Chapter 26
Do's and Don'ts of Stamp Collecting

This is a reference chapter. It should be read by people who are currently collecting stamps. The chapter will give you suggestions on making life easier for your eventual heirs. You should read this if you want to spare the beneficiary untold amounts of grief.


DO: Use stamp mounts to put your mint stamps in your albums or use a hingeless album.

DON’T: Use hinges to mount mint stamps in an album. Never, ever, ever, ever! Hinges decrease the value of your stamps. If you must use hinges, use peelable hinges and only on used stamps with a SCV of 20 cents.

DO: Label your stamps with Scott numbers. It makes them so much easier to identify later. Of course, do not write on the stamp. Instead write the Scott number on the album page or put the stamp in a glassine and write the number on the glassine.

DO: Flag the very valuable stamps in your album. Some people put a catalog value beside each stamp. If you do that, also put the year of the catalog you were using. If you can’t stand the thought of writing in the album, you can keep a list somewhere.

DON’T: Knowingly put fake stamps in your album. If you get a sheet of “reproductions” and want to cut them out and paste them in the album, don’t do it. If you just have to do it because it fills another blank space, then at least mark the back “fake” in big letters. If you don’t, someone will pay good money to have it expertized one day, and they will be very disappointed when it comes back as a fake.

DON’T: Split sets of stamps between albums. Hopefully this is not a common occurrence, but let me describe the situation. Two people who lived in the same house collected stamps. Each had her own set of albums, but when they got a new set of 4 stamps, two stamps went in one album, and two stamps went in the other. Yuck! My mother and my aunt did this to me!

What they had done made it impossible to sell either album set as both albums were made of broken sets. Somebody (me) spent months getting the sets back together!

DON’T: Mount stamps all over the edges of a page. If there is no space for a particular stamp, try to put it on a blank page for that country, with the Scott number written next to the stamp. Mounting stamps around the margins of the page makes the album look messy, and it detracts from its overall value. Additionally, pasting stamps close to the edge of the page can cause damage to the stamps.

DO: Number or label your album sets especially when you have more than one album for a country or group of countries. Use a sticky-note inside the front cover. Number the volumes 1, 2, 3.. or A1, A2, A3...B1, B2, B3, etc. It is not always easy to figure out the proper order of the volumes in an album set when they are part of an inheritance..

DO: Try to organize your collection at least a little. If you have shoe boxes full of stuff (and who doesn’t), at least label the boxes. For example, “Mint, never hinged stamps. USA 1990 to 1995,” or “Mostly used USA duplicates from 1940 on,” or “MNH Foreign--Waiting For Album Supplement To Arrive.”

DON’T: Try to save every stamp you ever see. Many collectors only buy stamps, but they never sell stamps! Instead join a stamp club, then try selling some duplicate stamps, or trade them for ones you don’t have already, or give them away to a new collector. It can actually be fun helping someone new build his/her collection.

DO: Buy stamps because you like stamps.

DON’T: Buy stamps as an investment. I read an article recently about a man whose apartment was ransacked, and the burglars stole $10,000 in 1-cent stamp sheets. He’d been saving the sheets for decades with the intent of giving them to his grandchildren, hoping they’d appreciate in value as the children grew. As an investment, the stamps had probably declined in value by 20%. Additionally, the kids would have gotten hernias carrying all of those 1-cent stamp sheets home!

DO: Take the time to fill out the worksheet in chapter 27.