Mint Condition: How to Take Care of Your Stamp Collection
Used every day around the world to send letters and parcels, the humble stamp is also the quintessential collector’s item. Appreciated for the incredible art found on them as well as their historical value, philately is a hobby which will never go out of style.
One major issue of collecting stamps, however, is keeping your collection in the best possible condition. After all, a stamp is essentially a small piece of paper with an adhesive backing, which naturally makes them incredibly fragile and one of the most challenging collectibles to keep in mint condition. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to massively decrease the chance of your collection being damaged.
How do I keep my stamp collection in mint condition?
Keep them high up
Storing your stamp collection in a high place rather than in a box on the floor has a couple of benefits. Firstly, it dramatically reduces the chance of water damage, which is an extremely common way for collections to be destroyed in an instant. If you live in an area which could potentially flood, storing your collection on a high shelf should mean that it won’t be hit if you are unfortunate enough to be flooded. It also reduces the risk of burst pipes damaging your collection.
Alongside reducing the risk of water damage, storing your stamp collection in a high place also means children who don’t understand the value of your collection won’t be able to start browsing it.
Store your stamps in a dark, dry space
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily take something as dramatic as a flood or a burst pipe for water to ruin your collection, the moisture already present in the air could also do the job, albeit at a much slower pace. When choosing which room to store your collection in, you should ensure that it’s a dry room which doesn’t get much condensation throughout the year. Over time, the moisture in the air would degrade the quality of your stamps, leading to discolouration and potentially mould.
As well as the room being dry, you should also ensure that your chosen storage space is dark, or that your stamps are not out in the open and protected from natural sunlight. UV rays in the sun will break down the ink in your stamps dramatically decreasing their quality.
Get some stamp tweezers
No matter how delicately you handle your stamps, the natural oils in your hand will slightly degrade the quality every time. There is also a chance the stamps accidentally stick to you or you accidentally creasing them or damaging them in some other way. The easy way to negate this risk? Stamp tweezers.
Stamp tweezers such as these (external link) come in a range of shapes specifically made for safely handling stamps of all shapes and sizes and can be picked up for as little as £2.25, so there’s really no reason to not purchase a pair.
Use acid-free paper
When putting your album together, it is vital that you use acid-free paper. Traditional paper which has not had its lignin removed degrades over time, leading to it turning yellow and becoming extremely brittle, which is obviously no good for your collection. The acids in traditional paper will also affect any stamps mounted on the paper, degrading them in a similar way to the paper itself.
Most paper today is acid-free, meaning that it won’t be difficult to find, but it is still important that you double-check before mounting your stamps.
Don’t use stamp hinges
Stamp hinges are simply a small piece of gummed transparent paper used to affix your stamps to your album, and are typically the go-to method of keeping stamps firmly affixed to your album. They’re easy to use, nice and cheap, and keep your stamps intact, which naturally makes them a firm favourite with collectors everywhere.
One problem with stamp hinges, however, is the fact that using them will slightly damage the reverse of your stamps, no matter how careful you are. The simplest way to solve this is to use plastic stamp mounts.
Plastic stamp mounts are small pieces of plastic with an adhesive back. The mount is affixed to your album with your stamp sliding into the mount like a picture into a picture frame, meaning damage to the gum of your stamps is a thing of the past. Although you will need to have a range of mounts to fit different stamp sizes, they’re cheap and easy to get hold of and are the best way to keep your stamps safe in their album.
Do you have any tips on keeping your stamp collection in mint condition we should know about? Tweet us (external link) and let us know.