by apastuszak - 07/28/2011 10:52 am
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Posted 07/28/2011   2:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ncbuckeye to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The pages are well worth the money. You can buy nice binders at office depot, etc.
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Posted 07/28/2011   7:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add apastuszak to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
White Ace Album Review

The White Ace Album truly is a work of art. White Ace, however, does not sell an "album." You buy the sheets you need and then buy binders to go with it.

Looking at Global Stamps, you can get a general feel for what a White Ace album is going to cost:

http://www.globalstamps.com/WhiteAc...m_supps1.htm

As an example, if you were going to buy, a "classic era" album, you would need the following:

U.S. Commemorative Singles Pages Part 1 (1893-1939) for $49.50
White Ace United States Binder for $29.50

So now you're at $79.00 and you're only covered through 1939 Commemoratives. Definitives are a separate supplement.

I could see a complete White Ace album easily costing in the $1000 range with slip cases, once you add in the supplements you need for booklet panes and definitives.

The Binder

The White Ace binder feels top notch. It's not a vinyl covered cardboard binder. It's quite stiff with a faux leather cover that is tight over the entire binder. The binder is black with the words "Postage Stamps of the United States" on the front with a decorative design around them.



The spine shows the same words with the White Ace logo.



The rings are fastened against the spine, instead of the back, like a lot of other modern albums. Each binder also comes with 2 black plastic hard sheet protectors. I've had the binder for about 10 years and they're holding up pretty good so far. They appear to be 1 1/2" thick.





10 years of wear have left some minor damage on the binders, but I think that's expected.



Overall the binders feel very sturdy and feel higher quality than vinyl covered binders from albums such as Mystic or The Minuteman.

I rate the binder: A-

The Sheets

The sheets for this album truly are top notch. 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of thick paper with rounded corners. Each sheet has a picture of each stamp along with a description for each stamp along with some very nice custom artwork for the edge of the page..





If a souvenir sheet will fit on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, White Ace crams it in there, even sideways.



If a souvenir sheet will not fit on a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, White Ace. like many album makers expect you to butcher it. The Dinosaurs souvenir sheet, White Ace expects you to cut in HALF. All of the 50 State sheets White Ace wants you to break apart into individual stamps.

Sadly, there are no Scott numbers included on any pages.

I have only one complaint about the sheets.

White Ace offers simplified and complete sheets. Neither one fits the way I collect. The complete set includes all Souvenir sheets with selvage art and requires you collect all se-tenants connected and as individual stamps, as can be seen in the pictures below.




The simplified sheets only make you collect se-tenants connected, but do not include pages for souvenir sheets with selvage art.

Overall, I give the sheets: A-

Conclusion

The White Ace album is an outstanding, but very pricey album. If you have the money to spend, it's probably the most visually stunning album you will see for your stamps, but with annual supplements costing almost $30, it may be too expensive for some stamp collectors.
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Edited by apastuszak - 07/28/2011 7:29 pm
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