Stamp Collecting – Storing Your Collection

Once you’ve learned to prepare your stamps by careful soaking or other methods, you’ll want to store them safely and stylishly. There are dozens of different items to choose from. Choices range from simple glassine envelopes placed on stockpages in three-ring binders to dehumidifying cabinets and safes.

For ordinary stamps, a simple shoebox might serve as a container for envelopes. Glassine envelopes are sometimes used to hold the stamps. They’re a translucent paper that’s fine for short-term storage or stamps that don’t have much value.

But even glassine isn’t entirely acid-free. The surfaces can damage the cellulose fibers in stamps and can also trap moisture that warps or rots them, as well. But, they have the advantage of being inexpensive and easy to obtain. They’ll generally be a part of the storage ‘toolkit’ for any collector, even if it’s just to hold stamps during cataloging.

Dealers will often sell stamps in glassine covers, but assuming they turn over their stock in a moderate amount of time these should not have introduced any deterioration. Any that has occurred will usually be visible, making for easy judgments.

More expensive, but higher quality, Japanese rice paper and other archival storage sleeves are preferable. The paper is acid-free and durable enough for mild handling. A special variety called tissue paper (but unlike Kleenex), is used for the most stringent-quality archival needs.

Stockpages are often used to hold the envelopes and sometimes will have in-built glassine or plastic sleeves for holding stamps. They sell most commonly in 8 1/2 x 11 inch sizes, usually 3-hole punched for easy storing in a 3-ring binder. These will work fine for those who want to store stamps that are not on display.

Again, though, the glassine sleeves should be used for shorter time periods or lesser-valued stamps. Plastic sleeves are to be avoided. Unless they are composed of more expensive plastics, they will tend to stick together, potentially damaging the stamps. Moisture control is much more difficult with plastics, and they can produce a coating that harms paper.

Stockcards are available that are typically the 5 x 7 inch index card style. These are useful for smaller sections and are sometimes made of manila cardstock or cardboard.

Stockcards and stockpages often have long strips with 8 to 10 rows, in order to hold dozens of stamps on a page. These are fine for less valuable stamps, but for the more prized possessions in your collection you’ll want something that shows them to better advantage.

Commercial albums are readily available and they vary in quality, usually in line with the variation in price. They have the advantage that once you settle on a manufacturer, you can easily obtain supplement pages of the same type later.

A dehumidifying cabinet or safe might be a worthwhile investment for those rare gems you spent years saving for, tracking down and capturing. For lesser, but still worthy, samples at least invest in a cigar-box wood-and-glass style cabinet in order to show off your ‘pride and joy’ items.

Small wood and glass style cabinets can keep your collection looking good and in great condition with the addition of a couple of silica gel desiccant packages that should be replaced every few months.


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