I am a blogger and an avid and experienced collector of postage stamps.
Avid stamp collectors who start during childhood will remember their first stamp album and the pride they felt slowly filling the book and watching their fledgling collection grow. Besides a pair of tweezers and magnifying glass, a stamp album is an essential part of the philatelist's kit. It is a place to show off your latest finds and most prized stamps, and also a way of keeping your collection organized and safe from damp, dust, and sunlight, which can all be damaging to stamps.
Choosing the best stamp album for your needs, however, is not always simple. It can depend very much on the size of your collection, the age of your stamps, and your specific field of interest. There are also stamp albums that are more suitable for beginner stamp collectors and children.
This article 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!
Using archival grade "alkaline buffered" or "archival quality" paper to neutralize acidity can prevent long term damage to your stamps. It is more expensive, but if you want your collection to last a lifetime in flawless condition, this is the way to go.
Preprinted Country-Specific Stamp Albums
Some countries rely on the production of limited runs of decorative stamps aimed almost exclusively at stamp collectors. Most preprinted stamp albums today are country-specific (like this one), and include countries with long postal histories that require several volumes such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
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 most are also designed with room for all variations of stamps as well as souvenir sheets and any special issues.
Preprinted, country-specific albums are a good choice for completionist collectors who want to own every stamp from a given collection, date range, etc, and display them in a neat and organized way.
Here You Can See a Sample of a Vintage Stamp Album With Preprinted Pages
Loose Leaf Stamp Albums
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 hand-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 new pieces to my collection in an organized way. Loose leaf albums are usually either simple ring binders that snap open or screw binders. The choice is a matter of personal preference.
These are a good option for the casual collector who may wish to add to the collection or reorganize it periodically.
When and Why I Use Stockbooks
As an adult, I have been more focused 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 loosely used stamps in different thematic groups.
A Wonderful U.S. Collection Preserved in Several Types of Albums
Using Stamp Hinges
Collectors have traditionally used stamp hinges made from lightly gummed transparent paper to mount stamps on album pages. Stamp hinges are designed to be peelable, but I have often seen older stamps with the remnants of old hinges permanently stuck on the reverse. For this reason, hinges are usually used on postally used stamps while mounts are used to protect mint gummed stamps from damage.
Many years ago stamp collectors didn't have the sophisticated archive-safe materials we have today and hinges were the norm. However, today, "never hinged" is often seen as a prerequisite for purchasing high-value stamps. For starter collections, low-value collections, used stamps, and stamps which have been hinged in the past, traditional hinges are just fine (Stanley Gibbons hinges are my favorite). But remember to never use them on mint or high value "never hinged" stamps!
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.
Do you collect postage stamps? How do you organize your collection?
Cheryl on December 17, 2019:
Thank you for your expertise. I’m a new collector. I want to collect sheets of stamps rather than single stamps. I just cannot figure out what type mount to get. I understand that you can cut the mounts, that come in strips, to size, but how does this work for storing sheets in stock books? Thanks for any help that you can offer
Jerry on June 15, 2019:
I belong to the ATA and am looking for a way to mount my collection. Do it by country or by date they were issued. I am looking for a good way to showcase my subject.
Mavi on April 29, 2019:
I'm looking for information on how to cover my stamp collection by pages do I buy plastic sleeves to insert my pages or paper that look like parchment paper
Michael on April 12, 2019:
I've got of all different era's and many different categories. My problem is try to figure out how to be categorized together.
Jerry Sigoloff on June 07, 2017:
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.
anonymous on November 11, 2012:
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...
kayla_harris on October 16, 2012:
Yeah, I like collecting postage stamps very much!
hilman48 on October 15, 2012:
as a child, I also like to collect stamps.
This lens reminds me of my childhood
DebMartin on October 12, 2012:
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 on October 11, 2012:
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 on October 11, 2012:
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!!!
RinchenChodron on October 11, 2012:
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
Fay Favored from USA on October 10, 2012:
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.
anonymous on October 10, 2012:
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!
Jemecan on October 10, 2012:
Used to when i was a kid.
Isabellas-cabin on October 10, 2012:
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 from California on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
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.*****
Bill from Gold Coast, Australia on October 10, 2012:
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!
SteveKaye on October 10, 2012:
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.
nicey on October 10, 2012:
I will love to start the hobby of collecting stamps. Your lens has encouraged me,
WriterJanis2 on October 10, 2012:
Used to collect stamps. Wish I had continued. Congrats on LOTD and blessed.
Deborah Swain (author) from Rome, Italy on October 10, 2012:
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"...)
enetwal on October 10, 2012:
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.
SkiLoverAlpine on October 10, 2012:
Yeah, the black stamp mounts really make a difference in the look of your collection.
octopen on October 10, 2012:
I started collecting stamps since I was 12 and have never stopped. Found some real gems too...
ChristmasIdeaShop on October 10, 2012:
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 J Moghal from Ontario Canada on October 10, 2012:
You remind me my childhood hobby. I used to collect stamps in childhood. Still hav that collection somewhere in the storage.
Lee Hansen from Vermont on October 10, 2012:
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.
lewisgirl on October 10, 2012:
I collected stamps when I was in junior high. Long time ago! Congrats for your Lotd! Nice lens.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on October 10, 2012:
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!
Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on October 10, 2012:
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.
Nnadi bonaventure Chima from Johanesburg on October 10, 2012:
Great ideas ,congrats on LOTD
JohnCumbow on October 10, 2012:
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 from Shanghai, China on October 10, 2012:
You are a true expert! Congratulations to you on LOTD. Squid Angel blessings to you!
Rosaquid on October 10, 2012:
Congratulations on LotD! My brother has a lovely collection. I haven't begun yet but I find it intriguing. Thanks for the tips.
Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on October 10, 2012:
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!
sailor_man on October 10, 2012:
I am new to squidoo and I learn.
Ashly Rain on October 10, 2012:
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!"
merleannw on October 10, 2012:
Thank you for the tips . Great lens
poldepc lm on October 10, 2012:
I collected postage stamps years ago, and still have them, organized like you...Congrats on the LOTD
Delia on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
I keep them in a stamp album. I love my stamps very much. You can view them in my lens.
tutors091 on October 10, 2012:
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.
tudzuniverse on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
when i was young, I used to collect, but now not interested.
Robin S from USA on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
I have collected postage stamps since I was a child. I really like this hobby. *blessed*
MichaelDubrovnik on October 10, 2012:
No i don't but I love the idea 'coz no one can collect them all which makes it ageless and goes forever :)
ikepius on October 10, 2012:
Very interesting read. Collecting postage stamps seems like a very fine hobby.
Rose Jones on October 10, 2012:
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 on October 10, 2012:
Very important lens for every stamp collector :) Congrats on LOTD
Deborah Swain (author) from Rome, Italy on October 10, 2012:
thank you all for your comments!
anonymous on October 10, 2012:
That's pretty cool collection of stamps.. :)
Katyusha on October 09, 2012:
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!!!
alexzone2020 on October 09, 2012:
NightMagic on October 09, 2012:
Good tips on organizing your stamps. Congrats on the LOTD.
anonymous on October 09, 2012:
congrats for LOTD thanks for sharing
anismanto on October 09, 2012:
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 from Havre de Grace on October 09, 2012:
My son has a postage stamp collection that belonged to my Dad and your tips will help get it organized! Congrats on LOTD!