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My Worldwide Collection: An Ongoing Journey

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Posted 10/04/2018   8:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add spain_1850 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've actually been contemplating starting a thread for a while now. I even gave thought to a Facebook page or even a blog for my collection. But I figured this forum would work well since I can post about what's happening with my collection, in a linear fashion.

Unfortunately, I have already been on my worldwide collecting trip for a little over a year, so I'll have to summarize a bunch of things that got me to the point I am at now.

First off, a little about me and my collecting:
I have never really thought of myself as a worldwide collector, at least not seriously. And although I specialized in certain areas for many years I always maintained a worldwide album. But that was mostly as a diversion when there wasn't much going in my main areas of interest. It also mostly consisted of odds and ends I found in other lots or small collections from the swap meet or flea markets I frequent. Very much a small time collection.

Funny thing is you never really realize how much "odds and ends" you accumulate over 45 years, until you try to organize it.

Fast forward to the fall of 2017:
While perusing items for sale in my local, small town garage sale facebook page I came across a vague ad for a stamp collection. Vague, as in very few pictures and not a very good description. The pictures were kind of blurry, but you could tell there were stamps in them.

Most of the time, when you find facebook stamp collections for sale, you will see much of the same stuff which usually includes, a random selection of common stamps, or some approval glassines from places such as Kenmore, Harris, Mystic, etc... These pictures included, what looked to be piles of glassines and 102 cards in a box, filled with stamps. The stamps were not the usual childhood collection items, but small sets from various countries and it piqued my interest. I decided to message the seller about them.

I asked how many stamps were there, he said he wasn't sure, but there were thousands. Couldn't tell that from the pictures. He was being kind of vague, so I asked the approximate weight. He said maybe 20 lbs. Now, if there were albums with stamps, then 20 lbs would probably be more album weight.

I then found out he lived within 5 miles of my home, so I asked if we could meet to look at them. He didn't answer any time soon, so I figured he was either a flake or had already sold them. We messaged back and forth for about a week (I was bored) and it really seemed like he was not wanting me to see them, because we were NOT able to agree on a time or place.

Finally, we decided on a time and place and I was actually a bit nervous. But it was a pretty public place so......

When he arrived he brought out a cardboard carton, 12 x 12 x 12 I believe, that was stuffed full of envelopes, glassines 102 cards and loose stamps. I had a hard time believing this box weighed 20 lbs. While I was looking through it he was busy retrieving 2 more boxes from the cab of his truck. Now it was getting good.

There were a total of 6 boxes (not all big though) and 4 albums. After trying to hold in my glee I decided to give him the $200 he was asking.

While talking to the guy, he told me he had been collecting for a number of years. He would routinely attend auctions where he would buy collections. He would keep the ones he wanted and strip ht rest out of the albums, placing them in large and small envelopes. Some by country and some loose. He also told me he was mostly interested in the German, British and US stamps for himself, and that he had already sold those collections by themselves. Thus there isn't much from those areas in the accumulation I was getting. No big deal.


Here are a few of the pictures I took, as soon as I got home, of a few of the boxes with the unsorted contents as I bought them.




This is 3 of the albums. A 2 volume Minkus WW, probably 40-50% full, and a really nice (but messy) Morocco collection. This included Spanish, French and British offices.


I will try to get up to the present in as short a time as possible, but I do want to document things as much as I can.

Tomorrow I will describe how I decided on my choice of albums, binders etc..

Questions, comments and observations welcome.
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Posted 10/04/2018   9:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Congratulations on a good fine ,looks like hours of enjoyment . It is the relaxing and entertaiment value that is the most important .
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Posted 10/04/2018   9:46 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Lovely stuff Spain_1850.
Looks like 12 months of sorting.
Currently, I leave my unsorted in boxes, then take out a few pages every day (or whatever time permits)
and work on them.
Otherwise it can sometimes be overwhelming.
Have fun.
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United Kingdom
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Posted 10/05/2018   12:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add crispinhj to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm really looking forward to the next instalment. A story like this gives me a lot of pleasure. As Sherlock Holmes would have said "Pray continue with your most interesting narrative"
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Posted 10/05/2018   03:10 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Ringo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Looking forward as well. Should be a great thread.
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Posted 10/05/2018   7:57 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spain_1850 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Congratulations on a good fine ,looks like hours of enjoyment . It is the relaxing and entertaiment value that is the most important .

floortrader - Thank you. Yes, lot's of fun and relaxation. I'm into this about a year now and I can't think of many days that I haven't done at least something to further the project along.


Quote:
Looks like 12 months of sorting.
Currently, I leave my unsorted in boxes, then take out a few pages every day (or whatever time permits)
and work on them.
Otherwise it can sometimes be overwhelming.
Have fun.

rod222 - I believe it took about a month of sorting just to get everything organized by country. I still have some misc items in 1 box that got set aside for whatever reason. And yes, I can see how it could easily get overwhelming, I've tried to work out a systematic approach and not look too far ahead. Although I do on occasion pick out a random envelope just to sift through and see what's inside since I really don't know what's in 90% of the envelopes yet.


Quote:
I'm really looking forward to the next instalment. A story like this gives me a lot of pleasure. As Sherlock Holmes would have said "Pray continue with your most interesting narrative"

crispinhj - I too love reading similar threads which is what inspired me to start my own.


Quote:
Looking forward as well. Should be a great thread.

Ringo - I will be attempting to add updates as frequent as I can.
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Posted 10/05/2018   7:57 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spain_1850 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Let's move on to my choices of albums and related items.

Choosing what I wanted to house my worldwide collection in wasn't really a hard choice, nor was it a drawn out process. Most of the common methods of housing stamps I have used for various parts of my collections in the past, so I kind of knew what was going to work for me and the way I was envisioning this worldwide collection to be. But still, I mulled over different options because I wanted to make sure I was going to be as happy with the results 5 years from now, as I am today.

Here are the options I was considering:

1. Pre-printed WW, all-in-one albums (Big Blue or similar)
This would have been easy, since I already have a 2 vol. Big Blue. First, let me say I admire hose who utilize these albums and can fill them to a high degree of completion. They really look impressive when filled. But, they would not work for my plan. For all their pluses, they are just too limiting for what I wanted. That, and as I get older I don't want o throw my back out trying to lug one of those big books off the shelf.

2. Pre-printed specialty albums (Scott, most probably).
This is something that if I had made a go of this, say, 20 years ago, I would have probably went this route. But, looking at them today, I can see that they are limiting as well, although not as much as the Big Blue. Yes, they tend to have a decent degree of completion, as far as basic stamps go, and YES you can buy blank pages to add to them, but I do not possess a wide carriage printer for the Specialty sized paper. New albums are expensive (for me) and buying used ones usually means buying the collection, remains of a collection, which means even more duplicates. I really feel I will already end up with a decent showing of most countries from what I already have, so I ruled this option out.

3. Custom album pages.
Always wanted to make my own pages and with awesome prgrams like AlbumEasy, it's truly never been easier. However, I doubt I would live long enough to create custom pages for an entire large WW collection. But, this option is a great choice for making the occasional page to mount items that go beyond the scope of the regular pages.

4. Stock books/page system.
I have uses Vario pages in the past, especially for my Spanish collection, but I just grew to not like them. They have a tendency to attract dust and cat hair, and look really bad when the shiny surface gets wore from rubbing against each other. Also, I like to insert larger items, such as blocks covers and SS sheets, next to single stamps and I've never really been able to make it look good on these. They would also be cost-prohibitive for my needs, especially for a large WW collection. I also have damaged more than a few stamps trying to move them around in the pockets. I still use some sheets and stock books, but mainly for temporary housing without regards to presentation.

5. Print your own ready-made pages (Steiner).
Steiner pages are the clear winner for a number of reasons. I much prefer the simplistic design, although I know some feel they are kind of dull. They are, for the most part, as complete as the Scott catalog since they are based on Scott. They can be printed on regular size paper, so no special printer. You can choose whatever type, or color, of paper you want.
I went ahead and ordered the CD from Bill, so I can print as many pages off as I want. If I mess one up, I simply print another.

Also, with the AlbuymEasy program I was easy to make a basic template that closely mimics the Steiner design. So I can make pages for varieties, shades, covers, or whatever, be able to insert them into the album and they blend seamlessly. This is probably the biggest plus which allows me to collect a country as basically, or as in depth, as I wish.

Paper:
This actually took me a while to figure on since I only had experience with cover stock. The times I used cover stock in the past were OK, I guess, but I seemed to have trouble feeding it through my cheapo printer. Basically one sheet at a time and with thousands of pages needing printed, I couldn't justify it for this. Ultimately, I decided on HP Premuim32, bright white paper. It's thicker than standard printer paper, but not as heavy as cover stock. It feeds and prints easily in my printer, is acid free, and I can get reems at my local print shop, as I need them, instead of buying cases of it. If HP decides to stop making it, I have seen other company's similar alternatives. And since it's basic white, I'm not worried too much.



Binders:
I REALLY wanted to use nice, stamp binders, but again, my budget won't allow it. I chose cheap, 3 d-ring binders, from Walmart. I know, heresy, right?

My though is that these will do and I can always upgrade to nicer binders if the opportunity arises.

I chose 1" binders over larger ones, just because they are easier for me to handle.


Mounts:
I've used both clear and black mounts in the past, both top loading and split-back and had an idea of I wanted here. I went with clear-top loading mounts over black. I like the ease with which I can remove and add stamps, since I will be upgrading stamps as necessary. I chose clear over black because I am not the best at cutting mounts and even the slightest bit of angled or wavy cut is a BIG distraction to my eye. Clear mounts are more forgiving in that respect.

I have been buying Showgard "seconds" for a while now and I love them. but I buy the split back types, in strips and slice them down the middle to make my top loading mounts. It's much more economical that way. And since I am only using mounts for 19th century, unused and stamps with a CV of over $10, it ain't too bad.


Hinges:
Yes, I said hinges....for most everything used. And I refuse to pay the BIG money for Dennisons and others. There is a finite number of them in existence, so eventually everyone will have to use whatever is being made. I'll just tough it and buy whatever I can find as I need them. oh yeah, I also cut my hinges in half. I'm cheap like that.

Next time - My storage system

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Posted 10/06/2018   05:28 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
5. Print your own ready-made pages (Steiner).
Steiner pages are the clear winner for a number of reasons. I much prefer the simplistic design, although I know some feel they are kind of dull. They are, for the most part, as complete as the Scott catalog since they are based on Scott. They can be printed on regular size paper, so no special printer. You can choose whatever type, or color, of paper you want.
I went ahead and ordered the CD from Bill, so I can print as many pages off as I want. If I mess one up, I simply print another.


We share identical methods.

For your consideration: If my collection is comprehensive say to 1998
Say stamps come in for 1999, 2000, 2001, etc then I print off JUST 1 Steiner page of that date/s, as long as the page header shows 1999 or 2000 etc, place the page in the sheet protector, then use it as a glassine to keep the year stamps in one place, and mount later when the amount justifies it.
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Posted 10/06/2018   06:45 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Spain_1850,

I also follow something very similar.

I use Steiner pages but print them on cream paper. White was just too bright and ended up redoing several hundred pages. This is an option you have with print your own pages. I use Vario G binders at around $35 per binder. Steiner does have pages for minor varieties and some unlisted and as you said you can always create your own. I add catalog numbers to pages prior to printing.

I have purchased a number of country collections still mounted on Scott pages and the paper quality (it varied over time), completeness, layout, etc. do not impress me.

I also use clear mounts with mounts shorter than 40 made by splitting split back mounts in half. I avoid hinges as well to make it easy to upgrade which I do regularly.
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Al
Edited by angore - 10/06/2018 08:36 am
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Posted 10/06/2018   10:56 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spain_1850 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
We share identical methods.

For your consideration: If my collection is comprehensive say to 1998
Say stamps come in for 1999, 2000, 2001, etc then I print off JUST 1 Steiner page of that date/s, as long as the page header shows 1999 or 2000 etc, place the page in the sheet protector, then use it as a glassine to keep the year stamps in one place, and mount later when the amount justifies it.


I would say very similar, but not quite identical. In the same situation as you noted, I would actually just print individual pages for stamps that go beyond the "comprehensive cutoff". I then make a small notation on the left hand margin, next to the bottom hole punch, the filename, or date, and page number (example "1997-24"). This leaves me with gaps in the pages, yes, but I can easily fill them in when I get more stamps.
I just really didn't want to print a bunch of pages that may stay blank forever, since there is no telling when, or if, I would acquire more stamps.


Quote:
I also use clear mounts with mounts shorter than 40 made by splitting split back mounts in half. I avoid hinges as well to make it easy to upgrade which I do regularly.


angore:
I am similar. I have also found that TALL stamps tend to get "tippy" in top loading mounts, so I have decided to use split back mounts for tall ones.

I could never afford binders such as those, at least not right now. The cheap binders I get at Walmart cost around $3, which work for now.
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Posted 10/07/2018   05:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I am now on a print on demand method. No need to have a lot of empty pages that fill up binders. It does not take much effort to figure out I have a missing page. I use Stamp Manage as my initial identifier and break out the Scott if SM does not have a listing or image. The other method is to go to Stampworld and look at their images (far more complete than Scott).

I focus on British Commonwealth through 1980 or so usually not that hard to find items.
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Al
Edited by angore - 10/07/2018 05:33 am
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Cyprus
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Posted 10/07/2018   08:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Moose to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I find myself with a similar conundrum, to print or not to print...
Having concentrated on British Commonwealth definitive series 1938-1960, I was quite happy to create my own pages to accommodate my collections. Similarly I was quite happy to do the same for my South African and Cyprus collections.
I have in the meantime taken an interest in collecting Europe up to 1990 and have found myself suddenly with approximately 9000 stamps from four different countries requiring a home. Many are mint, others used.
I tend to concentrate on a couple of countries at a time to keep things in focus, but I find myself contemplating printed albums with mounts to house these collections to, which in time, I hope to add more country collections.
I have decided (If I take the printed album plunge) on DAVO albums from the Netherlands, they seem well suited and are cheaper than other brands but still constitute a hefty budget considering I may need up to 4 albums i.e. 600 Euro per country.
Steiner is obviously an option but the thought of sitting through the entire printing process and hinging 9000 + stamps as well as cutting mounts (I shudder at the thought of hinging mint stamps)as well as trying to figure out which stamp goes where since I don't have a Scott catalogue I find the whole process daunting.
How do WW collectors keep things in focus and manageable?
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on hinge-mounting modern mint stamps
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Posted 10/07/2018   10:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add scb to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on hinge-mounting modern mint stamps


The European stamp market is mostly 'hingless' with mint stamps - and as such if/when you place a hinge on mint stamp, you are effectively destroying the stamps market value.

That said, the demand for "modern" mint stamps is so low/non-existing, that if you use mounts or hingless albums then the only party making profit will be mount/album makers.

So it's a catch-22.

Of course you could switch to stockpages / stock books like most of the European worldwide collectors.

-k-
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Collecting the world 1840 to date one stamp at a time.
Author & owner of Stamp Collecting Blog
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Posted 10/07/2018   11:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spain_1850 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
That's an interesting topic and one I've thought about in the past. I really only have experience with modern(ish), US mint stamps. It's no secret that modern(ish) US stamps can be bought, and sold, at less than face value. BUT, they are still valid for postage and therefore have a real world value of what's printed on them. The market value is actually less.

I really can't see how hinging modern mint stamps can diminish their "value", because you can buy them at a discount, hinge them into your album, and at some point, use them for postage. You will actually be getting MORE value out of them by using them than re-selling them, hinge marks won't make a bit of difference. Their "market" value may be even less, but you can still get full FACE value out of them.
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Posted 10/07/2018   12:26 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add scb to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I really can't see how hinging modern mint stamps can diminish their "value", because you can buy them at a discount, hinge them into your album, and at some point, use them for postage. You will actually be getting MORE value out of them by using them than re-selling them, hinge marks won't make a bit of difference. Their "market" value may be even less, but you can still get full FACE value out of them.


This is yet another of those big differences in US vs. European (and rest of world) collecting....


For starters there's naturally the obvious: US is single country, Europe alone is 50 countries each with unique rules and regulations for each.

Generally speaking, majority of European pre-Euro era stamps are invalid as postage. Thus their value is what collectors are willing to pay.

With more recent Euro-era issues the validity of 'forever stamps' is basically unlimited, but their value can change over time. For example Finnish Post terminated 2nd class mail not so long ago, and 2nd class stamps were given a 'value raise'. There's also been situation where 1st class rate has been decreased, thus effectively making stamps worth less. And for example in Sweden some NVI stamps have been turned into 'fixed value' (simply because the original offer was too good).

And then there are countries where stamps are not 'valid forever' (unlike in US). For example many non-Euro countries have got high inflation, and and as such lifespan of stamps is being limited by postal administration.

So all in all comparing US practices to European practices is like comparing apples to oranges. There's some common ground, but also plenty of differences.... I noted Moose was writing of collecting European stamps (pre-1990), hence my focus with European approach.

-k-
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Collecting the world 1840 to date one stamp at a time.
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Edited by scb - 10/07/2018 12:29 pm
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Posted 10/07/2018   12:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spain_1850 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A little about my storage/sorting system:

Having acquired this large, unsorted mass of worldwide stamps, it was clear I needed to figure out a way to organize them in a systematic way, to maximize my time being able to actually mount them into albums.

Nothing would be more disheartening than to get overwhelmed by the enormity of this project. After all, this is suppose to relaxing, not stressful.

After getting this accumulation home, I decided to start working on at least getting them organized by country. This was a huge challenge or me because at the time, me and my wife were in the middle of both trying to sell our house, buying a new house, and packing for the impending move. So I couldn't exactly keep things spread out while prospective buyers were touring the house.

The first step was to sort out all the envelopes, glassines and 102 cards that actually had a country name written on them, and start alphabetizing them in boxes. In this case I used Priorty mail boxes that I had laying around. They worked well and weren't too bulky.

This picture shows what the boxes look like with everything lined up. they are packed pretty tight right now. Some countries may have a dozen envelopes filled with loose stamps.


Here are all the boxes lined up at the top of my work station. There are 6 of them right now (including the plastic tote). Each one marked alphabetically A-C, D-G, etc....


I also have a tote filled with large, manilla, envelopes. These are basically reserved for album leaves, approval pages, and loose album pages. But also, many have large quantities of loose stamps in them. I just thought I'd leave them in those since they were already identified by country.

There was also a large amount of loose stamps mixed in the boxes. I sorted all those out into 1 container, for later country sorting. After all the loose stamps were sorted by country, they then got filed into the boxes mentioned above.


This process took about a month by itself, before I could even start to work with the stamps.

I actually decided to wait until our move was complete before beginning. Which was only a couple more weeks away. In the meantime I was gathering binders, paper and stocking up on ink. I already had my Steiner disc in hand, so I was ready.

When I was finally able to sit down to actually start to enjoy the stamps that were waiting for me in all those envelopes, I also had to figure out a way to store sorted stamps awaiting mounting, and duplicates.

My initial thought was going to be glassines and 102 cards in bulk. BUT, I went in a completely different direction and use something I already had, so no extra expense there.

My solution was to use supplies that I had from my sports card collecting. Those familiar with sports cards here in the US already know what penny sleeves are. For those who are not, they are poly sleeves made to hold a standard size sports card that measures 2.5" x 3.5". They are suppose to be archival safe and have been used for years to store sports cards, by many, with values in the 1000's of dollars. I think they will be safe for my .20 stamps.

"penny sleeves"


I would also need something to stiffen them up a bit so I just cut card stock to the size of a baseball card and insert it behind the stamp. I mark the Scott number in the upper left, the date of issue in the upper right and can use the rest of the surface for making notations of perforation varieties, cancels, shades or whatever.

The card stock I can find at flea markets, sometimes even thrift stores for very cheap, and color doesn't matter.


Then I need a place to store these, so the obvious solution would be boxes used to store sports cards. The boxes I use can hold up to 2500 sports cards, and I estimate I have around 2000 penny sleeves, with stamps, in mine. They hold anywhere from 1 to 100 stamps each. A total of 4 are being used right now. One is used for stamps ready to be mounted, the other 3 are for duplicates.


I made a makeshift shelf to store these boxes in.


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