Jacques Minkus

Film and philately share a golden era with personalities larger than life,  from a time that is quite different than our own. Jacques Minkus was such a personality. Minkus’s method of selling stamps was to open concessions in major department stores and at its most extensive he had over 35 different shops in many of the largest department stores in the United States including Gimbels in New York. Until about 1960 when retailing trends changed and department stores began to rethink the concept of carrying everything under the sun, more collectors were introduced to our hobby by Minkus stores than any other retail source in the nation.

 Minkus printed his own catalogs and albums and created a sort of alternate universe of philately with novel ways of organizing collections. America had previously been the dominion of Scott but in Minkus world there was no distinctions between the postal purpose of issued stamps in the collecting of them. In his albums and catalogs Minkus listed everything chronologically, putting regular issues next to airmails next to postage dues. This made collecting easier for novices who no longer had to page between sections of a country in order to find the stamp. Critics said that it dumbed down the hobby, making collecting a date and picture show but the reality is that the Minkus system incorporated many of the features of the major European catalogs which list semipostals and airmails with the regular issues. And for United States stamps, Minkus separated commemorative from regular issues probably to facilitate sales (US commemorative complete is affordable, Regular issues complete is impossible). Overall Minkus publishing provided a more modestly priced alternative to Scott albums on lower quality paper and with a more crowded design. Many thousands of current collectors had their first foray into stamps at a Minkus store. His prices were fair and his quality good and the hobby would be far stronger today if there were more outlets like Jacques Minkus.

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