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Sunday, 12 August 2018 00:00

Stamp album

Albums are the nearly universal means for keeping stamps, used for both beginners' and world-class collections, and it is common to characterize the size of a collection by its number of albums.

The arrangement of stamps on an album page depends on the taste of the collector and the purpose of the collection. A collection with "one of each" stamp may have rows of stamps packed onto each page, while a specialist's page might have a dozen examples of the same type of stamp, each captioned with a description of printing details or color shades. Traditional page creation was done with pen and ink; in recent years page layout software and computer printers have become popular. AlbumEasy, available free, for both Windows and Linux, is an example of one of the many page layout programs.

Many collectors buy preprinted albums and pages, which are produced by several manufacturers. The gamut ranges from worldwide albums, with only enough spaces for the common stamps and a few more, to one-country albums with spaces for every type of stamp known. The usual format is to print a black-and-white picture of the stamp in each space, reduced in size so that a real stamp will cover it up, and add a thin frame around the stamp. Captions range from minimal mentions of perforation or watermark, up to a paragraph giving a little background on the stamp's subject. Album pages are almost always one-sided; two-sided pages save space, but require interleaving sheets to prevent stamps from catching on each other.

One of the first albums was the Stanley Gibbons “V.R.” published in the early 1870s. This was followed by the “Improved”, and then the illustrated “Imperial” albums. Present-day makers include Lighthouse (Leuchturm), Scott, and White Ace. Once collectors have started using a particular brand, they have a strong incentive to stay with it, and the manufacturers offer annual updates for the stamps issued during the previous year.

In the earliest albums, stamps were stuck down to the pages, using either their own gum (as if put on an envelope), or glue. It soon became clear that separating the stamp and page would likely result in the destruction of one or the other, and stamp hinges were introduced. In the second half of the 20th century more sophisticated methods of storage came into vogue, such as the use of clear plastic sleeves, ensuring that the stamps were not damaged, and that both sides could easily be examined. Albums of this sort are known as "hingeless albums".

Better-quality albums have padded covers, which reduces possible pressure on the stamps exerted by adjacent albums on a shelf. Careful collectors do not cram albums tightly together, so as allow for a bit of air movement through the pages, and to prevent gum oozing or sticking.

Published in Stamp accessories
Sunday, 12 August 2018 00:00

Magnifier

This is an essential part of every stamp collector's tool kit. There are always details of every stamp that can only be seen with a magnifying glass, no matter how good your eyesight is.

Most collectors have several magnifiers for various views.

The basic magnifier is a traveling one that can be taken to stamp shows to examine material from a dealer's offering before you buy the stamp or cover. This can vary in strengths, but one should be in your pocket at all times.

For the home, get a top-quality, color-corrected glass with a power between five and ten. Collectors claim that more than ten power actually shows too much in detail and may be useless in examining stamps. Less than five power simply does not show everything that you will want to see on a stamp.

The easiest way to check if the lens is color-corrected is to examine a black line on a white background. If you see a thin rainbow or any other color or shade besides black at the edge of the black line, then reject that glass.

Some magnifiers have built-in illumination while others are on a stand and leave the hands free to adjust the stamp in various positions. Take a stamp with you when shopping for a magnifying glass. Find the one that you are most comfortable with before buying.

Care must be used in either type. A pointed tip is easier to slide under a stamp, but it can also damage or even slice the item if not used properly. A spade end may push the perforations aside and bend them, as you are trying to get under the stamp.

Every so often plan on sanding the edges of the tongs so that your finger does not feel any sharp hooks. Do not sharpen the edges, only the point of the tongs.

It takes practice to get used to tongs, but they should be used if you plan to keep your stamps a long time. Moisture from your fingers can adhere to the stamps and eventually discolor or even wet the stamp enough to stick to the album page.

Published in Stamp accessories
Sunday, 12 August 2018 00:00

Stamp Tongs

Stamp Tongs are the single MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT A STAMP COLLECTOR WILL EVER BUY. They are cheap, about $4 to $10, and a nice pair will provide a lifetime of usage. Without a good pair of tongs, the handling, examination, and mounting of collectible stamps would be nearly impossible and extremely dangerous.

The reasons for using a good pair are as follows:

First - You MUST NEVER HANDLE STAMPS WITH YOUR HANDS. Your skin contains oils and acids that will destroy a stamp in time. Even an expensive or rare stamp, with finger prints or smudges on the surface from handling, is WORTHLESS. The pair of Showgard #902 Six Inch tongs shown in the picture on this page is actually my "backup" pair! They have never been used. The pair I use all the time has all the bright nickel plated surface WORN OFF on the sides and bottom of the tongs, from pressing against the palm of my hand. If the acid in our hands will remove polished nickel plating, imagine what it will do to a fragile piece of paper, over a long period of time.

Secondly - Never use a pair of eyebrow tweezers or other type of clamping device to handle stamps. They often have serrated edges made for clamping on to something. Stamp tongs have thin, razor sharp edges, specially designed for picking up and holding postage stamps. Using the wrong kind of clamping device could result in a torn perforation, damaged paper edge, or possibly a bend or crease, which would make even an expensive stamp worth very little, if anything.

They come in many types, some as low as about $4. I would recommend the Showgard six inch pair shown on this page. After having used these for many years, I don't think I could ever return to using the smaller pointed or spade types. These are the best, and they don't cost much more than the smaller types of tongs, about $8 to $12. Shop around on the internet. Depending on the seller, prices can fluctuate greatly.

Source: Stamp Colecting World

Published in Stamp accessories
Sunday, 12 August 2018 00:00

Stamp Mounts

Stamp mounts are an alternative to using a stamp hinge to affix stamps to your stamp album. They can provide more protection to your stamp, and can give a professional look to your stamps when displayed in a stamp album.

What Are Stamp Mounts?

A stamp mount is a sleeve that you insert your stamp into. The back of the stamp mount is usually black, and is made up of two flaps. The front is transparent. The sleeve is made of a special plastic to ensure there is little damage to the stamp.

The advantage of a stamp mount over a stamp hinge is that it does not attach to gum at the back of the stamp, which is especially important with mint stamps. Although the better stamp hinges are designed to be peelable, there is always a risk that they may damage the stamp or leave a mark on the back of the stamp. It is this reason why some collectors prefer to use a stamp mount to minimize damage to their stamps, especially if they are valuable or mint never hinged stamps. This helps to preserve the condition and value of the stamps stored this way.

Stamp mounts come in several sizes to accommodate the different stamp sizes. They can come in long strips that can be cut to size easily with a guillotine or scissors.

Using Stamp Mounts

To affix the stamp to the stamp album with a stamp mount there are two methods that can be used. The first way is the top back flap is lightly moistened to activate the gum and is placed in the stamp album. The stamp mount is then gently lifted at the bottom, and the stamp is placed into the mount.

The second way is to lift the flaps of the stamp mount and place the stamp in the mount. The back of the top flap is then lightly moistened, and the mount and stamp are positioned and affixed to the stamp album.

The big disadvantage with stamp mounts over stamp hinges is price. Stamp mounts are more expensive than stamp hinges, but price becomes less important the more valuable the stamp or stamps are to the collector.

Published in Stamp accessories
Sunday, 12 August 2018 00:00

Stamp hinges

Stamp hinges are available at every stamp store or through mail order catalogs.

They were invented years ago so that collectors can affix their stamps to a page and peel it off years later with no damage to the stamp. However, be careful when using hinges so that you wet only the hinge and not the stamp.

This happens when you use a lot of moisture on the hinge. Then you have licked the stamp to the album page. The best way to wet the hinge is to lick the tip of your finger and then touch the finger to the hinge.

This prevents too much wetness on the hinge, but will still be plenty wet to attach the stamp firmly to the page.

Published in Stamp accessories