1901 - 1994
One of the hobby’s major periodicals once called Jacques Minkus “The Merchant Prince of Stamp Collecting,” which is about as apt a title as anyone could use to describe one of the most amazing commercial philatelists in the history of our hobby.
Emigrating to the United States from Germany in 1929 after a brief career as a typesetter and publisher, Minkus settled in the New York City area and decided to go into the stamp business. His powers of persuasion must have been formidable for, in 1931, he had convinced Bernard Gimbel of the famed Gimbel’s Department Store at 33rd and Broadway in Manhattan to allow him to open a small stamp counter in the rear of the store’s ground floor. From there he sold stamps and cacheted covers of his own design and began to ponder developing and producing an entire product line.
One might say, “...and the rest is history.” Minkus was a promoter of the first order. By the mid-1930s, his “stamp counter” had been transformed into a whole stamp department and, by the early 1940s, it dominated the store’s entire main floor. At one time, he employed more than 40 professional philatelists to serve the thousands of stamp collectors who patronized his Gimbel’s department. And by the early 1950s he had expanded his stamp operations to large sections of 38 other major department stores nationwide.
In the late 1940s, Minkus founded Minkus Publications and began designing and publishing stamp albums. His Master Global and Supreme Global Albums were the standard of the era and are still sold today. In 1954, he boldly began publishing stamp catalogues under his name, introducing the iconoclastic New American Stamp Catalogue—a radical and popular departure from the old specialized catalogue format long used by the Scott people. The next year he began publishing a line of worldwide stamp catalogues.
The power of the company under his name waned as he began to take a back seat in the 1970s—finally selling out in the 1980s. But his mark had been made. The hobby has never had an entrepreneur to top him. Maybe it never will!