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How to organize your postage stamp collection

Updated on September 22, 2014

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

Independence US Stamp Album
Independence US Stamp Album | Source

A recommended US country stamp album

Independence US Stamp Album (212pg) by H.E. Harris
Independence US Stamp Album (212pg) by H.E. Harris

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

Loose-leaf binders
Loose-leaf binders | Source

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

Stockbook with Victorian stamps
Stockbook with Victorian stamps | Source

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

Stamp hinges
Stamp hinges

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!

Photo by 177777 (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

"Never hinged" stamps

Never use gummed stamp hinges on mint or high value "never hinged" stamps!

Choose the BEST stamp hinges by Stanley Gibbons

Stanley Gibbons Stamp Hinges 1 Packet Of 1000 - Folded and Peelable
Stanley Gibbons Stamp Hinges 1 Packet Of 1000 - Folded and Peelable

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!

Stamp mounts
Stamp mounts | Source

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
Lens of the Day

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!

Do you collect postage stamps? - How do YOU organize your own collection?

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    • profile image

      Jerry Sigoloff 2 months ago

      What is the best way to mount stamps about a specially collection.

      By date issued or by country. I am collecting Mother Teresa stamps and cannot decide how to mount them.

      Thanks,

      Jerry Sigoloff

    • lychic profile image

      lychic 4 years ago

      thank you for your information. very helpful!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I sure do and I do need some organization as I am moving and I don't want my collection to get wrinkled or anything...

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 4 years ago

      Thanks so much for the information about How to organize your postage stamp collection because I used to collect stamps as a child and it brings back such memories. blessings

    • profile image

      kayla_harris 4 years ago

      Yeah, I like collecting postage stamps very much!

    • profile image

      hilman48 4 years ago

      as a child, I also like to collect stamps.

      This lens reminds me of my childhood

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very nice and great tips!

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      Interesting. I just inherited a bunch of old stamps. None of them were stored in a professional way. Just stuck in envelopes and boxes. This will be helpful as I wade through what I have. Thanks. d

    • makorip lm profile image

      makorip lm 4 years ago

      A perfect guide to the care and collection of stamps. Loved doing this for many years and hope to again pursue this wonderful hobby.

    • SherriDW profile image

      SherriDW 4 years ago

      I collected as a child, and my collection is really in a mess right now. Thanks for all the great tips. I will be bookmarking this page for reference this winter to start to finally do something with all those stamps!!!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      I inherited my aunt's collection (boxes of them) and have no idea what they are worth or how to sell them. This is a useful information. Thanks

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      No, but as a kid I collected stamps from other countries for a while. This is a rewarding hobby, but difficult to keep up with if you don't know what you're doing. Your page is timely for new stamp collectors I'm sure. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • Srena44 profile image

      Srena44 4 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm not a stamp collector but can certainly appreciate the care and effort that goes into properly displaying a collection, an excellent tutorial on how to organized stamp collections effectively, efficiently and attractively. Congratulations on LotD honors!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      Great tips! Congratulations on LotD!

    • profile image

      EllisRosie 4 years ago

      I do not collect stamps but this one's interesting. Congratulations on the LOTD award! :)

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      Congratulations on winning the Lens of The Day (LOTD)!!!

    • Jack2205 profile image

      Jack 4 years ago

      I used to collect stamps when I was a child but I don't anymore.

    • Jemecan profile image

      Jemecan 4 years ago

      Used to when i was a kid.

    • Isabellas-cabin profile image

      Isabellas-cabin 4 years ago

      Do you know of any website or individual who is buying stamps? My husband and I are going to be moving soon and he found a stamp collection he did not even know was present. We are looking to sell this and cannot find someone wanting to buy it. Do you know of anyone who is buying these?

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 4 years ago from California

      Congratulations on LOTD. I have never had a stamp collection but I knew about being careful with pictures and the kind of albums not to use, so was not surprised same precautions needed to be taken with stamps. I have a few postcard albums from my parents. In them are birthday and postcards from 1901 and I think the latest ones were probably 1934 or something close to that. Of course some do have stamps on them. They were sent from England. Quite a bit of history, not sure how valuable they are though.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      I was a very active collector as a child. I put many stamps in an album, and later, for some reason I don't remember, I started taking them back off again. I used hinges, and some stamps were damaged by them. If you take a hinge off while it is still damp, you will damage something. As an adult, I had less time. I still collect stamps off mail and soak them, and I still collect plate blocks of US stamps when I can. I am dubious about the durability of the modern stamp sheets with self-stick adhesives. I also collected UN stamps for awhile, and Japanese First Day Covers (because they have such beautiful engraved art on the envelopes. But I don't know where my first collection is at the moment; I hope to find it soon.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      I have three large albums of worldwide stamps that my Dad gave me. Most of them are old stamps that he used to collect when he was a child. I was really into stamp collecting many years ago but had a hard time filling up the preprinted pages. And it was costly. So, I have not looked at these for a while.

      Thanks for enlightenibg me on the "never hinged" stamps and many valuable information. Blessed.*****

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      I had a stamp collection as a child in the 70's/early 80's. I am sure it is still around somewhere, most likely in a box buried deep within the junk at my parents house still. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Long, long ago in another life far away, I collected stamps. I still have a large box in the garage that contains this collection. Now I'm wondering what to do with it.

    • profile image

      JZinoBodyArt 4 years ago

      I'm not a stamp collector but either way, great lens! Congratulations!

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Very nice and congratulations!

    • profile image

      SelenaFox 4 years ago

      so sweet

    • nicenet profile image

      nicey 4 years ago

      I will love to start the hobby of collecting stamps. Your lens has encouraged me,

    • profile image

      lanealanea 4 years ago

      No, I do not, but I know people who do and this is a really nice idea and page. Thank you, :-)

    • profile image

      JadaFuego 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD!! Stamp collecting has always looked to be fun to me...looks like it can turn a nice profit too!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Used to collect stamps. Wish I had continued. Congrats on LOTD and blessed.

    • Deborah Swain profile image
      Author

      Deborah Swain 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Hi - Absolutely - I would only ever use flat ended tweezers...but I have always called them "tweezers" not tongs! (It might be a British vs US English thing... Stanley Gibbons website calls them "tweezers"...)

    • profile image

      enetwal 4 years ago

      Nice lens, one minor point use a stamp tong, not a tweezers to handle stamps. Tongs are flat on the inside of the business end. Tweezers usually have indented areas that pose potential risks to stamps.

      I graduated from collecting stamps to collecting the entire envelop upon which stamps were affixed. That greatly expands the hobby into understanding how the stamps were used, and the postal rates, routes and history represented by the use of the mails.

    • profile image

      SkiLoverAlpine 4 years ago

      Yeah, the black stamp mounts really make a difference in the look of your collection.

    • octopen profile image

      octopen 4 years ago

      I started collecting stamps since I was 12 and have never stopped. Found some real gems too...

    • profile image

      ChristmasIdeaShop 4 years ago

      My childhood memory brought back too. I used to collect stamps but as I got older my interests changed and I gave my collection to my nephew. I am not sure if he still collects stamps or even has my original collection. I see there are a lot more supplies and options than there were years ago.

    • Mussarat LM profile image

      Mussarat J Moghal 4 years ago from Ontario Canada

      You remind me my childhood hobby. I used to collect stamps in childhood. Still hav that collection somewhere in the storage.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I don't collect stamps but I certainly appreciate the value in your approach and methods. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 4 years ago from Vermont

      I once worked at Kenmore Stamp, first as a stamp "puller" to fulfill approvals for all types of collectors, then later as their marketing department graphic artist. We designed many specialty albums for new issues and rare collectibles, plus all sorts of marketing materials.

    • profile image

      faye durham 4 years ago

      Great tips on how to organize my collection. Congrats on LOTD honors.

    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 4 years ago

      I collected stamps when I was in junior high. Long time ago! Congrats for your Lotd! Nice lens.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great information! My son did a little bit of stamp collecting as a child. This great information would have inspired him/us to do more. Congratulations on your very helpful Lens of the Day!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      An interesting lens of the day, by the way my school took me to see the World Cup of hockey in England when I was a kid, the last time it was in the UK, Pakistan won needless to say.

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Great ideas ,congrats on LOTD

    • JohnCumbow profile image

      JohnCumbow 4 years ago

      I've been a stamp collector for over 50 years, though not very actively for the last 15 or so. I used to collect everything, worldwide. Finally narrowed my interest to U.S. airmail stamps, though I am also partial to souvenir sheets.

      Great lens. Very helpful.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      You are a true expert! Congratulations to you on LOTD. Squid Angel blessings to you!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LotD! My brother has a lovely collection. I haven't begun yet but I find it intriguing. Thanks for the tips.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      I was a fanatic collector when I was a kid. My Grandfather started me off by giving me a box of old stamps that he had collected through the years. I haven't looked at these stamps in a long time, but plan to pass them on to my son and start another generation of collectors. BTW - Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      sailor_man 4 years ago

      I am new to squidoo and I learn.

    • Ashly Rain profile image

      Ashly Rain 4 years ago

      Excellent lens! Congrats on LOTD. Your lens was also the perfect addition to my lens about "giving the gift of collecting" (http://www.squidoo.com/help-someone-start-a-collec... Your lens is now listed on the right side where it says "Great Squidoo Lenses About Collecting!"

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      merleannw 4 years ago

      Thank you for the tips . Great lens

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 4 years ago

      I collected postage stamps years ago, and still have them, organized like you...Congrats on the LOTD

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! yes I've collected stamps over 50 years out of habit not a collector, store them in a plastic bag... I have even used them when I needed one ;-(

      very informative and well done lens!

      ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

    • waihou profile image

      waihou 4 years ago

      I keep them in a stamp album. I love my stamps very much. You can view them in my lens.

    • profile image

      tutors091 4 years ago

      Although I have been collecting stamps from a very young age, this lens gave me some really cool tips, like the Stanley Gibbons ready-folded and peelable stamp hinges.

    • profile image

      tudzuniverse 4 years ago

      I collected a few when I was in my teens, I think I might still have them in my treasure box. Not interested right now at this stage. Great Lens! and congrats on LOtD!

    • crbphotography profile image

      crbphotography 4 years ago

      Great lens. I am a topical collector. I have been collecting bridge and bird stamps for about 30 years. I store my stamps in stock books.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 4 years ago

      when i was young, I used to collect, but now not interested.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 4 years ago from USA

      Congratulations, this lens was selected as Lens of the Day today. You can read all about it here: http://hq.squidoo.com/lotd/lens-of-the-day-how-to-...

    • CoffeeWriter LM profile image

      CoffeeWriter LM 4 years ago

      I used to collect them when I was a kid. Still have my collection come to think of it! It's housed in a combination of stampbooks and stockbooks.

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 4 years ago

      I have collected postage stamps since I was a child. I really like this hobby. *blessed*

    • profile image

      MichaelDubrovnik 4 years ago

      No i don't but I love the idea 'coz no one can collect them all which makes it ageless and goes forever :)

    • profile image

      ikepius 4 years ago

      Very interesting read. Collecting postage stamps seems like a very fine hobby.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Excellent thorough lens. I am fascinated by all things postal I am afraid: letters, postcards and stamps. Comes from being a nerd and having a dad who was a postman. :) You have done a great job here - very professionally put together. Pinned, blessed and tweeted.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 4 years ago

      Very important lens for every stamp collector :) Congrats on LOTD

    • Deborah Swain profile image
      Author

      Deborah Swain 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      thank you all for your comments!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      That's pretty cool collection of stamps.. :)

    • Katyusha profile image

      Katyusha 4 years ago

      I have a big collection of stamps (didn`t count them yet, because it is getting larger every day and I do not have enaugh time to organise them all) . Afew since 1890, than all the way from first world war from all over the world. Yesterday I was thinking also about stamp collection lens. I will share some of mine soon. Thank you and congrats!!!

    • profile image

      alexzone2020 4 years ago

      congrats ..

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 4 years ago

      Good tips on organizing your stamps. Congrats on the LOTD.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      congrats for LOTD thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      anismanto 4 years ago

      I'm more used to email. But I still have a small collection of my postage stamps sent by my father when he was away. Not yet archive them, only let them stay on the envelopes. I think I should organize them when I have spare time.

      Nice lens. Selected for the day :)

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 4 years ago from Havre de Grace

      My son has a postage stamp collection that belonged to my Dad and your tips will help get it organized! Congrats on LOTD!