An inexpensive vintage stamp album can add a great sense of history to your collection.
Beginning in the earliest days of stamp collecting, enterprising companies produced hardbound books designed for protecting and displaying a collection.
Some can be intricately adorned, covered in artwork and as beautiful a display as you can find anywhere today.
In full swing by the 1930s, the stamp collecting boom led to some great vintage stamp collecting albums being mass produced. This means even today you can find one in like-new condition.
The Scott Company, in particular, produced some really high quality albums in the 1930s that are still relatively common and can be purchased inexpensively from most stamp dealers.
What to consider when buying
With old vintage stamp collecting albums, it isn't much of a surprise that there can be a big difference in quality from one to the next.
Here are some things to check if you are buying.
Page Quality - some of these albums have thin pages and won't support stamp well. Make sure you find one with thick paper stock.
Page Layout - ideally, there will be only one side of each page for stamp mounting. For double-sided pages, interleaves can prevent stamps entangling with those on the facing page.
Binder Quality - watch for binder damage. You want a firm, tight binder that will last the life of the collection.
Wear and Tear - Look for a clean album. Make sure the pages are complete and that there aren't obtrusive markings all over the pages and binder.
All that being said, you should be able to find a clean and solid worldwide or US album for $20 to $50 depending on the quality and design.
Even better, you can often find one for free if you buy a stamp collection that just happens to be mounted in a nice clean traditional stamp album.
One drawback is that you won't find any hingeless stamp albums so you will have to be more careful with mounting stamps in the book. This mainly comes into play if you use your own hingeless mounts or are using pages printed on both sides.
For most collections, neither of these pose much of a problem.
An additional benefit is the link a vintage relic provides to the history of the hobby. Many of us love thinking about the centuries of history embodied in stamps and a gorgeous album from the 1890s can be a physical reminder with every page of a collection.