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How to organize your postage stamp collection
Choosing the best stamp album for the storage and display of your stamps and other philatelic collectibles
Any stamp collector who starts the hobby in childhood and continues through to adulthood can probably remember their first stamp album and the pride they felt on slowly filling the book as their fledgling collection grew. Alongside a pair of tweezers and magnifying glass, the stamp album is an essential part of the philatelist's kit - not only the place to show off your latest finds and most prized stamps, but also a way of keeping your collection organized, and stored safely out of the way of damp, dust and sunlight, which can all be damaging to stamps.
Choosing the best stamp album for your needs, however, is not always simple, and will depend very much on the size of your collection, the age of your stamps, or your specific field of interest. There are also stamp albums which are more suitable for younger stamp collectors and children.
This lens is designed to help you choose the best way of organizing your own collection. And please feel free to let me know what type of stamp album you personally use in the comments.
Use archival quality products!
Whatever type of album you eventually decide on be sure to select one using archival grade "alkaline buffered" paper to neutralize acidity or "archival quality" to prevent long term damage to your stamps.
Pre-printed stamp albums for every country in the world - Country specific stamp albums
A recommended US country stamp album
This expandable, loose-leaf stamp album allows your collection to grow. Great for beginners and serious collectors alike, being fully illustrated with extensive stamp history.
Country specific stamp albums
With tens of thousands of postage stamps produced worldwide every year with some small countries relying on the production of limited runs of decorative stamps aimed almost exclusively at stamp collectors most pre-printed stamp albums today are country specific, with countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom with long postal histories needing several volumes.
A typical country specific stamp album will provide spaces for every stamp listed in either the Scott (USA) or Stanley Gibbons (UK) catalogue, and will sometimes even include a black and white image of the stamp with additional catalogue numbers and details to help in stamp identification. They should also be designed to allow for all variations of stamps as well as souvenir sheets and any special issues.
A vintage stamp album with pre-printed pages
Loose-leaf stamp albums versus stockbooks
Loose-leaf binders allow your collection to grow! - Add extra pages with ease
For my very first stamp collection as a child I used a loose-leaf ring binder album and black mounts. I remember carefully feeding the loose pages of squared paper into my old Brother typewriter and carefully typing the details of each stamp.
As I became more interested in philately I would collect more unusual items and look for mint stamps in gutter pairs, se-tenant strips or traffic light blocks in the margin; using a loose-leaf album and black mounts I could cut to any size, I could easily add to my collection in an organized way. Loose-leaf albums are usually either simple ring binders that snap open and shut or in screw binder format. The choice is entirely down to personal preference - just be sure that extra pages can be added!
Stockbooks are perfect for storing valuable stamps safely! - Protect your rarest items
High quality archival quality stockbook
Why I use stockbooks
As an adult collector I have been more focussed on collecting Victorian line engraved stamps, including the world's first postage stamp - the Penny Black which first appeared in 1840! Keeping tiny fragments of paper which are over 170 years old safe requires a high quality archive quality stockbook. Stockbooks are generally made of extra heavy cardstock with clear strips to hold the stamps or other philatelic items, with each page separated by a clear or glassine interleaf. They are also excellent for young collectors to amass loose used stamps in different thematic groups.
A wonderful US collection in a variety of stamp albums
Traditional hinges versus black mounts!
Traditional stamp hinges - Used by collectors of postally used stamps
Collectors have traditionally used stamp hinges made from lightly gummed transparent paper to mount stamps on album pages. Whilst stamp hinges are designed to be peel-able, I have often seen older stamps with the remnants of old hinges on the reverse. For this reason hinges are usually used on postally used stamps with mounts being used to protect mint gummed stamps from damage.
"Never hinged" is often seen as a prerequisite for high value stamps these days, although many years ago stamp collectors didn't have the sophisticated archive-safe materials we have today and hinges were the norm. For the starter collection of low value used stamps which have been hinged in the past, traditional hinges are just fine, but don't use them on mint or high value "never hinged" stamps!
"Never hinged" stamps
Never use gummed stamp hinges on mint or high value "never hinged" stamps!
Choose the BEST stamp hinges by Stanley Gibbons
If you collect postally used stamps then Stanley Gibbons ready-folded and peelable stamp hinges are simple the best available - easy to use economical for any level of collector!
Black stamp mounts - Mounts really make your stamps stand out beautifully on the page!
Modern black stamp mounts
Modern black stamp mounts are made from a special archive-safe polymer transparent sleeve with a black plastic back.
These mounts generally offer a higher level of protection for your more valuable stamps and are my personal preferred type of mount.
Lens of the Day!
This lens was awarded the Squidoo Lens of the Day trophy on October 10th, 2012.
Many thanks to everyone who dropped by to congratulate me!