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Sorting Stamp Collection

 
 
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Valued Member
United States
29 Posts
Posted 08/15/2019   3:41 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add mooselaab to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
A while back I started collecting worldwide stamps and already have a few thousand from various sources. There seems to be many from various countries, I have a good album, so here is my question for you, What's the best way to sort them? Any help would be appreciated.
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United States
1667 Posts
Posted 08/15/2019   3:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jkelley01938 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Moose,

It is bewildering as I'm going thru the same thing. In fact, I got so frustrated that I went onto something else (Machins - more classifying and sorting). I will go back to my WW but not just yet. When I do, I will continue as before; namely sorting country by country. Get lots of 1 qt freezer "baggies" for starts.

Jack Kelley
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Edited by jkelley01938 - 08/15/2019 5:07 pm
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United Kingdom
4423 Posts
Posted 08/15/2019   5:53 pm  Show Profile Check GeoffHa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Depends on how your collection is structured. With mine, I'd sort home country/colonies (eg British Commonwealth, French area), then continents for all of the rest that don't fit into that category. Then work through the two countries/colonies and continents heaps, sorting into individual countries. Then knock the large board on which I'd been sorting onto the floor and chuckle at the absurdity of life.
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Australia
27477 Posts
Posted 08/15/2019   6:33 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I employ A5 binders with clear inserts, $3.75 each
Labelled (upgraded from these 2011 images) A to D, E to L, M to R etc etc.
Each page labelled with country.
Should hold about 5,000 to 15,000 stamps ready for sorting etc.

Mint unhinged can be placed in stock cards and placed in the pages to avoid damage.


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Edited by rod222 - 08/15/2019 6:33 pm
Pillar Of The Community
United States
925 Posts
Posted 08/15/2019   7:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spain_1850 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The first step for me is to sort out countries, by the first letter of the country name I am familiar with. I have a sorting tray and place all A countries in one slot, B countries next, etc.. Then store them in large envelopes ( I usually use large manilla type). Then, as I have time I take those envelopes and break them down into individual countries. This goes pretty quick since there are usually only 2 or 3 LARGE countries and a few smaller countries, so I don't have to spread out dozens of individual country piles all over the table. I do it this way because I like to sit with a lap tray in front of the TV and sort small batches at a time. After they are sorted by country, and in envelopes, they get filed in a file drawer, or file box (I currently have about a dozen files boxes and drawers, lined with large envelopes waiting their turn) and will sit until I am ready to ID them and break them down, readying them to be mounted in an album.
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United States
209 Posts
Posted 08/15/2019   8:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Coastwatcher to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have a piece of very thick, heavy cardboard about 2'x2' that fits nicely in my lap while I sit in my recliner and sort my stamps. I sort the stamps into continents one large handfull at a time. After each handfull is sorted, I put the stamps into a quart sized zip-lock bag with the continent name written on it with a Sharpie. When a continent bag gets full, I then sort the stamps in that bag into countries and, afterward, integrate them into my collection. At each stage, I try to weed out as many duplicates as I can, only keeping the best examples. Right now, I have 8 full quart bags that need to be sorted into countries as well as a 2'x2'x2' box full of stamps that need to go through the entire process. I'm in no big hurry, though, as winter is approaching and I'll have plenty of time on my hands.
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United States
1950 Posts
Posted 08/16/2019   01:30 am  Show Profile Check TheArtfulHinger's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add TheArtfulHinger to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If you've got a few thousand randomly mixed, sorting all of them can be quite time consuming. Assuming you have a worldwide album organized by country, you'll of course want to sort them by country before you start mounting. Sorting a few hundred at once on a decent sized desk or table can be accomplished at once without too much trouble, but if you're talking thousands, the piles can get unwieldy, and if the stamps of 100+ countries are represented, you need a lot of real estate. In that case you're better off picking out several countries at a time, preferably the ones with the most stamps, setting the rest aside to sort in round 2. Set those aside in an envelope and sort out another few countries until the pile becomes more manageable. Doing it that way will accomplish the task in less time than if you just take, say, 500 stamps at random and sort them completely and then repeat the process.
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United Kingdom
272 Posts
Posted 08/16/2019   5:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add steevh to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
With any type of sorting there is a trade off -- if you have too many categories, then the process will be very slow.

What works for me is to do an initial sort on a board into approx 25 categories, arranged in a 5-by-5 grid.

My pattern is as follows:
US Germany Europe (other) Commonwealth Africa South America
France Spain Commonwealth Caribbean Arab countries
New Zealand Italy Africa Asia
Australia Channel Islands
Canada GB Islands (inc. UN, PNG) Eastern Europe

(Yes, I do realize there are some empty spaces)

Then when a pile is so high it is about to topple over, I move it into an appropriate envelope.
When I have a few envelopes for a region, eg Africa, South America, Arabs -- I sort those into individual countries.

The rationale behind the system is that sorting is most efficient when splitting things into a small-ish number of roughly equal-sized categories.

Note that before doing any of this, I do a pre-sort into stuff that I think I might need, and stuff that I will directly bag up and sell on, via eBay.

I now have what must be over a million stamps sorted into envelopes by country!!! (it took a few years)
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Ecuador
156 Posts
Posted 08/18/2019   08:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add novato to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
all my stamps are on envelopes, would try those A5 binders
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Collect: Used stamps from Great Britain, Australia, Japan. used Australia KGV Heads. Used Australia Roos. Used Great Britain Queen Elizabeth II Heads (Machins)
Valued Member
United States
41 Posts
Posted 11/04/2019   4:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add sjtwxgirl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I sort alphabetically. I found cupcake pans work pretty well for sorting on my lap (combine a few less-used letters like O,Q,X,Y,Z). I fill an envelope with each letter, then sort those by country when each gets full. I also have a ? category for more puzzling items.

I have specific envelopes in large,shallow plastic storage boxes for each country. I put an index card or two in each envelope for added stability. I have some stamps always piled in each step of the process (from kiloware to sorted by country to exploring the ? pile). I can pick up whatever I'm in the mood for at the time. General sorting is low brain power and low vision-intensive. Dealing with country envelopes is the opposite.
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Canada
3724 Posts
Posted 11/06/2019   06:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Dianne Earl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Good morning mooselaab

I found myself in a similar situation when I started collecting seriously and this is what has worked for me and I still use this system to this day.

I started out with 3 photo boxes and a couple of boxes of letter size envelopes.

Getting a good stamp identifier was very helpful to identify the countries.

Using the dining room table I started sorting by country. At first I concentrated on countries that I could readily identify; Canada, US Australia, Great Britain etc.

I placed each country in it's own envelope and placed them in the photo box in alphabetical order.

Once an envelope was full I emptied it into a small box that I purchased at the dollar store.

I now have over 100 boxes.

once I had a good amount of stamps for a country I would catalogue them and place them in my albums.

Hope this is helpful.

Dianne
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Don't grumble that the roses have thorns, be thankful that the thorns have roses
Valued Member
United States
144 Posts
Posted 11/09/2019   3:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mootermutt987 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Like so many others, I sort alphabetically by country. I do it at the dining room table because I find it takes a LOT of room, and my dining table is the biggest I have. I sort initially by letter, then each letter into country. If your album is by 'area' (British, German, French areas, etc) then you may want to start breaking down by area, then by country. You will have to learn what country is in what area, and you'll have to learn what countries call themselves on stamps - but that's part of the fun/learning with stamp collecting. No real shortcuts - lots of sorting. Good luck and have fun!!
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Valued Member
United States
132 Posts
Posted 11/13/2019   11:33 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add qaman to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I do it a lot like Diane does, problem I have is I never get them put into albums!
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Valued Member
United States
147 Posts
Posted 11/13/2019   6:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add StatesmanStamper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My sorting has changed over time. I used to sort a pile completely into individual countries. While this had the benefit of minimizing the number of times I had to handle each stamp, progress felt slow.

Now I do sorting in multiple passes. The first pass separates out any U.S. stamps, A-B countries, as well as any damaged stamps. Once through the first time, the A-B countries get sorted into individual piles and placed in envelopes.

This has the bonus of giving me an idea of which countries are "heaviest" and my next pass will sort out the top four or five countries. In the mixture I'm currently going through, those are Canada, Germany, Great Britain, and France.

Dale
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Edited by StatesmanStamper - 11/13/2019 6:03 pm
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