As everyone in the world of philately can attest, stamps are valuable assets which should be stored correctly. Creating an album is a worthwhile experience, but it’s important to understand whether stamp hinges or stamp mounts are best for your stamp collection.
Stamp mounts are usually better for serious stamp archiving, even though stamp hinges have many benefits, including their cheaper price and ease of use. The main reason stamp mounts are better than stamp hinges is that you can remove the stamp from the mount without damaging it, unlike with hinges.
However, before making a decision on whether to use stamp hinges or stamp mounts in your album, it is important to understand the uses, drawbacks and benefits of each, in order to make a properly informed choice. Read on to learn everything you need to know about stamp hinges and stamp mounts.
What Are Stamp Hinges And Stamp Mounts Used For?
Both stamp hinges and stamp mounts have the same goal and function: to securely store stamps inside an album, in a way that makes them easy to examine and display in an attractive manner.
Although many stamp albums come pre-marked with spaces for specific stamps (for instance, as part of a specified collection), their pages are never designed to hold the stamps themselves. What the collector needs is a way to adhere the stamps to each leaf in the album, and that’s where stamp mounts and stamp hinges come in.
Stamp hinges are one of the two popular choices for adding stamps to an album, having been used as a simple and reliable philatelic tool since the early 20th century. The hinges are small, thin strips of paper, folded partly and coated in gum.
Although popular, there are many disadvantages of using stamp hinges, which should always be taken into consideration before first using them on your collection. But first, we have to learn how stamp hinges work.
How Do Stamp Hinges Work?
Stamp hinges are very easy to use. The folded short edge of the strip is moistened slightly in order to activate its adhesive, and then this side is affixed to the reverse of the stamp. The longer edge is then also moistened, and adhered to the page of the album. That’s it!
Benefits Of Stamp Hinges
Not only are stamp hinges remarkably easy to use, another key benefit of their flap-style adhesion is that they enable the user to lift the stamp from the album to view its reverse, without the need to remove it altogether or damaging its edge perforations. This is particularly useful when examining the watermark of the stamp, or to check its condition.
Stamp hinges are easy to find from all good stamp specialist or hobby stores, and are very reasonably priced. Usually, a package of 1,000 stamp hinges can be purchased for less than $3, and they also come in larger bundles of 3,000 or 5,000. Depending on the quantity of stamps you have, these packs may last a long time indeed!
Stamp hinges are also lightweight, so you don’t run the risk of adding unnecessary bulk to your album, and are subtle enough that they cannot be seen on the page (unless the stamps are lifted). Therefore, stamp hinges are also beneficial for aesthetic purposes, as they don’t detract from the stamps themselves.
Drawbacks Of Stamp Hinges
The main drawback of using stamp hinges for albums is that the adhesive strips actually run the risk of damaging or devaluing the stamp. Unfortunately, this is quite a significant drawback, and definitely a factor which should be fully understood and assessed before you go ahead with using this method.
The best stamp hinges on the market are often considered to be the ones which offer the potential to be easily peeled away from both the stamp and the album after use, leaving the stamp’s original backing gum intact. However, stamp hinges with this “peelable” quality are hard to come by these days, with most brands producing hinges that are much harder to remove.
The issue this causes is stamps with permanent, unremovable hinge marks, or even the tearing of the stamp itself in the aftermath of a removal attempt. When part of a stamp’s layer is stripped away like this it leaves what is known as a “hinge thin”, which is mostly regarded by collectors as being a severe fault in the stamp.
Whether the damage on a stamp is as little as a mark in its gum, or something more severe like a tear to the stamp itself, the value of the piece is affected considerably. So as not to run the risk of reducing your stamp’s worth by up to 90%, it is important to first assess whether you plan on selling your stamp in the future or not. If you do, the use of stamp hinges may not be your best option.
What that being said, many collectors may be completing albums without the intention of selling the stamps individually, or even to sell as a full collection. In this case, stamp hinges may be an attractive option, since the stamps are not likely to ever need to be removed.
A stamp mount is a common alternative to stamp hinges. A lot of collectors consider them to be an evolved version of a hinge as, in many cases, stamp mounts do not have the same drawbacks as hinges do.
However, there are still pros and cons of using stamp mounts, so let’s take a deep dive into what a stamp mount is and how it works, before ultimately deciding on whether hinges or mounts are better.
How Do Stamp Mounts Work?
Stamp mounts provide a professional level of protection for stamps, enveloping the stamps completely in an album to ensure no damage reaches them.
Stamp mounts appear as plastic folded strips, with a transparent film on one side, and a gummed base on the other. Stamps fit into these mounts so the transparent side acts as a window for presentation, and the gummed side works as the adhesive to insert the stamp into the album.
Most often, stamp mounts are split into two halves at the back (on the gummed side), which peels apart to enable easy insertion of the stamp inside that way. However, some brands of mounts have a flap on the front side to fit stamps into.
Once the stamp has been placed inside the mount, and you are happy with the fit (i.e. the stamp should not be bent or have its perforated edges crimping), the mount can be placed into the album. This is done by slightly dampening the gummed edge of the mount, activating its adhesive, and pressing it into place on the album’s page.
Note that, with stamp mounts, the adhesive is only touching the album, and not the stamp itself. Stamps can therefore be easily removed from the mounts without the worry of the adhesive tearing the stamp, as would be the case with stamp hinges.
Many users of stamp mounts also utilize other equipment to help ensure perfection in this method of album compiling. For instance, guillotine-style stamp cutters can be purchased to help neatly cut down mount strips to the appropriate size.
Similarly, a stamp mount scale ruler can help you accurately measure the correct size of mount needed for each individual stamp. It’s not a case of one-size-fits-all if you want your album to look the most professional!
Benefits Of Using Stamp Mounts
Arguably the most significant benefit of using stamp mounts is that, when used properly, they do not damage the stamp whatsoever. As the mount adheres to the album, but not the stamp, there is no risk of adhesive damage to the stamp.
Better still, the fact that the stamps can be easily removed from the mount is a huge benefit, particularly for stamp traders or those looking to sell. Furthermore, the fact that the mount also covers the entire stamp enables it to effectively work as a kind of dust jacket for the stamp, giving it that extra layer of protection within the album.
Choice Of Color
Stamp mounts most commonly come in two different colors: black and clear. Whichever you choose is down to personal preference. Some prefer the black backing as it helps frame the stamp and show the perforations clearly. Others may prefer clear so as to better fit in with the album. Having this choice is definitely a benefit, as it enables the collector to build an album to their personal taste.
Stamp mounts also come in different sizes, so it is possible to buy mounts to fit even your smallest – or largest – stamps. This is helpful when creating an album that looks uniform and neat, which is always desirable.
From this, another factor to mention is that it is possible to buy a long strip mount to use for stamps. This is usually a more cost-effective option than buying individual mounts, and also helpful as they can be easily cut to different sizes, depending on the stamps you have. Alternatively, collectors may choose to inset the strips into their album whole, and line stamps up inside it together.
Drawbacks Of Stamp Mounts
The main drawback of stamp mounts is that they are expensive. At least, they are expensive in comparison to the cheap price of stamp hinges. They come in much smaller packs, usually of between 10 and 100 for a couple of dollars, depending on their size.
Also, the fact that stamp mounts come in so many different sizes could also be considered a drawback, depending on how you look at it. For instance, it is not common for an album to only consist of stamps of equal sizes, meaning that a variety of different mounts need to be purchased.
With the higher price of stamp mounts, it may cost quite a significant amount of money to set yourself up with enough mounts of different sizes in order to mount an entire album.
Some may feel that stamp mounts aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as stamp hinges, which are practically invisible when looking at an album page. Although mounts don’t add too much unnecessary bulk to an album page, their plastic protective coverings could be considered to detract from an album’s pages. However, this is of course down to personal preference, which we will touch on a bit later.
Alternatives To Stamp Hinges And Mounts
When it comes to album-making, there aren’t too many alternatives to stamp hinges and mounts to consider. Of course, it would be unthinkable to simply stick the stamps down with regular glue or tape as, however popular scrapbooking may be as a hobby, it would not be seen as appropriate in the philatelic community to damage stamps in this way.
Perhaps the only real alternative we can suggest is to use stamp stock sheets. These loose-leaf sheets are created especially for collectors to easily store and organize their stamps in a more temporary way, rather than commit them to an album using an adhesive.
Stock sheets are usually made out of either plastic or cardboard. Some sheets are much more durable than others, and some may be more on the flimsy side. Each sheet is punched to fit perfectly into a ring binder or “stock book”, making them relatively cheap.
Whilst stamp stock sheets are most often used as a means of storing duplicate or excess stamps, they do make a simple alternative to traditional albums. Although types of sheets and the way they hold the stamps may differ, their general design involves rows of pockets in which to insert the stamps. No adhesive is used, and stamps are reasonably secure using this method.
Tried And Tested
So, when it comes to compiling albums, there doesn’t seem to be many other alternatives to stamp hinges or mounts. You may argue that the lack of other options simply highlights the fact that both of these methods are tried and tested, having been used in philately for decades without issue. They both do their job, and to great effect, so why hunt for an alternative to two perfectly good options?
Stamp Hinges vs Stamp Mounts: Which Are Better?
The Question Of Cost
Undoubtedly, stamp hinges are much more cost-effective than stamp mounts, just on a per-stamp basis. If we were to take into account the value of the stamp itself, it would be a more complicated argument.
As previously discussed, stamp hinges run the risk of damaging the stamp, thus reducing its value dramatically. Therefore, the stamp would be less likely to sell and, even if it did, it wouldn’t bring in as much money as it might have done had it been in mint condition. Stamp mounts do not have this problem as, if used correctly, they do not damage the stamp at all.
So, if compiling an album full of valuable stamps with the intention of potentially selling the collection at a later date, it will likely work out much more cost-effective in the long run to spend the extra money on the stamp mounts, so as to ensure value is not lost later down the line when it comes to selling.
However, if you are looking for a way to display lower value stamps or stamps you do not intend on selling, it makes sense to opt for the cheaper choice of stamp hinges rather than stamp mounts.
Stamp Hinges vs Stamp Mounts: The Risks
An important argument in the debate between whether hinges or mounts are better for stamps is the matter of damage to the stamp itself.
As we have explored above, stamp hinges pose a big risk to the stamp, with their adhesive gum being practically impossible to remove from the stamp without causing irreversible damage. However, stamp mounts do not carry this concern, as their adhesive only sticks to the album.
Therefore, if stamp preservation were the only factor to be considered in this debate, stamp mounts are clearly the superior option. Using this method allows the stamps to be covered, adhesive-free, and secure but removable in their album. Stamp hinges, unfortunately, offer the opposite.
Of course, creating an album is a personal process. Therefore, it is important for the owner to do what is right for them, rather than assume that a one-size-fits-all approach is preferable.
Some collectors may decide that opting for the cheaper option suits their hobby better, whereas others may decide that the safety of the stamp is more important.
If a collection consists of only lesser-value, more common stamps which will not likely be removed from the album, there may not be a need to invest in mounts. More expensive or rarer stamps, on the other hand, should be protected properly, and not on a hinge.
It is also worth noting that collectors will more than likely have a personal view on the appearance of stamp mounts and hinges.As mentioned previously, stamp mounts are available in a choice of clear or black, but some people may not like the plastic appearance of either. Looking at an album, stamp hinges are practically invisible, which may be preferred.
Stamp collecting, and philately in general, should be a personal experience, and one of its many wonderful attributes is that hobbyists may take from it what they want. Therefore, it is important that individuals don’t feel pressured to go about collecting in a specific way, and ensure that the way they choose to complete their album is right for them.
Stamp mounts are better than stamp hinges for several reasons, with the main one being that you can remove stamps from mounts easily without damaging the stamp. This is usually impossible with stamp hinges, and although they are much cheaper, it makes them a less desirable choice.