How to Organize a Large Stamp Collection

Written by graham rix
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How to Organize a Large Stamp Collection
This collector of British stamps has made poor use of the page, with too much blank space on one side. (post stamps image by Svetlana Kashkina from Fotolia.com)

In the 1940s you could still squeeze every stamp in the history of philately into a single -- although admittedly, mammoth-sized -- album. With some 15,000 issues every year by the 1980s, the explosion in stamp production after World War II meant that this was no longer feasible. Half the fun of modern stamp collecting is in bringing a personal sense of order to an ever-expanding subject.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Loose-leaf stamp album
  • Hinges
  • Tweezers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Purchase one or more loose-leaf stamp albums. The albums of old were of the fixed-leaf variety, but most modern collectors like to add, subtract and move around pages as their collection grows. Loose-leaf albums have either a multi-ring or spring-back format. The first is like an office ring-binder, while the second has a powerful spring spine that clenches the pages. Loose-leaf albums retail for about £13 and, along with the paper for them, are available from any online philatelic accessories store, with Stanley Gibbons being the brand of choice.

  2. 2

    Select an organising theme. Geography is the one most people opt for. You might like to dedicate one album to the U.S. and its dependencies and another to the rest of the world divided into Europe, Asia, and so on. On the other hand, you could be entirely different and create an album focused on a certain period -- World War II, for instance, or the 1960s -- or one that celebrates an individual, such as President Kennedy or gathers together stamps relating to a subject such as cinema or sport.

  3. 3

    Be original when arranging the stamps for display. Using tweezers, experiment with different layouts before committing yourself to mounting the stamps on the page. Don't overcrowd the page, avoid boring parallel rows, and group stamps together in such a way that they offer a commentary on each other.

  4. 4

    Mount the stamps using little sticky strips of paper called hinges. Should you like to keep your collection utterly pristine, you can purchase individual card-backed, glassine-fronted mounts known as Hawid strips. Again, philatelic accessories stores supply these items.

Tips and warnings

  • If all this sounds a little tricky, you can always arrange your collection in a series of stockbooks. With glassine strips and guards, these are a cheap and flexible way of organising a large stamp collection.
  • Shelve your albums in an upright position, because horizontal stacking presses the stamps against their hinges.

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