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Ideas and Tips for Displaying Your Collectible Stamps

Stamps purchased from The Collectible Stamps Gallery are shipped in either clear archival "PolyPro" sleeves (for larger stamp sheets) or acid-free collection cards (crystal clear film over card stock). Occasionally, we will ship very large items in acid-free glassine envelopes.  Each of the above are perfectly suitable for long-term safe storage. Like most collectors, however, you may wish to attractively display your stamps.  We discuss below many display ideas and considerations.  Many of the mentioned display supplies are available from us at attractive prices; where this is the case, the item is highlighted and underlined when first described.  You can navigate to the appropriate supply category page by clicking on the highlighted word (links to our supply categories are also located near the bottom of the left-hand navigation bar).

The following "main topic" links can be used to quickly navigate to that topic in the discussion below:

Safely handling and storing your stamps.

Postage stamps, being fairly thin paper, can be torn, creased, or stained if not carefully handled.  Stamps can be handled with your hands or fingers (carefully), but it is best if you first wash your hands (to remove dirt and natural oils) and make sure they are dry.  Stamp collectors often use stamp tongs to handle stamps whenever possible to reduce the risk of damage.  Stamp tongs have polished rounded tips and are specially designed for picking up and holding postage stamps.  Using tongs to handle stamps may be an awkward process at first, but you will likely soon find that moving stamps around with tongs is much easier than with your fingers.  Standard tweezers with sharp and/or ridged tips should not be used because they can crease or cut fragile stamp paper.

Stamps, and albums holding stamps, should be stored in an environment where humidity and temperature are kept at reasonable and fairly constant levels.  High heat and humidity can cause the adhesive on the back of stamps to stick to whatever is adjacent.  For this reason, attics, crawl spaces, and storage buildings without climate control are not good places for storing your stamp collection.

High pressure can also cause stamps to stick to album pages or other adjacent paper.  This situation can arise when your stamps or albums are placed long-term under a stack of heavy books, for example. It is best to store your albums or stock pages containing stamps upright.

Lastly, stamps should be kept out of direct sunlight; sunlight will eventually cause a noticeable fading of the colors on stamps.  If you plan to frame your stamps, it is best to use glass that provides protection from ultraviolet (UV) light.

Display Ideas

Stamp Display Pages ("Stockpages")

Stockpages are excellent for both safely storing and attractively displaying your collection.  The "Black" stockpages offered by The Collectible Stamps Gallery are rigid with a black vinyl background and crystal clear pockets on both sides (they are free of chemical softeners, so your stamps will be safe). These double-sided pages are 8.5" x 11" and hole-punched to fit standard 3-ring or European 4-ring binders.  The clear pockets hold stamps firmly in place, yet the stamps can be moved easily from one location to another as your collection grows and evolves.  The pages are available with one through eight rows of pockets (sizes 1 through 8); fewer rows equals larger pocket height.  The "All Clear" stockpages we offer are from the same manufacturer and are of the same construction as the black pages except they have pockets on only one side and, of course, have a clear rather than black background.  The exact pocket measurements are indicated in the Display Pages product descriptions.  Note that we list the measurements of the stamps and souvenir sheets offered on our site- you can simply match the stamp/sheet measurement with the pocket measurement, but keep in mind that it would be best to choose pocket sizes a bit larger than the stamps so that they will be fully protected (if your stamps extend above the height of the pocket, you can provide added protection by simply placing a sheet of acid-free paper between adjacent stockpages).

While we do offer very nice binders for these pages (our item #SUP3; Nassau binder), any 3-ring or 4-ring binder designed for 8.5" x 11" pages should work just fine.  The "Nassau" binder we offer is constructed with deep-grained imitation leather, has gold-embossed spine features, and comes with a matching dustcase.  The "Nassau" holds 8.5" x 11" 3-hole-punched pages (approximately 40-45 stockpage capacity, depending on stockpage contents).

An alternative to these specialized stockpages, especially for larger items, is to simply insert the stamps/sheets into archival clear sheet protectors; these are relatively inexpensive and available at office supply stores (Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, etc.).  It would be best to first insert a sheet of heavy-weight paper or card stock into the sleeve to provide added stiffness and protection.

 

Stockbooks

The stockbooks we carry are hard-covered albums with pages made of extra-heavy black card stock.  The pages have 9 clear strips per side for tightly holding inserted stamps in place.  Glassine interleave sheets between the card-stock pages prevents stamps on facing pages from interacting with each other.  The pockets in these stockbooks hold stamps in place a bit more tightly than do the stockpage pockets. Inserted stamps/sheets that are taller than the pockets, which is the usual case, are securely held in place (and protected by the glassine interleaves). A very good option for topical stamp collections.

 

Souvenir sheet and small stamp pane albums

"Collector Series" albums have been specially designed for larger stamp collectibles (though all items that would fit in these albums would also fit in stockpages with large pockets as described above).  The albums feature both attractive Collector Series binders (our item# SUP5) with a padded vinyl covering and Collector Series pages (our item#'s SUP2R1N10 and SUP2R2N10) constructed of museum quality archival PolyPro film.  For the display of souvenir sheets and larger stamp collectibles, you may find these pages to be more economical than stockpages.  Smaller stamps would likely move around quite a bit in these page pockets, but they could be left in glassine envelopes or collection cards and inserted into the pockets.  The 87/8" x 9" pages are 15 mil thick (thinner and much less rigid stockpages) with jet-black backgrounds and are double-sided (pockets on both sides).  A vertical seam protects stamps/sheets/envelopes from drifting into the binder rings.  We currently offer pages with either two pockets per side (each pocket measures 108mm tall by 183mm wide) or one pocket per side (each pocket measures 223mm tall by 190mm wide).  The pages do require a special "Collector Series" binder (10" x 91/2" x 21/4"), though it is an attractive padded and gold-stamped binder that holds up to 50 two-sided pages.  Available binder colors are blue, charcoal grey, and wine-red.

 

Photo albums

Photo albums with pocket-type pages would work just fine for displaying souvenir sheets, though you are limited by the available pocket sizes.  Be careful with those photo album pages that are coated with a tacky substance that prevents photos from moving- this will eventually stick tightly, even permanently, to stamps.  Although we have not tried the following for long-term storage, placing a sheet of card stock (slightly larger than the stamps / stamp sheet) between the stamps and the tacky substance- with the clear plastic overlay keeping the stamps in place- may work well.

 

Homemade stamp album pages

Many collectors design their own stamp collection pages.  These pages can be hand-drawn/written, or designed with a computer software program (Adobe PageMaker, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, etc.).  You will want to use acid-free paper so that the pages do not eventually discolor- the chemical change that causes this can affect stamps as well.  Except for cheaper quality papers (such as cheap copy paper and newsprint paper), most papers manufactured today are acid-free.  Heavy weight paper will yield a nicer and more durable album page: examples are Wausau Premium Card Stock (65 lb.), Wausau Exact Bristol (67 lb.), and Wausau Exact Index (110 lb.).  These and similar good quality papers are available in a variety of colors at office supply stores (such as Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples).

Your album pages can either be hole-punched or inserted into clear sheet protectors (with 3-ring holes in the margin); add a nice binder and you are all set.

Attractive and high quality papers can also be found at scrapbooking stores and many general craft stores.  In fact, a scrapbooking album would serve well as an album for displaying your stamp collectibles (perhaps together with your other paper collectibles or artwork).

 

Mounting Postage Stamps

For the mounting stamps and stamp sheets, we offer crystal clear archival mounting corners (nice for souvenir sheets and other stamp sheets or stamped envelopes), crystal clear stamp mounts (perfect for mounting individual stamps and all but very large stamp sheets; not for envelopes), and stamp hinges (for individual stamps or smaller stamp sheets). 

The mounting corners we offer have a permanent self-stick acrylic (archival) adhesive on the back and a triangular pocket for insertion of a stamp sheet corner (you will need one for each corner). 

Stamp mounts are available from philately suppliers in a large variety of types and sizes.  The Collectible Stamps Gallery supplies both black-backed and all clear mounts from the manufacturers Hawid and Prinz.  Stamp mounts are easy to use and they protect your stamps. (click on the "Stamp mounts" link above for a description of the different types available).  All mounts are pre-gummed (moisture-activated adhesive) on the entire back.  Some mounts are supplied pre-cut (e.g., for standard-sized horizontal or vertical U.S. commemorative stamps), but most are supplied in strips that are intended to be cut to a desired width.  Using either a paper cutter (guillotine-type cutters work best) or a straight edge and razor blade (or Exacto-type knife), the mounts can be trimmed to the desired width.  Scissors can also be used for trimming, but you might find it difficult to obtain a perfectly straight edge.  Stamp mounts are a good option when mounting corners are not acceptable (e.g., for individual stamps, for framing projects, or for appearance reasons) and you would like to keep your mint stamps or stamp sheets with pristine gum in unhinged (see below) condition.  

Note that the back side of Hawid brand mounts and the inserted stamp/stamp sheet will lie flat against the page, while the top side of the mount may not lie completely flat against the stamp or stamp sheet.  Despite the very slightly raised top side, stamps will be held securely in place- they should not shift around during normal album handling or page turning.  An advantage of Hawid mounts is that stamp insertion and removal is very easy.  An additional advantage of Hawid mounts is that the tops, as well as the sides, can be trimmed to the desired dimensions (Prinz mounts are not to be trimmed at the top); this means that a single mount size can be trimmed to fit stamps of varying heights (the height of the original mount and lesser heights)- fewer mount packages need be purchased to accommodate your stamp sizes.

Prinz mounts are identical to Scott brand mounts (exact same product; different packaging) and nearly identical to Showgard brand mounts.  They tend to hold stamps a bit more firmly in place than do Hawid mounts, and the top side of the mount lies flat.  To aid in the insertion and removal of stamps, these mounts are slit (open) along the center of the back.  When the back is wetted to activate the adhesive, it is important to wet only the top half or the bottom half (but not both) of the back, and to be careful not to wet the back too close to the slit (which could cause moisture to reach the inserted stamp). 

For some applications with Hawid brand mounts, you may want the top side of the mount to lie completely flat (like the Prinz mounts); to accomplish this, we offer a fine-tipped glue pen (archival quality adhesive; similar glue pens may be found at craft stores).  Using a straight edge, a fine line of glue may be applied to the mount above the top of the stamp(s), so that it is located between the two mount halves.  The top side of the mount is then pressed against this line of adhesive.  Although it will not be as easy, the stamp/stamp sheet can still be removed, and re-inserted, via the open sides of the mount.  Additional lines of glue on the sides of the mount will completely secure the stamp within the mount (this may be desired for framed stamps, for example) but be sure to leave a couple gaps in these glue lines to prevent the trapping of condensation.

Stamp hinges are small pieces of pre-folded glassine paper with a water-activated adhesive on one side.  One part of the fold is lightly moistened (with tongue or damp sponge), then adhered to the stamp; the other part of the fold is similarly moistened and adhered to the album page.  Larger items (e.g., souvenir sheets) may require 2 or more hinges (mounting corners are recommended for large items).  Supposedly, stamp hinges are peelable, meaning that, after the adhesive has dried, they can be peeled off of the stamp without damaging the stamp paper.  This is rarely true in practice so be very careful if you wish to remove a hinge from a mint stamp; the best option may be to leave it attached to the back of the stamp, trimming off the non-adhered portion.

If disturbing the gum on the back of mint stamps is not a concern and you do not care that a stamp cannot be removed from the paper to which it is attached (perhaps the case for framing, scrapbooking, or other art project), you can of course lightly moisten the back of the stamp (or simply peel and stick self-adhesive stamps)  and use the stamp's own adhesive for mounting. 

 

Framing postage stamps

Being miniature works of art, stamps and stamp sheets that are matted and framed can look great hanging on a wall.  Framing projects may involve a single stamp in a miniature frame (a nice small scale building or doll house idea), a large selection of stamps, or stamps together with collateral memorabilia or artwork.  Any of the postage stamp mounting techniques mentioned above could be applied for stably mounting the stamps, though the use of clear stamp mounts is a popular method for mint stamps. 

The easiest approach to framing stamps, though likely also the most expensive, is to mount your stamps and collateral material with a pleasing arrangement on heavy-weight paper or card stock and to then have a professional framer complete the matting and framing work.  Whether you decide to take this route, or to do all of the work yourself, a visit to the website Framing4yourself.com would be beneficial (link provided below).  This is the best framing web site we have come across; it is loaded with tips and instructional guides.

Framing4yourself.com