There are several ways you can organize your stamp collection, ranging from storing them in a heap in a box or drawer, to having them presented in a wooden case or array of stamp albums. It’s important to therefore understand how best to organize your stamp collection.
6 simple tips to organize your stamp collection are:
- Keep aesthetics in mind
- Remember to care for your stamps
- Focus your stamp collection
- Use every stamp resource you can find
- Separate stamps slowly
- Insure your collection if it’s valuable
You will enjoy your stamp collection more if you give it structure. Even if a high degree of organization is not your thing, you can still improve your collection with a little organization. Below, we give you some tips and advice that will help you organize your stamp collection.
How To Display A Stamp Collection
A key part of organizing your stamp collection is how you keep and display it. The way you choose to display your stamps can reflect your personality and the goals you have for your collection in the future, whether you want to pass it down to a family member or sell it. You have several options.
Books And Binders
One way to organize them is in separate stampbooks or binders, based on the type of stamps you have. In one binder you could have tropical stamps while in another you would only have stamps that were sport themed. A third binder may be a mixture of stamps printed in the USA between 1975 and present day, plus commemorative stamps and their covers.
Another idea is to organize your stamps in picture frames. The lineup you use is entirely up to you. Some people arrange their stamps by theme and then in evenly spaced rows and columns. You could also highlight a few select stamps or have commemorative stamps organized by a professional framer with their cover and a description of the stamp and its meaning.
A third idea is to use a presentation case. The beauty of a presentation case is that it’s very easy to keep your stamps maintained and updated. The downside is that if you have a glass top, you must keep it clean of fingerprints and smudges. Glass will also allow sunlight into the case, which is like poison to stamps.
Topical pertains to the types of stamps you collect. Every issuer of stamps has a slate of topics their stamps have focused on. By separating your stamps into topics, such as commemorative or famous people, you give your stamp collection a degree of organization. Once sorted and separated, you would use one of the display methods to show your collection.
Just like you had several options for displaying your collection, you also have several ways of organizing. These range from organizing how you store them in albums to software that helps you manage your inventory. There are several tips to bear in mind to maximize the effectiveness of your stamp collection and display.
6 Simple Tips To Organize Your Stamp Collection
1. Keep Aesthetics In Mind
How your stamps are presented matters in the sense that you want people to be able to enjoy them, even if they only do when you bring them out of storage. Try to avoid having your display mechanism look too busy or have the stamps dominated by wording. Strive for balance in presentation and attractiveness.
If you decide to use some sort of display case, make sure you factor in lighting. Having to squint to see the details of a stamp will get old very fast. Also, as mentioned above, try to keep the case out of direct sunlight to protect your stamps from light damage.
2. Remember To Care For Your Stamps
No matter how you organize your collection, remember that your stamps will need to be cared for if you want them to stick around for a while. There’s really no point in collecting something only to let it be ravaged by time and carelessness. Things to focus on to ensure your stamps remain in good shape:
- Make sure they are not “over-handled” and that your display is “semi-permanent”
- Pay attention to any stamps in the open and watch out for sunlight
- Make sure the environment the stamps are in isn’t too humid or too dry
- If you use a booklet or album, make sure your stamps are secure but not sealed into position
3. Focus Your Stamp Collection
The possible themes for your stamp collection are virtually limitless. Each collector has their own organization preferences, and this is a chance for you to be creative and display your personality and tastes. Here are just a few suggestions for you to consider:
- By date
- By country
- International stamps
- Famous people
- Event oriented
- Olympics related
If your collection thus far is a mix, take some time to separate your stamps into themes. Do you have a larger percentage of one theme than others? Are there particular themes you find more interesting than others? Questions like these will help you form a basis for you display.
4. Use Every Stamp Resource You Can Find
You can find information about stamps from catalogs, online, postal services, dealers, and other collectors. Commemorative stamps are usually tied to an event, place, or person. Documenting everything will require research on your part and using every source of information you can find.
Even if you do not include a lot of information with your stamps, you will still want to know their history and value, which are the two main reasons most people collect stamps in the first place. You can also use the information you find to dictate the theme you will include the stamp in. With every stamp in your collection, you should know:
- Date of Issue
- Historical background of the stamp’s issuance
- Thematic background
- How many stamps were printed
- Relative value
Any information you discover should be put into a spreadsheet or stamp management software. This will help keep your stamps organized so you can continue to build your collection in the future. You will also learn more about your stamps with research.
5. Separate Stamps Slowly
Take your time when removing a stamp from a full or partial cover. Do not rip it off as that risks damaging the stamp. Soak the stamp in water until it separates from any paper. Dry the stamp by dabbing it gently with a paper towel. Press it to help it dry out evenly. This method will also remove any unwanted gum or signs that the stamp was hinged in its past.
With any of this, the risk you run is that you damage the stamp and reduce its value. Patience is the key when doing anything with stamps. Always remember that rushing a stamp is only asking for trouble. It will not yield a better outcome than if you take your time.
6. Insure Your Collection If It’s Valuable
It makes sense to insure your stamp collection if it has any value at all. If you can walk away from it without feeling any financial loss, you might forego insuring it, but any stamps of value should be covered in case they are stolen, damaged, or just go missing.
As far as a specific threshold, one way of determining if you need insurance for your stamp collection is whether you would replace it if you experienced a total loss. If you would, at retail value, you should insure it. A side benefit to insuring your collection is that it will force you to organize your stamp inventory.
Why Is It Important To Organize Your Stamp Collection?
There are several reasons to organize your stamp collection. The level of importance you put on organization depends on how you regard your stamp collection, how much you want to share it, and whether you may want to sell your collection in the future.
Organization Helps You Understand What You Have
You will never have a complete idea of what your stamp collection contains if your stamps are not organized. You might know generally what you have, but unless everything is researched, categorized and labeled, you will not know for sure. That can have a profound impact on your stamp collection’s value.
Resale Is Impossible Out Of Chaos
Unless you quote bargain basement prices, no collector or dealer is going to pay premium prices for a stamp collection that is not organized. At the very least, you need to present stamps that are valued at close to the asking price. This will help other collectors know the potential value of your collection.
You Don’t Know What You Have
A giant box of unorganized stamps hides the value of the stamp collection from only from buyers, but from you as well. You do not know if you have a valuable stamp underneath the rubble. You may even have an incredibly valuable stamp among your collection, but you will not know that unless you organize the heap of stamps, label them, and keep them in some organized manner.
Impulse Sales Are Impossible
If your stamp collection is not organized, there is no way you can make a quick sale. A quick sale is an impulse based on the stated desire of a collector or dealer to buy one of your stamps, a portion of your collection, or your entire collection. Usually, a short sale is on the table because you have a stamp another collector wants to fulfill their collection.
If your stamps are not inventoried, you cannot do the research to verify you are getting a good price quickly enough. You do not have to understand why the dealer or collector wants to pay a premium for one of your stamps, only that they do and are willing to pay a lot. If you aren’t organized, you may miss the sale opportunity because the collector did not see the stamp amidst all the chaos.
It Looks Better
Appearances are not everything, but with some things, appearances are important. A stamp collection is one of those things. A well organized and inventoried stamp collection looks sharper and is more aesthetically pleasing then a pile of disorganized stamps, or a book of only partially organized stamps.
No one wants to look at a pile of disorganized stamps, or at least not for long. That means you have spent money and time collecting something that only you can appreciate. Even if you are ok with that, it deprives others of seeing what you have collected in any organized manner. That might not matter if the reviewer is a family member, but it might if they are a dealer.
How To Use Stamp Organization Software
Even if you do not want an organized stamp collection that you can present, you should still invest in stamp management and organizational software. The reason is simple: Stamp organizational software will keep track of what you have in your collection.
Stamp organizational software is for collectors, philatelists, hobbyists, and dealers that want to stay on top of their inventory. It lets a user administrate everything associated with a stamp from purchases and sales to inventory, stamp information, pricing, and identification. Additionally, a good stamp software will:
- Capture and store as much information about your stamps as you want
- Manage your inventory and enable you to quickly call up information on specific stamps
- Give you access to a wealth of online resources, including catalogs, pricing guides, and dealers
- Track and document any purchases and sales you make with your stamps
- Provide up to date data on stamp prices
- Generate customizable reports so you can see your inventory in a way that is helpful
Stamp organizational softwareis not for everyone. Some stamp collections are not large or sophisticated enough to warrant software. If, however, the collector is growing their collection beyond a few new stamps a month, or if the collection has valuable stamps, organizational software is a very good idea.
Should You Use Stamp Stock Books?
You can use stamp stock books as an effective way to organize your stamp collection. The strips allow for the storage of postage stamps in pockets. The pouches are large enough to hold several stamps and other stamp collecting materials for easy display and protection.
Another benefit to a stock book is you don’t have to use hinges or mounts. Stamps lie in the pouches and can be seen via the clear covering. This ensures that your stamps are not marred before you have a chance to decide what to do with them. A hinge mark on a valuable stamp, for example, can negative affect the value of that stamp.
You can also sort stamps and store them in stock books even if you do not plan on adding them to your collection. This lets you know the type of stamps you have and in what quantity. That makes it easy, when combined with the stamp management software to, to make a quick sale or to verify the value of your surplus stamps.
So, should you use stock books? The short answer is yes. They provide protection and are a great organizational tool. The only reason not to use them is if you do not have a need for one because you have no excess stamps you want to store. Stock books can be expensive as well, so price may be a factor in your decision.
Should You Use Stamp Hinges Or Mounts?
The question of whether you should use hinges or mounts depends on the stamps in question. Both play an important role in stamp collecting, but both have downsides as well. The driving factor in your decision to use hinges or mounts really comes down to three things:
- Stamp value
- Your stamp collection budget
- If a stamp is extremely valuable
Hinges are a great way to secure stamps to an album. One end of the hinge is moistened to activate an adhesive and it is applied to the gum side of a stamp. The other end is moistened and applied directly to the page of a stamp album. Apart from the connection to the album, another benefit of hinges is that you can lift the paper and examine the backside of the stamp.
Hinges are also very easy to find and do not cost very much. Most hinge packages hold 1,000 stamps, which exceeds the size of the average stamp collection. Hinges are also very thin and light, which helps control the girth of your stamp albums for easy storage.
The main downside to hinges is that because of the strength of the adhesive, it is very difficult to remove stamps from them. If the hinge is does not come off cleanly, it can harm a stamp and devalue it. In the worst case scenarios, a stamp can be destroyed if the removal process pulls through the gum and gouges or rips the stamp.
Mounts are strips of plastic folded to form a pouch. Stamps are put inside the mount and completely covered by plastic. The back side of the mount has an adhesive that is stuck to a stamp album. The transparent side allows for viewing of the stamp, while the adhesive anchors the stamp to the album.
The benefit of hinges is that no adhesive touches the stamp. It is enveloped in the plastic pouch and is protected from every direction. Because no adhesive touches the stamp, it can be removed easily and not damage the stamp, protecting its condition and value.
While stamp mounts protect the stamp and allow for seamless removal from an album, the principal downside to them is that they are comparatively expensive. Another drawback is that to use mounts, you must buy different sizes and, in some cases, trim them to size. If you have a very large stamp collection, using mounts can get very expensive.
Hinges Or Mounts?
For stamps of lesser value, the cost of mounts may be prohibitive. You may even end up putting more into the mounting than the stamp is worth. For stamps of high value, the risk of damage by hinges is too high. From that you have your answer: Use hinges for lower value stamps and mounts for higher value stamps.
The other option is to adhere to the two rules above unless you have stamps that are of extremely high value. You should probably store those stamps separately from any others and in either a stockbook or separate glassine envelopes. You may also want to consider storing the book or envelope in a safe to protect your investment.
Organizing your stamp collection is all about presenting it in the way you want it to look. You can use methods like hinges, mounts and binders, and you can also make use of stamp organization software and stock books to easily keep track of your entire collection.