Make Your Own Stamp Album
By D.J. McAdam
Back when I was young, stamp albums were sold in a number of different establishments; stamp shops, of course, but also department stores and places like Woolworth’s, which my parents persisted in calling “five-and-dime” stores long after rising prices made such a term quaint.
The majority of the albums available then were produced by H.E. Harris & Co. Other manufacturers included Scott and Minkus.
The routine of stamp collecting was fairly straightforward at that time. One acquired a stamp – usually used, soaked off of an envelope by the collector or purchased off-paper in a packet of stamps – found the empty spot in the album for the stamp, placed a stamp hinge on the back of the stamp, glued the other part of the hinge to the page, and voila.
There were problems with this methodology from the start, and the problems increased as collectors became more sophisticated and more interested in mint, never hinged stamps. Stamp albums themselves became more expensive and bulkier. Collectors became more specialized or, in some cases, had the audacity simply to collect what they wanted to collect. And, of course, stamp hinges were looked upon as being less-than-ideal ways to mount stamps.
For at least the past ten years, none of this has troubled me. I make my own stamp albums. And I’ve never been happier.
If you want to make your own album, the rest of this brief article will tell you pretty much everything you need to know. The method is simple, straightforward, and reasonable in cost.
Step One – Get Album Pages From the Internet
There are probably a number of places on the Internet that offer album pages that you can print out for a price – honestly, I’ve never looked into it. I found Stamp Albums Web, and stopped there in my research. (We’re not affiliated with Stamp Albums Web, and we’re not getting paid to advertise their site.)
As it says on their website, Stamp Albums Web “is devoted to providing affordable U.S. and foreign stamp album pages that you can print out on your own computer. There are over 200,000 U.S. and foreign pages available, and a complete set of over 6,500 Classic Era pages, with more pages being added all the time.”
Cost? There is a CD-ROM disc available that has all (!) the pages on the website, together with a very user-friendly menu. The price of the CD is $50.00.
The great benefit of having all these pages is that you can collect whatever you want, and, most importantly, you only need to print out an album page when it’s needed.
Of course, the album pages are primarily designed for collecting single postage stamps. If you also collect stamps in other formats, such as plate blocks or blocks of four, you can use Stamp Albums Web’s blank pages.
Step Two – Purchase Quality Paper for Printing Stamp Album Pages
You have a number of options here. Just be sure that the paper that you use is heavy enough. I use Astroparche Natural Card Stock – 8 1/2 x 11 in 65 lb. Cover Vellum 30% Recycled paper. It is sold in packages of 250 sheets. As of this writing, a package costs around $35.
Step Three – Obtain a Quality Hole Puncher
I actually own two hole punchers, but I probably only need one. If you are sure you will only be using three-ring binders, then the Sparco SPR01796 Heavy-Duty Adjustable 9/32″ 3-Hole Punch will do the job well. It costs about $20.
If you do not want to confine yourself to three-ring binders, then consider the Swingline Hole Punch Heavy Duty Hole Puncher, Adjustable, 2-4 Holes, 40 Sheet Punch Capacity, which costs a little over $50.
Step Four – Obtain at Least One Nice Binder
You will probably need more than one binder as your stamp collection grows, so keep that in mind. Also, don’t overstuff your binder. One example of a decent binder is the Samsill Contrast-Stitch Leather 3 Ring Binder, which currently sells for around $20, although at 100-page capacity it may be on the small side for your purposes. Once you add stamps, that 100-page capacity may be cut in half. But don’t worry, there are tons of good choices out there.
Step Five – Purchase Stamp Mounts
If you only collect used stamps, you probably could use stamp hinges. Since I collect mint, never hinged stamps, hinges are out of the question, and instead I use mounts. I haven’t shopped for stamp mounts in a while because I have boxes and boxes of them in different sizes (as may you, some day), and the place where I used to shop has gone out of business. If I were to shop today, I would probably go for the Showgard Clear mounts sold at Amos Advantage. (We’re not affiliated with Amos Advantage, and we’re not getting paid to advertise their site.)
While at Amos Advantage, you might want to part with another $20 and spring for a Stamp Guillotine Mount Cutter (180mm), which makes cutting stamp mounts neatly a very easy process.
As stated, the method outlined above is one that I have used happily for the last decade. You are not bound by it; some people simply put stamps in stockbooks (which I think are also sold at Amos Advantage), and some people just throw things in a box (which I do not recommend). Some people probably still use traditional stamp albums. If you are wondering what a good traditional stamp album might cost, you might want to take a look at what Lighthouse has to offer. (And once again, we’re not affiliated with Lighthouse and we’re not getting paid to advertise their site.)
However you choose to store your stamps, do keep them away from humidity, extreme temperatures, insects, vermin, and the like. Which means, for starters, that you should not keep your stamp collection in the basement or in the garage.
Postage stamps are little bits of history, and you are the guardian of those little bits of history while they remain yours. Be proud of that, and take that responsibility seriously.
Looking for stamps for your collection? Click here to search a wide selection of US and foreign stamps available from Akarius LLC / American Stamp Treasures on Amazon.