The company producing these was in operation from just after WWII and 196?. I have over 20 from this publisher in my collection, but dating and ordering them has proved rather fuzzy. Sadly the internet has no information about any of these items. Four come from one collector (E Whittaker of Buttershaw), three from another (Shirley Kitch), three from another (D. Flintham of Scopwick), and two from yet a third (D. Hawken of Roche), but the title of the albums changed within these series; it is presumed the three collectors attended in consecutive years. Both series of albums also had two sizes; one 110 x 143 mm, and the larger 114 x 148 mm. Neither series has a date printed on the pages or cover, but two of the albums from one collector, and one from another, actually have written dates next to the collector’s name inside the cover. These are the basis for dating the others. A further six albums came from yet another collector. These post-date all the others and while providing a ‘no-later than’ date for the others, can and are listed separately.
There are clues to ordering the other undated albums. One collector had written 4, 5 and 6 on the front of his albums. I take this to represent their sequence of collection, with 1 to 3 being from another publisher. Grouping of albums is facilitated by looking at the footer of the rear cover. Three styles exist, and their order deduced. I have assumed that once changed they would not revert to an older style. Most albums have adverts for other publications on the rear cover. The content of the adverts helps to group some albums, but more useful is the cost of specific items. A price increase would indicate a later date. The albums also have a stock code number on the rear cover. While logically these would be incremental indicating a sequence, this only works in most cases; there are some anomalies when the best date estimates by other means are applied. Earlier albums, regardless of date had scrolly designs in the top corners of the front cover, later replaced by a leafy design.
Earliest seems to be the Bible Searching Text Book series. I originally assumed that the My Stamp Album series was superseded by The Art Stamp Albums, but the dating suggests that for some reason the two albums ran concurrently. Attempts to have a succession of the two titles produces inconsistencies in the above assumptions. Catalogue numbers jump all over the place, and other publications fall in price.
Against this six of the albums, including examples from all three titles have stamps of the same format. The stamps measure 41x55 mm and are perf 15, with full colour illustrations from the Shaw Picture Library complete with appropriate biblical quote and biblical reference. They are numbered 1 to 52, one for each Sunday of the year. None of the sets are duplicated which suggests they are from different years and that one title followed the other. But two albums had the stamps issued to the children in random order without any regard to the numbering. The two earliest of the Flintham albums had stamps from another source with the Sundays of the year instead of the bible quotes. These stamps were not intended for these albums because they are too small for the spaces provided. The other album had stamps from three different publishers randomly given out. Some Sunday School teachers are clearly not philatelists! They probably reduced costs by carrying over left over sets from previous years, so one cannot rely on the dating by the stamps.
This them is my interpretation of the dating of these albums. When I have more I may be able to sharpen this up. Years are tentative, unless underlined when they are definite.
The earliest in the collection so far are three collected by Shirley Kitch, who wrote 1948 on the cover of the first. This is a Bible Searching Text Book. The next is the same title, and dating is just possible; a slip with hymn numbers for March 26th was found inside. That date fell on a Sunday in 1950, this the album could be the 1949-50 edition. A third is a My Stamp Album. The incomplete page from the 1949 album shows the week’s lesson, which would be covered by a stamp after attending.
1948 1949 1950
The earliest two are estimated to be from 1953-54 and 1954-55 and were part of the Hawken series; he also collected SPCK albums earlier. The 1954 album is entitled Bible Searching Text Box, not seen for any others. The stamps match later editions, except that they just have the Bible chapter and verse. Bearing in mind the title, this suggests the collection was supposed to read that verse and relate it to the stamps. The earlier Art Stamp Album does not have the intended stamps - just what do these sunday school teachers get up to? They are too small for the space provided and are the size of the Church Assembly early stamps They do not match the SPCK stamps used by the same school the previous year and so were not ‘left-overs’. What is unique about this album is that several stamps are not fully stuck in and are folded over to show autographs of what are probably visiting preachers. One such autograph is simply R.J. of St Pauls Cathedral, and another is P.S. Aching, a minister from Nigeria who has helpfully dated his 31st May 1953.
Click album images to enlarge
1955-56 1956-57 1957-58
small format small format large format
A few editions of My Stamp Album follow, but the sequence is probably correct, the the actual years are a good guess. This first example is estimated to be the 1952-53 (or 1953-54) album. It was kindly donated to the collection (many thanks A.P.) and was collected by an Ian Wilson of Walkden, Manchester. It is only missing three stamps, but some of the pages have come loose. Even so it is a welcome addition.
The 1955 album is one with the three different stamp sets from different publishers used assumed to be using up old unused stock by the Sunday School. An S. Williams was the the collector and it is missing only 4 stamps. The other two are both collected by E. Whittaker. The first is missing 1 stamp but they are out of order, while the other is in order but missing 4.
1954-55 1955-56 1956-57
An earlier The Art Stamp Album was listed above and the sequence continues here. The 1954 album is complete. W. Rowley of Smethwick coloured in the background designs on the pages. The 1955 is the first of the Flintham albums. It is 7 stamps short, but those used do not belong to the album. The same applies to one of the 1956 albums, which is short of 6 stamps. The same album was reused the following year, but with the true stamps used.
A second 1956-57 album is complete with stamps and also has been coloured in by Norma Makepeace of Lincoln. It is in quite good condition.
The later two are the last two of Whittaker. The correct stamps are used and while the first is complete it looks like she stopped attending after 17 weeks. The dates assigned are again good guess and are indicative at the moment, but does provide a year to year sequence for the Whittaker albums.
Two pages with the correct stamps
The incorrect stamps used for two years
The album with three different sets all mixed up
The ‘Real’ stamps
Bible Stamp Album
To confuse the situation further a batch of six albums, from this same publisher, titled Bible Stamp Album have been added to the collection. All six were collected by the same boy, Steven Samson of Cumberland Ave, Cadishead, near Sale. He was probably 5 years of age for the first album. Oddly, what is assumed to be the last of the series is duplicated, both cover and stamps. Seemingly, the same materials were used for two consecutive years. Over this period the publisher’s name changed from The Shaw Picture Co to The Pilgrim Press to NSSU, all at the same address. A code number on the back cover of some hints at a dating possibility. What is likely to be the earliest, as judged by being from Shaw Picture Co, continues on from the above album series’ being numbered 7766. There then three numbered P116-61, P273-62 and P811-63. The other (duplicated) pair are un-indexed, but are published by NSSU, like P811-63. This all suggests a continuous run from 1960 through to 1964, but with 1964 also used for 1965.
1960 1961 1962
The albums, in style, do not differ from the other titles above, either in size, cover, or page decoration. Similarly the stamps follow the same format of a religious painting, a sequence number and a biblical quote. Unfortunately all but one have been folded on half (repeatedly). 1960 is complete all but eleven stamps. 1961 is half full of stamps with a large block of them missing over the summer weeks. 1962 has 48 of the 52 stamps. 1963 is lacking 12 stamps. One of the 1964 albums as 50 stamps, while the other has only 18. This one is unfolded and the lack of stamps suggests the collector was now too old for Sunday School.
A further and probably later example collected by Susan Norman is a full album and in reasonable condition. Tentatively dated to 1965, it is an NSSU unindexed example, and working on the above batch of five being sequential it follows that this dates from later.