US Stamps

Fall, winter months are an excellent time to spend organizing your stamp collection

May 1, 2021, 3 PM

As I write, we are on the cusp of October here in west-central Ohio.

Temperatures are beginning to drop, and the leaves are shedding their green palette in favor of oranges, reds and yellows.

Perhaps you’ve been too busy during the hectic months of summer to devote much time to philatelic pursuits.

Not to worry: With the prospect of colder weather comes ample opportunity to reacquaint yourself with your stamp collection.

An excellent place to start is with the various stamps, covers and other items that you’ve accumulated but haven’t found a home for.

Perhaps you received a batch of stamps from a hobby friend. After thanking your friend, you set the stamps aside and promptly forgot about them. There they sit before you — a jumbled assortment in need of organizing. The longer they remain that way, the more likely an unfortunate accident will occur.

If you aren’t quite ready to mount them in an album, try arranging them by country (in alphabetical order, of course) and placing them in a stock book.

Though not ready for display and subsequent enjoyment, the stamps are now safely stored.

For inventory purposes, you might consider noting the Scott catalog number and associated value.

Keeping track of such information is easily accomplished using a spreadsheet software program.

Remember that a stock book is not a long-term solution. At some point, you need to get those stamps into an album.

Some collectors prefer to use hinges, while others gravitate to album mounts.

In general, hinges are good for used stamps and stamps that have been previously hinged.

Though more expensive, consider using mounts for never-hinged stamps and stamps with a catalog value above a certain threshold.

Whichever method you choose, exercise care. It is easier than you might think to damage a stamp when applying a hinge or when inserting the stamp into a mount.

And what about that pile of covers that you’ve been meaning to go through?

My approach involves separating the postal history wheat from the chaff.

Covers that I intend to keep intact go into one pile, and covers that will be cut down for their stamps (United States issues, in most cases) go into a second pile.

The stamps clipped from the sacrificed covers are then set aside for subsequent mailing to a couple of friends overseas who collect used U.S. stamps.

Better intact covers are housed in albums or protective sleeves, and the rest are stored in a file cabinet based on the franking.

For example, a cover bearing a $5 Washington and Jackson stamp (Scott 2592) is placed in a folder with other similarly franked covers.

Don’t forget to take a look at your reference library. Perhaps it’s time to replace an older catalog with a current edition.

If you are in need of a Scott catalog or collecting supplies, stop by the website, or call 800-572-6885.

One more thing to keep in mind: The better organized a collection, the more it likely will bring when the time comes to sell.

Finally, don’t forget that your stamps will most likely outlive you.

Years down the road, those responsible for the disposition of your collection will appreciate the effort you made to keep your collection in order.