Stamp Department - Part 2

But the great mass of stamp collectors were at heart stamp collectors. They didn't want to advance or pursue a hobby in which their activities were restricted by lack of albums or lack of places where they could obtain stamps. Nor did this great backwash of collectors, who were the very warp and woof of the hobby, relish the idea of being forced to go to special stamp stores - usually upstairs - where they had to state their desires according to catalog numbers and be embarrassed because they didn't know about such things and only wished to make a modest purchase at best.

Into this situation came the stamp department of the large Department Stores. At first such departments merely handled packets and the available stamp albums. The manager of one such department, Jacques Minkus, in Gimbels New York City store, became ever more frustrated at his inability, from the material available, to meet the demands of his clients. More and more he saw the need for better stamp albums, and catalogs. Larger selections of stamps then were available in the "Packets." He sensed, perhaps more than he actually perceived, the demand for stamps and stamp albums for "the man in the street."

stamp department
View of the Gimbels famous stamp department in New York City

What he quite probably did not perceive was that stamp collecting needed a leader. Someone to show the way back to the basic principles that had made the hobby so attractive to millions through the world. Jacques Minkus set out to supply the demands of his clients. He listened carefully to all complaints and then published albums designed to meet the collectors' real needs. Then, in 1953, he began publishing a completely new catalog of the postage stamps of the world, a project completed in 1957. In so doing he broke the bonds that had held the hobby to a single mentor in guiding its steps.