|Introduction to Stamp Collecting|
Displaying or Storing
By Jim Watson
Albums are a key element of stamp collecting. Albums range from simple notebooks with homemade pages to complex hingeless albums. Preprinted albums have the advantage of organizing the collection, but creativity is constrained by the album designer's approach. There are albums for most countries with pages for all the stamps of the country. Supplements are printed periodically to bring the album up to date. There are also less expensive worldwide albums which provide space only for those stamps that a new collector is most likely to encounter. There are also some very fine, preprinted general albums that are divided by either alphabet or by time period. The complete worldwide general albums are quite expensive. Even the single country albums are not cheap.
Many collectors prefer to make their own albums. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways. First, there are some quality suppliers who provide very nice albums with blank stamp pages and fine binders. After designing the layout of the items to be mounted, the collector then types, prints, or draws any desired legends on the page in a pleasing fashion,
Second, collectors can make albums from scratch. To make an album, select the paper (a stiff archival ledger paper is recommended) and arrange the stamps to be mounted. Write in the text with a pencil or pen, as desired. If you have a printer as well as a computer, you can print some very nice personalized albums. There are some very fine album pages already laid out at StampAlbums Web. These can be downloaded economically. They are especially nice printed on ledger paper (archival quality is suggested). Desktop publishing software or high-end word processing software can also be used to make fine pages. Ordinary 3-ring binders can be used to hold such pages.
One of the decisions that collectors must make is whether or not to hinge* mint stamps. Hinging involves attaching the stamp to the page using a small, gummed glassine rectangle. The hinge permits easy examination of the back of a stamp while still holding it firmly in its place on the page. Quality hinges, when properly applied, can be peeled from the stamp with little likelihood of damage. While hinges involve little problem for used stamps, their use will affect the gum of mint stamps. Careful examination will reveal a mark on the gum of mint stamps. If the hinge is not properly applied or not carefully removed, there is the likelihood of creating a hinge thin on the stamp. Original gum is of major concern to collectors and it can add significant value to an older stamp. Hinging will reduce that value. To avoid the possible disturbance of the gum, many collectors use plastic mounts. There are many varieties from which to choose. All are comparatively expensive when compared to hinges. Hinges, when properly selected and properly used, can be quite satisfactory for most stamps.
Proper use of a hinge starts by folding the hinge across the narrow dimension about one third of the distance from top to bottom. Be sure the gum side of the hinge is on the outside of the folded hinge. Next, using tongs, pick up the hinge and moisten the short end very lightly with your tongue. Too much moisture will soften the gum of a mint stamp and lead to problems. Do not moisten the whole short end. Just a small portion is all that is necessary. Then, apply this moistened short end to the upper back of the stamp, with the fold of the hinge toward the top of the stamp. Then, press the hinge down to complete the attachment of the hinge to the stamp. Next, pick up the stamp from the side with the tongs leaving the long portion of the hinge free. Moisten the bottom end of the free end of the hinge with your tongue and place the stamp in the selected spot in your album. Hinges are not peelable until after they are completely dry. If the hinged stamp is misplaced, it must dry completely before being moved.
One of the suggestions is to use hinges to mount plastic mounts containing the stamps. This facilitates remounting as the collection is reorganized.
* Words in red are defined in the Glossary section - see link under Outline at right.