World Stamps

The different options for safely storing a stamp collection: Stamp Collecting Basics

May 3, 2021, 10 PM

By Janet Klug

For those of us who use albums to house our stamp collections, it can be pretty annoying when you have interesting stamps with no designated spaces for them in the albums.

Don’t dump these homeless stamps into a shoebox — it’s important to keep them in good condition now and for the future. 

There might come a time when the albums seem to be taking up enormous amounts of space, as well as constantly requiring new pages for stamps recently released, but the good news is there are ways other than standard albums to keep your collection safe and enjoyable. 

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The website and the display and classified ads (look under “Accessories”) in every issue of Linn’s can help you find stamp albums, pages, stock books, and other storage media for your collection.

If you are current with new stamp issues and you use albums that accept additional pages, you can buy updated supplement pages or use blank pages that fit into the albums you use.

Some easy-to-use preprinted stamp album pages are shown here in the first illustration.

Some collectors choose to make their own albums using nice binders and blank pages.

Also pictured is an album page for Norway stamps created by the collector who owns them. The layout is simple, just tidily arranged stamps hinged on a sheet of blank acid-free paper. 

Of course, you can always add some zip to blank pages, being as imaginative as you wish and making the album uniquely your own. 

There is plenty of space for making notes, arranging stamps in creative ways, or adding covers, large souvenir sheets and other ephemera. 

Several recent Computers and Stamps columns in Linn’s by William F. Sharpe (including his Oct. 21, 2016, and Dec. 19, 2016, columns) discussed making your own album pages or downloading free examples online. 

The American Philatelic Society has free album pages for recently issued United States issues, as well as pages for U.S. states and cities and topical stamp subjects. Find them here.

Philosateleia has about 800 free downloadable album pages for U.S. stamps, and posts new pages four times a year for the latest issues. The website can be found here.

The website helps you to create pages with templates that are easy to navigate, with good instructions.

The American Air Mail Society offers pages for U.S. airmail stamps.

More sources for making pages or downloading them are listed here. Scroll down the web page, and under “Philatelic Book, Reference, Supply and Software” you will find posts about free pages for British Machin issues, Brazil, France, Portugal, and more.

Stock books can be used as albums. There are no printed spaces for stamps, but with their multiple rows of “pockets” on each page, stock books allow the collector to store stamps and move them in and out of the pages without needing hinges or mounts.

Individual stock pages, with a three-hole punch to fit standard binders, are another option.

Some stock books have pages and pockets made of cardstock material, so the bottom half of the inserted stamp is not visible, but others have clear plastic pockets, revealing the stamp designs. 

If you love collecting mint never-hinged stamps, stock books work well, because you would not want to use hinges to store your stamps.

Once a stock book is filled up, just get another one (they are relatively inexpensive) and keep the collection going. The illustration shows an open stock book with clear plastic pockets holding stamps from France. 

Two different storage styles are shown in the photograph. On the left-hand page, the stamps are overlapping in the pockets, and on the right, each stamp is placed individually. 

The latter is the better method, both to showcase the stamps and to keep them flat and undamaged, especially if the stamps still have their gum.

If the stock book lives in a home that experiences conditions of high humidity, the stamps risk being ruined because they can stick together. Therefore, do not overlap mint stamps with gum in stock books. 

In fact, to be more precise, keep the humidity in your home somewhere between 40 and 60 percent. You will be more comfortable — and so will your stamps.

The general rule is, keeping stamps in albums or stock books is best for their continued safety. These holders are certainly preferable to tossing stamps into your desk drawer or jumbling together hundreds of stamps in a cramped shoebox. That is a sure way of ending up with wrinkled, folded, or stuck-together stamps.

If you love your stamp collection, demonstrate this by taking good care of its housing.