Stamp Collecting – How To Display Stamps Mounts and Hinges
How best to secure a stamp to a display medium is an ongoing debate. Hinges were used traditionally and many stamps have their value affected – up or down – by the size and nature of the ‘hinge marks’ on them. Mounts have come into common use over the last 30 years.
For decades hinges were used to place stamps into display notebooks or individual papers. Hinges are small, bent pieces of gummed paper that can attach to a page and to a stamp. That secures the stamp with a minimal amount of adhesive, while keeping it safely attached to the page.
Mounts were developed much later, early versions exist from as far back as the 1930s though they are now used much more often. A mount may have a gummed edge in order to attach to a paper, but will provide a sleeve (often made of glassine) for the stamp.
Using a hinge is simple. You wet a narrow strip of the hinge and apply it to the display page. Then wet a narrow strip of the stamp and apply to the hinge. It narrows the area of adhesion. The hinge also allows the stamp to be secured while enabling the collector to view the back in order to see marks made there.
Older stamps will almost always have hinge marks or ‘remnants’, and sometimes this will actually increase their value. There’s no way to explain the evaluations of collectors, sometimes. A mount doesn’t suffer from the problem of adhering the stamp to the hinge, but they nonetheless need to be used with care. Mounts can produce marks or other types of damage.
Glassine, a special paper often used for mount material, isn’t an entirely acid-free paper and can damage the surface of the stamp. Trace amounts of sulfuric acid found in most paper can chemically destroy the cellulose.
For that reason, special archival paper is sometimes used to store and display stamps – not just for the mount sleeve, but the display page as well. Japanese rice paper is one of the more common alternatives, but there are specially made materials, as well.
Inexpensive plastic sleeves are an alternative, but they can ‘glue’ themselves shut over time and adhere to the stamp. That risk makes them a poor choice, usually. Mylar and other forms of plastic don’t tend to suffer from this problem, but at a certain point the cost of plastic displays exceeds the cost of special archival materials.
Once mounted or hinged, most collectors will place stamps on one side of the page only. Though this requires using more pages and binders to display a large collection, the cost is generally justified. The risk of damage, from tearing or surface scratching, is greater with two-sided displays.
Ideally, glass or special sealed plastic envelopes will maintain a stamp in best condition over many decades. But, their cost is prohibitive for all except very valuable, unique items in the collection.
Since collectibles are meant to be displayed, a case for the purpose is a nice addition. But, make sure to keep stamps out of sunlight or away from harsh lamps. The UV radiation in most light sources will cause deterioration of both the ink and paper over time.