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I Inherited A Sizable Collection & Would Like To Get Into The Hobby But I Need Help Getting Started.

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Posted 09/16/2020   4:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Relm to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello! Around a year and a half ago one of my mother's elderly Facebook friends passed away, she and my mother talked a fair bit, and my mother told her I liked history and would probably be interested in stamps. The lady was a life long stamp collector and shortly after her passing a few things arrived at the house:

* A black handbag
* 3 US Liberty Stamp Albums of varying sizes
* A little green box

All filled with stamps, with a lot of them being foreign.

I didn't have much room at the time so I set them aside, and dragged my feet getting back to them, lately I went through and cleaned everything during quarantine and now is the ideal time for me to get into it. It touched me that she would send this to me, so I intend to keep building on it. I likewise understand that the odds are 1/10000 that I'm not sitting on gold, but a collection of "I'll give you x for the lot of 'em" stamps.

I'm going to post some images as well as a general description of the what's contained, if you see something you want a closer look at for any reason/more details I'll happily comply. I'm interested in learning more about these so if there's any light at all you could shed on anything in here I would be grateful.

For those less interested in the images than the questions I have for getting started, I'll post them here instead of under the image spam to come:

1. Are there some generally good resources I should be aware of?
2. What are the bad habits/practices/taboos to be aware of before I slip up?
3. What are some options I Have for how to take these stamps from their current state in a million little envelopes and putting them onto something more displayable and organized?
4. Any general advice is also helpful!

Now onto the collection itself!


In the thinnest of the liberty binders were these folders. I think their covers speak for themselves.


A look at the inside of one of these (1972), from what I can tell they all have their stamps.



I didn't take it at a good angle but there was also a folder containing a bunch of sheets like on the right for various nations. From a quick look through it's about 70% European, 20% British Empire, 10% misc.



All three of the liberty albums contain American Album pages, a good 90% are blank. It's about 1 1/2 binder of American history and the third binder being 1/2 filled and focusing on media and miscellany. The lady who collected these put the great condition stamps in black protectors, but most pages are only 10-40% completed amongst the ones that have stamps at all.



Now onto the handbag!



Though the cover says Russia the folder is something like 30% Austrian, 20% German, 30% misc eastern europe, and 20% Russia. These stamps all were out of their envelopes and loose in the folder, none look damaged from it thankfully.



I don't know what this is held in, but the stamps here are labeled differently than anything else in the box (as in they're labeled at all), figured I'd mention it. These were in its own folder.



There was a little Christmas card box in the bag that contained the jackpot of the whole collection, I'm frankly scared to touch these but as expected they're almost entirely european.



The envelopes underneath contain stamps in condition like these (Canada).



from top left to bottom right: 1$ collection of painting stamps and flower stamps, folder containing a large quantity of British Empire stamps, mostly focusing on the African and Oceanic parts (South Africa and Australia make up half the folder), A Stamp Identification help book, some stuff from an auction she went to, two envelopes of stamps (100 communist china and 25 cambodia) as well as 25 Malaya/Malaysia, a neat little colour guide, and a bunch of polish stamps in an unlabeled envelope.



Thankfully the bag also contained a bunch of stuff to (hopefully) help move these into something more organized.



The green box!



In the front is a bunch of these envelopes of stamps, there's a decent amount of american stamps in this portion, especially compared to the rest of the collection.



The middle is a bunch of note cards listing nations that fall under the letters above, but nothing else in them. At the back here are more envelopes that are about the same breakdown as the rest of the collection. 70% Europe, 20% British Empire, and 10% misc.


I apologize if this post breaks any sort of rule I missed.

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Posted 09/16/2020   4:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Looks like lots of fun. My initial thought is that you shoulxd throw away the packets of Crystal Mounts, which weren't good for stamps. Second one is that you should gradually work through the loose or unsorted material, putting it into continents/countries etc.
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Posted 09/16/2020   4:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Relm to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
1. If you don't mind my asking, what about them makes them not good for stamps?
2. I intend to do that once I get the table cleared off, I'll probably post them when I do.
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Posted 09/16/2020   4:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add danstamps54 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Relm!

You've come to the best place on the internet for friendly, knowledgeable collectors!

It looks like you have a fine start to a collection! It is a nice tribute to your mother's friend that you plan on extending her collection.

There are a lot of threads here on basic collecting tools and how to mount/present your collection that you can search.

I'll second the comment -- ditch the Crystal Mounts. That goes for the stamps that are already in the mounts. Getting them out of those mounts asap is the safest thing to do. Lots of comments on Crystal Mounts here too.

Have fun, enjoy your collection and don't hesitate to ask questions!

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Experienced stamps need a home too. I'd rather have an example that is imperfect than no example.
I collect for enjoyment, not investment.
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Posted 09/16/2020   4:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add codehappy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Crystal Mounts had a tendency to warp or wrinkle with changes in temperature and humidity. In extreme cases, they could roll into tight little tubes! As you can imagine, this does permanent damage to stamps held inside the mount.
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Posted 09/16/2020   4:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add shermae to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Take your time, have fun, and browse your stamps. This will help you determine which countries or topics you like (e.g. birds, maps, religion, space, sports, etc). It's a lot more fun for a stamp collector to learn about and acquire stamps that personally "speak" to them.

Yes per Geoff Crystal Mounts will damage stamps so they should be discarded. Always use stamp tongs when handling stamps- one's fingers can damage stamps. Buy one if you don't see one included with the accumulation. Perhaps pick one country of interest, and see if your local library has a circulating set of Scott's catalog. Look at each stamp one by one to try and find out which catalog number the stamp is in Scott's. It isn't always easy but practice will pay rich rewards in terms of finding things more easily over time. This would especially by valuable for stamps not already in an album, however cataloging the stamps in albums is great practice.

When working on stamps, never have any liquids on your table. Drinks etc should be on a different table, or below the level of your work table to avoid water damage.

Also look to see if the collection has a perforation gauge. All new collectors should learn how to use one as skill with a perforaton gauge can be extremely helpful in identifying stamps that exist with more than one type/measurement of perforation.

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Edited by shermae - 09/16/2020 4:31 pm
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357 Posts
Posted 09/16/2020   4:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hoosierboy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Relm,

Collecting for the enjoyment of collecting, whatever that might be, is the name of the game. Don't hesitate to ask questions especially if you need basic information and especially more advanced sources of information for any possible topic. You should be able to find folks on this board a little further along on their collecting journey glad to share experiences.

You have found a great resource here. I notice most of these stamps are at least thirty years old or older. Look for a good used set of Scott Catalogues at at least ten years old or older. The new ones are just to expen$$$$ive for your current needs. Purchase a pack of 100 glassine envelopes and create an envelope for stamps you have from each country.

Get rid of paper envelopes, Crystal Mount, etc. and never use tape or glue to mount or store stamps. I think the album pages you have will not damage your stamps over time but the acid content of paper can.

Leave any stamps you have on complete envelopes on those envelopes for now. They are postal history items telling a more complete story than just the stamps on them.

Again, welcome to the hobby. Russ

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Posted 09/16/2020   5:30 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jkelley01938 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Relm,


The first thing I would do is to trash those Crystal Mounts. I strongly believe it wise to narrow your interests and focus on one thing at a time. If you decide USA, get yourself some Showgard Mounts and re-mount anything currently housed in Crystal Mounts. Perhaps you could consider purchasing a Mystic Premium Album set. They are reasonable and will have all the updates that you will need. I consider the Mystic Premium to be the Harris/All-American of today.

Jack Kelley
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Posted 09/16/2020   5:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Relm to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you all for the kind advice and well wishes!

In the second to last image you can see a bunch of rolled up mounts like y'all described. Thankfully no stamps are in those. Most stamps are in envelopes like these:



These are Glassine envelopes yes?

Likewise in the binder a good portion of the stamps are attached via the stamp hinges scene in the photo, are these also okay?

I've tossed the crystal mounts but frankly I don't remember seeing even a single stamp contained in one through the collection... which is odd since one of the mount packs is open but I'm not going to complain.

I also bought a few things from Mystic Stamp Company not long ago, a few Individuals, 25 malta, 25 vatican, 100 boxing. I've got an idea of what types I like (Foreign + History + Boxing) so I'm very happy with the collection so far.

Stamp tongs were in the bag when I got it, I don't believe there's a perforation gauge but I can always get one.

"I think the album pages you have will not damage your stamps over time but the acid content of paper can."

Does this mean that I should shift the stamps in the album over to more fit the black protectors where the stamp isn't ever making any contact with paper then? Or am I misinterpreting this?

I don't think my library has Scott's Catalog in it but I can always check, if it doesn't what would be the ideal way to get the versions I need? I see a lot of different kinds of the catalog, so is there a specific link or title y'all could drop in the case I'd have to buy a used copy from somewhere?

In addition to that, when I go through the collection and sort it all out by nation and posted pictures of it all, which board would that go under here on the site?

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Posted 09/16/2020   5:33 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Relm to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the suggestion Jack, I was looking at getting it actually but wanted to here what y'all had to say first. US History, Europe at large, and Boxing would probably be the main three things I collect if I'm honest.
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Posted 09/16/2020   7:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Andyrich74 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Crystal mounts; used those some 37 years ago and thought they were the bomb!

Keep posting photos Relm, you generally see a lot of answers and comments in this forum.
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Posted 09/16/2020   7:35 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Welcome, Relm.

Approaching your potential interests you do want to be honest wih uourself cause you want this to be a pleasant pasttime, one that you might already know a bit about and will learn more.
Boxing - you might consider joining the American Topical Assoc. if only for a year trial. They publish checklists on various topics, so you could get their list of boxing stamps to help focus the worldwide search for these. Nice topic, I think. There is a forum thread on sports that shows some boxing stamps. The search feature will help you find it just by entering boxing.

US here I think you will want to figure out fairly early on what period you want to collect. A lot of folks on this forum, mylsef included, stop at about 2000 give or take and only collect before our cut-off. This may affect what you want to do for an album. You might want to keep using what you have or, it might be a good move to go for a Mystic Heritage album as mentioned by Jack which comes with mounts already. The mounts can add up if you are purchasing them yourself. There are several threads on selecting a US album which you can find with the forum search feature.

You can find a used Scotts Specialized US catalog on eBay or through the used book market. addall.com/used is a very useful metasearch of many used book stores and platforms. Just search by title scott specialized catalogue and try a year like 2010 in the keyword.

Check back with how you are doing. It is a good group with lots of accumulated wisdom.

- Jonathan


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Edited by jleb1979 - 09/16/2020 7:37 pm
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Posted 09/16/2020   10:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Partime to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Just my opinion, but don't buy anything more from Mystic Stamp Company. You can read more comments about them here, but, in general, way overpriced for what you get. Concentrate on what you have, determine where you want to go, then come back here and ask for best advise on how to pursue your goals.

And welcome to the Forum!
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Posted Yesterday   07:02 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jamesg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A new set of Scott catalogs (worldwide) will cost you 6 x $75 a piece, plus another $125 if you want U.S. Specialized catalog (which most serious U.S. collectors also need).

If you focus on older material (before 2000 say), then you should be fine buying an individual volume or the entire set USED that is somewhere up to that 20 year old mark and get by just fine. If you look hard and are patient, they are easy to come by and get a deal on via eBay.

(Just as an example: A 1999 6 volume international set is at auction bidding about $23 right now, closing in less than 2 days - plus 13 for shipping) Not bad if you can get close to that. The shipping is what usually will kill you on the old books, though they can be shipped using 'media mail' rate if you can get the seller to look into it (huge savings!)

Albums (even full of stamps) can also be purchased in bid lots, often for a fraction of their cost on eBay - just need patience and some hard shopping. A 20th century U.S. collection complete from 1930-1980 (typical) with all stamps in mint condition will go for a song on eBay right now. Then you only have to buy all the expensive stuff <1930 and >1980 :-) Why is 1980 on so expensive - postal rates are 10x higher today than they were in 1980!!!! (not to mention there were ~1800 U.S. stamps produced from 1947-1980 and ~3700 produced since 1980!)
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Edited by jamesg - Yesterday 07:14 am
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Posted Yesterday   08:18 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I question the idea of investing in catalogs until you decide if the hobby is for you and where your philatelic interests lay. Instead, you can easily use online resources to ID stamps. A site like Stamp Smarter has thousands of pages of free information, it would take you days to read through them all. And there are other significant amounts of additional resources, like this forum, which could keep a person busy for weeks and weeks before making decisions about your new hobby. (Keep in mind that catalog pricing typically has little to do with actual market value, do not be fooled into thinking that any catalog is going to give you a good idea on what you should be paying or selling stamps for.)
But no matter how you approach learning, there are no real shortcuts to the time investment in learning.
Don
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Posted Yesterday   12:35 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Relm to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank y'all for the advice.

Ordered a set of tongs and a perforation guage, when those get in I'll go through and separate them by country and keep y'all updated if I have any more questions when that happens.
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