Philately is a popular activity, and for some collectors it can involve significant amounts of money being invested in rare stamps. In order to make the best possible display out of a collection of stamps, there are a variety of ways to display them properly. An understanding of the types of consumable supplies designed show off the stamps to best advantage can get any new collection off to a good start.
For those collectors who plan on investing significant amounts of money in rare stamps, there is also a wide range of specialty equipment available that is designed to help them determine whether a particular stamp is genuine or forged. Supplies that allow a collector to distinguish more valuable versions of a particular stamp are also available. Platforms such as eBay are useful places for an informed enthusiast or professional collector to find quality consumables and specialised equipment. When considering stamp collecting supplies, an online platform such as eBay is also good place to find a wide choice of sellers of products to meet every need.
Hinges vs. Mounts
The first decision a stamp collector often faces is the best method to display individual stamps. The two most common ways of doing this are to use 1) hinges, or 2) mounts. The pros and cons of these two methods have long been a discussion point amongst philatelists.
A stamp hinge is a small, oblong shaped piece of paper, usually less than 1 cm square. It is made from a fine type of paper known as glassine. Glassine is transparent, which is useful when a collector wants to inspect the gum on the back of a stamp. A glassine hinge allows the quality of gum on the reverse of stamp to be seen. The hinge is folded, and has a mild glue applied to one side. The glued side can be used to mount a stamp on a page in a stamp album. Stamps mounted in such a way can be moved and repositioned easily, simply by removing the hinge and applying a new one.
Unlike their older equivalents, modern hinges are coated with mild, alkaline glues that are less likely to leave a mark when the hinge is removed. However mild the glue on a hinge may be, it always has some moisture content. Consequently, applying a hinge to a stamp can affect the condition and quality of the stamp, since that moisture can affect the gum. Any contamination of the gum on the rear of a stamp can devalue it.
Some stamps graded as "never hinged" achieve higher values. Therefore, alternative methods of displaying can be used for these specimens.
Ease of use
Mild glue can discolour
Moisture can affect gum
Marks left when removed
No glue contact with stamp
360 degree view of stamp
Stamp mounts are strips of plastic that have an opening at one end to create a small pocket. Stamps are placed inside the mount, and the mount is then stuck to the page of the album. The main benefit of a mount is that no glued surface comes into contact with the stamp. Stamp mounts are available in two formats, either completely transparent, or with a black backing sheet. Transparent mounts are useful when a collector wishes to mount a stamp so that the rear side can be inspected for marks and gum quality without the stamp being touched. Mounts with a black backing are effective when a collector wishes to display a stamp and highlight its design and colours.
Displaying a Stamp Collection
There are a number of ways to display a collection of stamps. A beginner or hobby collector with a varied collection of stamps may find a plain loose leaf stamp album most suitable. Albums of this type usually come with a number of leaves already inserted. Then, as the leaves are filled with stamps, additional loose leaves can be purchased and inserted into the album.
Many collectors focus on collecting stamps from a particular period of history. Stamp albums for specific times can be purchased. These albums often feature pre-marked pages with illustrations of a particular stamp printed on the pages. When a collector purchases a given stamp, they then mount it over the printed illustration.
Collectors of the most valuable stamps can purchase albums produced with archival quality mounting pages. Made from polystyrol, albums of this type offer the best protection against environmental effects, and are often favoured by specialist collectors.
Collectors who want to turn their hobby into a business require a different way to display stamps, one suitable for potential buyers to look through. Stamp collectors boxes hold postcard sized mounting pages that display individual or small groups of stamps for convenient inspection by a potential buyer.
Collections of Stamps
Many collectors jump start their collections by purchasing stamp collector kits.. Kits of this type frequently contain a small album, some essential equipment such as tweezers and mounts, as well as a selection of used stamps. Such kits provide an inexpensive introduction to the hobby of stamp collecting.
Many online sellers offer larger collections of used postage stamps from one or more countries. These make for a cost effective way to extend an initial collector pack, and can frequently provide enough variety to allow a collector to begin to think about which area of the hobby to specialise in.
From the outset, the stamps of a stamp collection should be handled only with a pair of tweezers. This prevents the paper from becoming contaminated with the natural oils produced by the skin. A pair of tweezers also makes it easier to handle small stamps. More advanced collectors often use tweezers with stainless steel or gold plated tips, which are less damaging to the most valuable stamps.
Some stamps are issued in multiple versions which feature varying numbers of perforations on them. When one version of the stamp is less common than the other, this can lead to an increase in its value. A perforation gauge is a handy tool that counts the number of perforations; it is a useful addition to any philatelist's tool kit.
Many stamp manufacturers use watermarked paper to make fraud more difficult. With modern printing techniques, it is not always possible to detect watermarks beneath colorful inks. However, a simple watermark detector is an economical tool that reveals watermarks, previous repairs, and areas of thin paper, which can all affect the value of a stamp.
Everyday British stamps are printed using a single design, but the stamps are varied through the use of several different colours. Some stamps are worth considerably more than others, due to their relative rarity; these are usually of more interest to collectors. It is often difficult to identify stamps by their colour, so collectors should consider buying another useful tool, called a stamp colour key.. A series of cards are preprinted with colours and their names to enable easy identification of a given stamp.
How to Buy Stamp Collecting Supplies on eBay
eBay offers a range of tools to help you make an informed purchase of stamp collecting supplies. The search tools allow you to type in the name of the item you are looking for (e.g. "stamp hinges&"), and the search engine returns a list of items that match the description. If your search does not return any items that meet your needs, eBay suggests alternative terms for you. These are displayed underneath the main search bar, and one click is all that is needed to create a new list of items for sale. Sometimes, the search may return too many listing to conveniently browse, so you may wish to choose a more specific search term. Alternatively, you can use the suggested filter criteria that eBay offers to help narrow down your search by filtering on price range, location and new or used status. You can also use the Advanced Search tool to find out what similar items have sold for, to help you decide how much you wish to bid on a particular listing.
When choosing a seller, remember that sellers whose profiles feature a great deal of positive feedback are the ones most likely to provide you with a smooth transaction, quality merchandise, and prompt shipping.
It is possible to buy almost anything on the internet that one might otherwise expect to find in a shop on the High Street. However, when it comes to specialty items such as stamp collecting supplies, conventional shops tend to be in short supply, buyers can benefit from using an online platform like eBay.
Buying stamp collecting supplies online can also help reduce the costs of the hobby. By looking at items from a number of sellers, buyers can often find the item they want at the best possible prices. They can also use listings as a source of information about new supplies or materials. Moreover, sellers can often provide technical information about new products. Even if their descriptions are unclear, buyers can use the eBay messaging feature to ask specific questions.
eBay has a range of user-friendly features that help shoppers find exactly what they want at a price they can afford. Detailed information about sellers and their return policy can all help a buyer shop with confidence.