stamps

Displaying Stamp Collections and Keeping Them Safe

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In the world of stamp collecting, one has to be aware of how to take care of these small, colorful pieces of adhesive-backed paper. With an average of 10,000 types of stamps coming out each year, stamp collecting is an extremely popular worldwide hobby.

looking at stamps under a magnifying glass

There are several ways to keep one’s stamp collection in good shape. Collections can be framed or placed in boxes or in binders. The environmental conditions are extremely important in keeping the stamps in excellent condition. Stamps need to be kept free from moisture and temperature changes.

Before framing a single stamp, one needs certain materials to protect their quality and visual appearance. Archival-quality materials are the key. Materials such as acid-free mat board, acid-free inks, and conservation-quality frames are all important. Plus, UV glass is meant to protect the color of the stamps from fading. There are so many choices to make in framing one’s stamp collection. You can start by choosing a theme. It could be animals, plants, sports, music, jewelry, important figures in history, famous celebrities, or popular culture. Your theme could be the country of issue, cancellations, or first-day covers. A single stamp could be framed or a whole sheet.

superhero stamps framed with lemon yellow mat

Superhero stamps in Arena moulding with lemon yellow and red mats

If you choose more than one stamp, you might want to sketch out the layout or make models of the stamps’ sizes so you can move them around and see where they look best. All decorative elements, such as hand-lettering, printed text, or hand-drawn or printed designs, should be in place before mounting the stamps. Use a colorful mat board to complement the hues in the stamps you’re displaying or a white mat board for optimal contrast. Stamps’ gumminess can be protected from damage by using stamp mounts, which are plastic sleeves with adhesive backing. A stamp is placed into the mount and then the mount is moistened and adhered to the backing paper.

If you’re storing your collection in a box, make sure it’s made of archival-quality material. To prevent warping, select a box no bigger than a shoe box. Don’t store your box in a hot attic, damp basement, or other location that experiences extremes in temperature and humidity. Storing stamp collections in these areas could cause mold growth and attract insects.

stamp collection

Another excellent tip in protecting one’s stamp collection from deterioration is to make sure you’re using plastic materials that are made from an inert, clear material. Inert means chemically stable. It won’t react with your stamp collection. Vinyl is not safe because it is not inert. Any enclosure made with a vinyl compound will interact with the material it comes in contact with and, over time, will cause damage. According to the National Postal Museum, plastic materials that are inert are labeled “PVC-free,” which means they contain no polyvinyl chlorides and won’t emit hydrochloric acid as they deteriorate. Chemically inert plastics include polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene.

Keeping your prized postage stamp collection in tip-top condition can be accomplished. It’s important to use archival and inert materials, whether framing your stamp collection or keeping it boxed or in plastic sleeves in an album. It’s equally important to remember to keep your stamps away from extreme temperatures and dampness.

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