Postage Stamp Collecting Supplies

For every collection there are postage stamp collecting supplies to meet your needs. Stamps are amazing collectibles and all of us go about collecting differently.

If you're putting together an exhibit on early Great Britain plate numbers you'll need different tools than in building a worldwide collection.

A number of postage stamp collecting supplies are useful for just about any collector to identify and store stamps.

Handling Stamps :

  • Tongs - tweezer-like instruments that come in a variety of lengths and shapes. Handling stamps transfers oil and dirt which can damage a stamp. This isn't a worry normally but tongs are a must if you're handling valuable stamps. The smallest of faults can mean thousands of dollars in value difference for rare, valuable stamps. Of course, tongs bring their own risks as you must take care to avoid causing any tears or creases. Take special care if you are still learning.

Analyzing Stamps :

  • Watermark Detector Fluid and Watermark Detector Trays - a black surface and liquid for "dipping" the stamp to identify watermarks and faults. Using a watermark detector fluid that is safe for stamps will allow you to view watermarks more clearly. Against the black tray background, you can really see pressed out creases, filled thins, and a host of other concealed stamp repairs. Watching a stamp dry as the watermark detector fluid evaporates is the best way to find all those tiny faults that are invisible when dry. There are few tools to identify faults that are as quick and effective in the hand of a practiced philatelist as some watermark detector fluid and a tray.
  • Magnifying glasses - a tool to increase the detail you can see. As far as postage stamp collecting tools go, this is one that almost every stamp collector needs. Collectors in almost any area need to be able to differentiate between stamps that look exactly alike until you get down to very fine details of the design. For this reason there are many varieties of magnifying glasses available. Small jewelers loops are convenient, portable, cheap, and good enough for most situations. Hgher power magnifiers with a strong light (I recommend a true color light source like an Ott lamp) or digital microscopes with computer software are options enabling even greater analysis and magnification.

Storing Stamps :

  • Stamp Hinges and Hinge-less Mounts - tools for mounting stamps in stamp albums or on pages. Hinges are small adhesives designed to be attached to the back of a stamp and to the album page simultaneously. This is called "hinging" a stamp and is the cheapest and fastest way to mount stamps. The drawback is that the stamp is not well protected and, if the stamp has original never hinged gum, it would ruin the stamp collecting values as Never Hinged stamps are generally worth much more than Hinged stamps. Hinge-less mounts are protective plastic sleeves slightly larger than a stamp that adhere to stamp album pages without adhering to the stamp. These are more expensive but offer more protection. Basically, if you have an inexpensive used stamp collection, go with hinges. For collections with never hinged and valuable stamps, hinge-less mounts will be safer and more valuable.
  • Stockbooks and pages - just about any format of page and small protective book has been designed to protect and store stamps. Stockbooks are a generic term for the most common of postage stamp collecting supplies that make it easy to store stamps and protects them at the same time. Also, they're easy to flip through to show off your collection! One word of advice is to never use any adhesive pages, like some photo albums, as they will damage your stamps.

These are a few of the many postage stamp collecting supplies out there but there is a near endless list of varieties of different tools and products for every collector. You may prefer to buy the most high tech ultraviolet light to find tagging varieties or you may prefer to hinge stamps in an album without too much fuss. Whatever your choice, there are postage stamp collecting supplies to fit your style.

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