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. Interested? So into the Blues...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How to edit your Steiner pages using PowerPoint

Chris Whitehouse's Edited Steiner Belgian Congo Airmail page
How to edit your Steiner pages using Powerpoint 
by Chris A. Whitehouse

Jims Note: The PDF Steiner pages, essentially available for all countries and eras, have been a godsend for WW collectors. Available from Stamp Albums Web, the cost is $40 for a CD-ROM disc, $40 for a Website annual membership download privilege, or $60 for both. With that, 200,000 pages total (and 6,500 1840-1940 classic era pages) are yours for personal use by printing if you want/need them. 

William (Bill) Steiner, who developed these pages, deserves deep gratitude from all of us WW collectors for making available this enormous stockpile of pages for such a reasonable cost.

But even the most enthusiastic user of Steiner pages will agree that they are a bit on the plain side.

That is why I was most intrigued when Chris Whitehouse presented some posts on The Stamp Forum about how to modify these plain pages into something more.

I contacted Chris, and he graciously agreed to present his Steiner page modification approach to readers of this blog.

A word of caution: Bill Steiner has copyright to his pages, and one is not allowed to sell or give away his pages, and by presumption, even modified ones without his permission. So one can, after paying for access to his pages, only modify pages for one's personal use.

Jim
A Steiner Alexandretta Page Enhanced
How to edit your Steiner pages using Powerpoint by Chris A. Whitehouse

I suspect my stamp collecting journey will sound familiar to many of you.  I started collecting stamps as a young child, about age 8 or 9, when my parents gave me a stamp collecting kit for a birthday present.  Along with a packet of common stamps, tongs, and hinges, this kit contained a small worldwide album (you know the one with the unusual combination of an astronaut and a covered wagon on the cover!).  That was the beginning of my hobby of being a worldwide stamp collector.  Over the years from that time until my teenage years I used a variety of different albums for my collection… names like Traveler, Explorer, Standard, Citation, sound familiar?  At about the age of 16, the stamp collector in me went dormant, and my collection got boxed up and stored in the basement. 

Throughout the years, life got in the way of my stamp collecting, but somewhere in the mid-1980s I did manage to have enough disposable income to buy myself a brand new 2-volume set of Scott International Vol.1 albums.  These albums sat proudly on my bookshelf and traveled with me whenever I moved to a new city or state.  However, life was still too busy and money too tight to do much with my collection other than occasionally thumbing through my albums from time to time.  Then, a few years ago, when I became more settled in my life and career, I decide to get back into stamp collecting again.  I must say that both Bob Skinner’s Filling Spaces and Jim’s BigBlue 1840-1940 blogs were huge inspirations for my return to stamp collecting.  Thus, I was more than thrilled when Jim asked me to write a guest blog post on how I modify my Steiner pages using Microsoft PowerPoint. 

As I mentioned, I collect worldwide classic stamps using the Scott International (or Big Blue) album, but many years ago hearing about these “Steiner pages” that you could print out on your own printer got me curious, so I purchased a subscription for a year and downloaded all the classic pages onto my computer.  I initially had the idea that I would print out all of these pages and migrate my collection over from my Scott International pages.  However, after printing out several hundred, I gave up on that idea.  Anyway, I digress…I often heard people on some of the various stamp collecting discussion boards talk about how much they liked the flexibility and completeness, etc. of the Steiner pages, but how they didn’t like the plain font of the text, the plain border, spacing of the stamp boxes, etc., etc.  Apparently Bill Steiner at one time put out the pages in files that could be modified, but now they are only available in PDF format that everyone was saying couldn’t be modified.

Of course there are various software programs that people are using to make their own album pages from scratch, and there is Adobe Professional that will allow you to modify PDF files.  But these kinds of programs are often quite expensive and require a steep learning curve.  I have been using Microsoft PowerPoint for work and school for many years and have become quite familiar with it.  So I thought it would be great if there was an easy way to convert any PDF into a PowerPoint file.  Turns out there are now many ways to do this.  I obtained a free “app” from the Mac App Store (yes, I use a Mac computer) called appropriately enough “PDF Convert Free.”  But, it turns out there are many different kinds of software applications, and even web-based tools, for doing this conversion.  Once I was able to easily convert my Steiner PDFs into PowerPoint, I was golden!  As I mentioned, I have worked with PowerPoint for at least the past 25 years so I could now easily change the size and font of the text, add interesting historical photos or images of overprints/surcharges, and add additional text and catalogue numbers if I so desired.  Further, I could now add, delete, move, and resize the stamp boxes how I wanted.  Now, yes, this would be A LOT of work for an entire worldwide collection, but is very doable and fun if one wanted to do this for a few select countries or other custom collections.  For example, I have started doing this for my classic airmail collection, but my general worldwide collection is still housed in Big Blue.

Jim asked me to write this guest blog post to give a “how to” guide for others who might be interested in using PowerPoint to edit their Steiner pages.  So here it goes:

[I have also provided screenshots and diagrams to help – a picture is worth a 1000 words as they say. First, the words will be presented (Part 1), then the pictures (Part 2).]

An Enhanced Bechuanaland Protectorate Steiner Page
Part 1

1.        Of course this method requires you to have a subscription or a CD containing the Steiner stamp album pages, which can be purchased at www.stampalbums.com, and access to the Microsoft PowerPoint program.  Next you will also need a way to convert your PDF files into PowerPoint.  I use an app called PDF Converter Free but you can find several, including web-based tools, by using our old friend Google.

2.       Using your converter app/program, convert your Steiner PDF into a PowerPoint file.  Depending on the specific converter program/method you use, the specifics may vary.

3.       Once you have your file in PowerPoint format, you can select the text or stamp boxes you want to modify.  Then just move, delete, stretch, re-type, etc. based on your preference.  At this point you can also copy/paste pictures from the web, add your own text, add catalogue numbers, etc.

           I often will add a picture or two from Wikipedia (no copyright issues!) and images such as overprints/surcharges from my electronic stamp catalogue.  I don’t do this, but you could even photocopy stamp images from your old illustrated stamp album (or get them from the web) and put into the stamp boxes to make your own illustrated stamp album pages.  Be aware, however, that is will take a lot more ink when it comes to printing your pages. 

4.       By adding things to the Master Slide, they will show up on all the slides (pages) in that particular file.  For example, I have been able to make my own borders resembling either Scott International or Scott Specialty borders and, when I paste them on the Master Slide, they occur on every page (make sure to delete the original border on the Steiner page first!).  For the Scott International border, I found a border online that very closely matches.   I also use the Master Slide to add the county title name onto the page.  This way you make sure it is located at the exact same place on every page.  

5.       I’ve also provided a couple of useful tips in PowerPoint that will help you when working on your pages.  For example, turning off “Snap to Grid” will allow for more fine adjustments when moving objects.  Turning on “Static Guides” will give you vertical and horizontal crosshairs that will help in lining objects up evenly.  I also find it a good practice to convert your finished page back into PDF.  This can be done (at least with a Mac) by simply using “Save As” and save as a PDF.    

I hope this short how-to guide is useful for anyone who wants to try using PowerPoint to modify his or her Steiner pages.  I find that it adds another layer of fun and educational enjoyment to stamp collecting.  As I’m sure Jim can attest to, you learn a lot about a country and its stamps by the process of writing about them.

Chris

(End of Part 1)

[I will now provide screenshots and diagrams in the next section.]

A Steiner Togo Airmail Page Enhanced
Part 2  (Click and enlarge illustrated scans (slides) for close examination.)

Open your PDF Converter free program and your Documents side by side.

Drag and drop your PDF file into the PDF Converter Free program dialog box and press the Convert button.

Save the file you like and it will now be saved as a PowerPoint file with an ".pptx" extension.

Now you can open the file in PowerPoint.

Now you can select any different objects (boxes, texts, etc.) and easily move, resize, or delete them. You can also grab pictures from the Internet and add to your page.

Example of my final edited page for Belgian Congo Airmail

Another Example of an edited Belgian Congo Airmail page

Imitation Vintage Border Pages

Tips that help when working with PowerPoint

Tips that help when working with PowerPoint

(End of Part 2)

Your comments and questions are welcome!

Chris
Chris Whitehouse's edited Steiner Belgian Airmail page
Out of the Blue
Jim's Comment
Wow, Chris, that is impressive indeed!

Chris's approach to enhancing Steiner pages for selected parts of one's collection opens up a myriad of possibilities!

Note: All scans and pics for this blog post are courtesy of Chris Whitehouse

Comments appreciated!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Czechoslovakia - Bud's Big Blue

Thomas G. Masaryk
"Champion of Liberty"
USA 1960 Scott 1147 4c blue
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
I avoided Czechoslovakia during my early collecting. Too many stamps for such a small country; often poorly executed, especially the early typograph (letterpress) issues with blurred images. The first of these, featuring Hradcany Castle of Prague, seem an endless progression of the same stamp with color and perforation changes being the only differences among them. Yawn. And their CV is so low they hardly strike one as being worth the bother of sorting.

Delving into the Czechoslovakia’s history changed my mind. Hradcany, for example is the largest castle in the world, dating back to the 9th century. Moreover, their first president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, was the preeminent philosopher-politician of his day, a champion of liberty.

Although BB allows some latitude in the placement of the Hradcany stamps, I have put as many as possible of the imperfs in BB spaces and the perforated in the supplement (a change since the scans were made). Also I have added several Bohemia and Slovakia (“German Protectorate”) stamps to the supplement pages.

Census: 339 in BB spaces, 16 tipped-in, 131 on supplement pages. (40 more added to supplements since the scans were made). 

Jim's Observations
I have a lot of Czechoslovakian stamps. You probably do too. Why? One reason clearly is many of these stamps are at minimum catalog value. That is a bonus for those of us that value a stamp for its intrinsic exquisiteness, and not for its "worth".  In fact, with the Czechoslovakia proper stamp spaces offered, I could only find one semi-postal, - the 1920 overprinted Sokol issue, that, forced by a blank space, requires at least a $12.50 price tag (B142). Amazing!

Czechoslovakia Blog Post and Checklist
Bohemia and Moravia & Slovakia German Protectorates Blog Post and Checklist
Czechoslovakia 1918-1930

Page 1 (Click and enlarge for examination)

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Page 10 ( Bohemia and Moravia)

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Page 11 (Slovakia)

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Supplements
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Comments appreciated!