By Stephanie Hyland, Storage.com
Stamp collecting has been considered “the hobby of kings and the king of hobbies” for years, and collectors go to great lengths to ensure that their collections stay in perfect condition. Whether you’re a beginner, seasoned professional, or you recently inherited a collection, it’s important that you find a safe place for your collection in order to keep it in good condition for many years to come—and we’re not talking a plastic bin at home.
According to experts, investing in a climate-controlled storage unit is a great option for preserving your collection. That’s because these units set and maintain specific temperature and humidity levels so storage items, like stamp collections, can’t be damaged by heat or humidity, both of which can warp and fade stamps.
“Stamps and covers should be kept where humidity and temperatures are at safe and fairly consistent levels,” says Don Sundman, President of Mystic Stamp Company, which is nationally recognized as a philatelic leader.
“Ideally, stamps should be stored at room temperature with a relative humidity of 50%,” adds Sundman. “High temperatures and humidity can activate the gum on the back of many stamps, which may cause them to stick to each other or to pages in stock books and albums.”
But it’s not just climate-controlled storage that can protect your collection. You need archival-quality albums to keep your collection in good shape while it’s in storage, as well as proper packing.
Chad Snee, editor of Linn’s Stamp News and Scott Publishing Co., says storing your stamp collection in archival-quality albums will ensure its protection.
“You want to make sure that album is made up of materials that aren’t going to cause the paper or the ink to degrade,” Snee explains. “If some of the stamps still have the gum on the back of them, you don’t want to store them loosely together because they can adhere to each other. The more organized you are, the better off your collection will be.”
Snee adds that you also need to store the albums upright during their time in storage to protect the stamps. “You don’t want to leave [archival] albums on their side because you then have the pages pressing on each other and less air going through the pages. You can end up having the stamps adhere to the pages.”
Nick Vespucci, owner of Nick’s Stamps, agrees with Snee about the importance of storing stamp albums correctly. “If it’s a collection of albums that contains hinged or mounted stamps, then upright would be the correct way to store them…If it’s a collection of mint sheets in folders, then horizontally would be the best way to store them.”
“The proper storage of postage stamps is key in maintaining the best possible condition of your aging stamp collection,” Vespucci adds. “The careful arrangement and organization of your collection will determine the integrity of each individual stamp. They should all be separated from each other and placed in Vario pages, which are made to protect postage stamps.”
Vespucci also says that, typically, stamp collections contain thousands of hinged stamps, which doesn’t protect them from sticking to the pages of the album. In this case, extra precaution is needed when placing them in albums for storage.
And much like a coin collection, experts say stamps should never be packed into albums or storage containers without proper utensils. “Use tongs whenever handling stamps costing more than 10¢,” says Sundman. “Even freshly washed hands can leave damaging body oils on stamps.”
Keep these expert tips in mind as you move your collection into self storage. It may just help you preserve your collection for hundreds of years and several family generations.