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Advice On Printing Your Own Albums

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Posted 08/05/2020   12:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add mccune68 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've been lurking here for a while, just joined recently as I wanted to get some thoughts on plans I have for my stamp collection.

I have been collecting since I was a child, stepped away for a bit as a young adult (still kept the collection, just didn't do much with it) and have been active again for the past 15 years or so. I collect just US stamps, not postal stationary or plate blocks, mainly just the stuff you find in standard albums including back of the book.

I have been using Mystic Heirloom albums for a while now. They have some things about them I really like (good quality paper, Scott numbers, interesting text on the left pages, lie flat design), but they have some things I really don't like. My biggest pet peeves are that I like to collect both the se-tenant and the individual stamps that make it up, and Mystic generally only gives you a slot for the se-tenant. In addition, I also like to collect things like minor varieties if they get their own Scott number, like tagged/untagged, or date/color/perforation varieties. Since the Mystic albums don't have spaces for these, I have been buying blank album pages and extra binders, and then designing my own pages for these items. It works, but my dream albums would have these all integrated. I don't think I'd be able to find exactly what I want in a commercial album, so I've started exploring building my own.

I've been doing research on this, and think I have a plan, just wanted to see if anyone had any experience with this. I have been using AlbumEasy to start building my pages, and I think it will work well for this. As far as albums, I'm sort of leaning towards using Scott 3 ring binders with slipcases. I like the lie-flat design of them, the capacity in the number of pages they can hold, and the slipcases should help the albums stay in good shape. Is there anything I should know about why these may or may not be good albums?

I also have learned that these albums don't use 8.5x11 size paper, but that their paper is 10x11.5. The larger size is nice as I can fit more stamps on a page, but my current printer won't print something oversized like that. I'm not averse to getting a new printer specifically for this project, so I am wondering, if anyone out there does print their own pages for this type of album, is there one you recommend? I was planning on getting blank Scott National pages, and so would need a printer that could also use the card stock material those pages are made of.

Appreciate any insight anyone might have, thanks!
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Posted 08/05/2020   1:30 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bluejay2 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I am moderately familiar with OpenOffice software. Given my familiarity, I chose to create my page layouts within OpenOffice's drawing module. Utilizing a laser printer, I print them on 8.5x11 card stock.

Personally, I have not researched alternative page sizes, nor album sizes, not other sizing options within the computer software (as it pertains to my album pages). I wish you great success with the project. I know that I find personally created album pages much more enjoyable than the preprinted pages.
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Posted 08/05/2020   2:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add uboatnut to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I love the Scott 3 ring binders (with the metal hinges) and slip cases. I converted my entire collection of 19 volumes to them and never looked back. Expensive, but worth it.

I make my own pages using the free AlbumEasy software. I print on 8x11 Mystic Blank Album pages, which are very close in color to Scott and have a pre-printed border. I looked into using Scott blank pages instead, but ultimately gave up the idea.

You need a wide format printer (about $250) to do so. Unfortunately, the print formats on WFPs are not infinitely adjustable but rather are pre-set for various paper dimensions (A3, A4, B4, etc.). So basically, I'm trying to trick the printer into thinking it's printing on B4 stock while the tray contains the shorter Scott page stock. The large bottom margin setting in the AlbumEasy software assures that the printer will not try to print on the extra (and non-existent) length of the supposed B4 paper. Since the paper trays in WFPs are fully adjustable, physically fitting any size stock into them is not an issue.

Wide format printers ( HP7740 and 7720) can take B4 paper, which is 257 x 364 mm (10.1 x 14.3 inches). This is as close as it gets to Scott album pages which are of the same width but shorter length (254 x 279mm = 10 x 11 inches). These AlbumEasy adjustments should make it possible to print AE custom pages on Scott album page stock.

Scott album page stock is fairly expensive - $8.00 for a package of 20 sheets. B4 paper stock is not carried by most U.S. office supply and stationary stores. B4 paper stock can be cut down from 11x17 inch stock by most commercial printers, for a small cutting fee ($10) + paper costs. A Scott border can be hand-drawn onto a B4 page, which can then be copied to a mass of blank B4 stock for draft runs before the final printing on the more expensive Scott pages.

I've been trying to find a WF printer that the reviews claim is reliable. Reviews on HP, Epson, and Brother are all mixed; lots of problems reported with all. Apparently, build quality and life expectancy have gone by the wayside with all manufacturers.

I've worked out the following adjustments, but don't have a wide format printer like the HP7740 on which to test them. I ran a test page off my printer using standard letter (8x11 inch 210x297mm) paper and the top and bottom margins looked to be OK when held up to a blank Scott page. The left and right margins also looked OK but would need to be confirmed on a wide format printer.


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Edited by uboatnut - 08/05/2020 3:44 pm
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Posted 08/05/2020   2:29 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add PMStamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I personally love the Scott 3 ring binders and slip cases. I have preprinted Scott pages for Canada, USA and Germany and while they cover most of the common types, additional pages are required for specialized, die, colour and perforation varieties to name a few. For those I use AlbumEasy and Scott blank pages on a Brother 11x17 printer. This works great and in a way I wish I could have printed the whole albums this way. However, the blank pages are not cheap and I have yet to find a commercially available blank paper product in the 60 lb. range that would be suitable.
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Posted 08/05/2020   4:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jkelley01938 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I use resume paper from Staples.

Jack Kelley
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Posted 08/06/2020   09:22 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mccune68 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Appreciate the responses!

Based on the very detailed post by uboatnut, I may be re-thinking my album choice. I didn't realize WFPs wouldn't just use arbitrarily sized paper, and that you'd have to trick AlbumEasy to make that work. I think I am leaning more towards Lighthouse albums, I just really like their look. I read through the Album Review thread in this forum and I like what I saw about those there. A lot of the issues people had with Lighthouse albums seemed to be with their printed pages, and so that's not an issue for me as I'll be printing my own.

I think I would need the Vario G 3 ring binder if I wanted to use standard 8.5 x 11 paper that a standard printer would accept, correct? Based on what folks had to say about 3 ring binders, that they are more apt to have the page holes tear, their 13 ring binders handle this issue better. But I would need the larger sized Lighthouse pages for that type of binder, right?

I have requested a Lighthouse catalog, so I'm hoping it gives me more details on their albums.
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Posted 08/06/2020   09:40 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If you're using Lighthouse album pages -

https://www.nordfrim.com/accessories/blank-sheets

you'll need Lighthouse binders of the turnbar, ring or springback type, not the Grande, Vario or other binders

https://www.nordfrim.com/accessories/albums
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Posted 08/06/2020   09:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BwanaBob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I was using Album Easy for a while but have gone back to just designing my own pages in Microsoft Word. I mimic the layouts and design feel of White Ace, but I always hated that they separated "regular issue" from "commemoratives". They are together in my versions. Also, I add the Scott number and price at time of issue to the description under each stamp. I never understood the concept of putting the Scott number inside the square for the stamp, where it is consigned to darkness once the stamp is obtained. Sometimes I look over my collection and its nice to see the Scott number at all times. Also, I have broke with White Ace's editorial policy on what is and what isn't a souvenir sheet, probably being more in sync with Scott editorial policies. And I too like to collect individual stamps from any se-tenant issue.

Another advantage of my own designs is that the USPS, for better or for worse, has gotten into a rut over their annual release programs and quite often I can copy a page from the previous year and just change the text, leaving the stamp square layouts alone. There's almost always a new Priority and Express Mail issue, a Lunar New Year, New Love and a new Black Heritage stamp early each year. They invariably wind up on the same page. So 2018's page 1 and 2019's page 1 layouts are pretty much clones.
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Posted 08/06/2020   11:55 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Philazilla to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I was in your exact situation a few years ago - And I collect pretty much the same as you - US in as many varieties as I can find. I am MUCH happier with my own pages than using a pre-printed album. I redesign pages when I get new material. . .and now I do not worry about how a new item would fit. I do go through a lot of mounts and more paper than I thought I would, but I am very happy with the organization of my stamps now.

I design my pages in Adobe InDesign. I print them on 8.5x11 off-white card stock. The stamps are all mounted with split-back black mounts. I keep the pages in high-quality 3-ring binders with slipcases. For what you (or I) are collecting, you do not need larger pages.

I had the mystic albums and quickly found them to be very beginnerish and I did not like the clear mounts. I moved on to Scott National Albums which are better with keeping se-tenants together and provides pages for coil pairs and singles unlike the Mystic albums which I think only has singles.
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Posted 08/06/2020   4:28 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Larger album pages look more elegant because they're less cluttered. I understand why a lot of people use the smaller 8.5 x 11 inch paper for their do-it-yourself albums. It's because that's the size that fits their printers and so on. To me, however, the result is always underwhelming.

I've had a lot of success photocopying Steiner page layouts (with the borders removed) onto Scott bordered album pages at Fedex. It gives me a beautiful looking larger album page that matches my other Scott bordered pages. I prefer the Specialty border, the fancier one, to the simpler National page border which looks too much like Steiner's fairly bland-looking page border. But the National border is okay. I also like to print the page layouts on quadrille pages which gives them a nice look. I like my album pages to look a little fancy and not too plain.

The smaller size Scott 3-ring binder is really nice. It holds about 100 pages and has a slipcase available. They're small enough to handle easily and not so big that they don't fit on my shelves. I have about 10 of them I've picked up over the years that I eventually plan to use for a few countries. I do not like Scott's large 3-ring binder, however. It's way too massive for my taste with those enormous rings and huge covers. It's so big, in fact, it won't fit on my bookshelves. It hangs off the front edge of the shelves which I don't like.

I've also had a lot of success with other album pages and albums, particularly the 22-ring albums and pages used in Europe and Britain. I've bought some Marini (Italy) 22-ring binders as well as some from Dauwalders Stamp shop online in the UK. They're very nice, and they sell 22-ring blank pages for them. The look is more attractive to me than the American 3-ring binder pages which look too much like schoolboy notebook pages and seem to rip more easily than 22 ring pages do. I also managed to find a 22-hole punch on eBay so I can punch my own pages if I need to, but mostly I just use the blank pages I have from these or other sources. The final look is really nice, more album-like than other options I think. The pages seem to turn more easily on multi-ring binders like these than 3-ring pages which often hang up on the rings and tear the holes. My experience anyway.

One source of both bordered and all-blank (no border) pages in the Scott Specialty/National album size is AlbumPages, a website that sells both printed Steiner pages and blank pages. They're fairly inexpensive and you can print on them yourself, obviously, which is what I've often done. Print shops can make pages in the right size, too. Getting the right color shade on the paper might not be easy, though. Even the AlbumPages color is a little different from the Scott page color, but not enough to bother me.

I have no printing advice since I either have AlbumPages print pages for me or I photocopy them. I don't even own a large-format printer, but I might try that one of these days, too. Good luck. Making your own pages and albums is an excellent way to personalize your collection.
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Posted 08/07/2020   05:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Many Scott (especially International) pages are just as "cluttered" with stamps as the smaller page albums especially in more modern era. Some are also two sided adding to the clutter. Larger page size can result in more white space but it is not always the case so cannot make accurate generalizations.

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Al
Edited by angore - 08/07/2020 05:52 am
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Posted 08/07/2020   3:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mccune68 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks again to everyone for the continued helpful comments. I'm still pretty torn on whether I want to use 8.5 x 11 or whether I want to jump to larger sized paper. I agree with you, DrewM, that the larger sized pages look better. This is something I have poured thousands of hours into over my life, I want the end result to look the best it can. But at the same time, the challenges of finding the right printer, the right blank pages, etc. keep pushing me back to sticking with that standard size.

I checked on Fedex's website and it looks like I can get the 100 or so pages I have mocked up already printed on 65lb ivory cardstock for just about $25. That may be the direction I am headed right now. Still going to keep doing my research, though.
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Posted 08/07/2020   5:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I suppose the other question is why you need toprint anything. Blank pages and a decent fountain pen will save a great deal of angst.
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Posted 08/07/2020   6:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mccune68 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I don't have the best penmanship in the world. I also prefer to have images of the stamp on the page.
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Posted 08/07/2020   6:20 pm  Show Profile Check KRelyea's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add KRelyea to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Drew what do you use to photo copy from? I am thinking of doing as you suggested but if I print out the page I want onto 8 1/2 X 11 white paper will it copy onto the Scott pages without the white showing?

Do they have trouble aligning the smaller page onto the larger Scott page?
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Posted 08/12/2020   8:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sorry to be so slow to reply to this! Ken, you're asking what I copy from, meaning I suppose what originals I use.

I use various originals depending on what "look" I want or what original pages I happen to have. Those could be old worn-out Scott Specialty or International pages that I can't replace any other way. Or Minkus or other pages. I sometimes mix different publishers' pages in the same album, but only as copies on the same size paper since otherwise would look messy.

For example, Scott no longer sells pages for some countries I collect. So I photocopy onto blank paper whatever old pages I can manage to find to make brand nw pages. Or old Minkus pages or whatever layout I want to use.

It doesn't matter what the size of the originals is, as far as I can see. The copier adjusts to fit that image on whatever size paper you're printing onto. It does this because on the copier touch screen you set the dimensions of the pages you're printing onto, 10 x 11.5" for Scott Specialty pages, for example. I've memorized that one. It asks you for various options, one of which is paper size, meaning the paper you're printing onto, not your originals.

If you used Bill Steiner's page layouts to print from, you'd print your originals from your Steiner files onto standard printer paper. The copying machine will then print from those page layouts (one by one) onto whatever size blank pages you're printing onto. They go in the larger paper hopper which, for me, is on the right side of the photocopy machines, not into the normal sized paper holders which you should pull out slightly to be sure they're disabled (or so they told me). If I get some shifting of the layout on the new pages I'm printing onto, I simply lay the originals on the glass slightly left or right, as needed. But that's not much of a problem as long as I enter the size of the blank pages I'm printing onto.

I print one page at a time so I can be sure everything's right and repeat that page if it's not.

I've printed 8.5 x 11" standard printer pages onto all-blank Scott Specialty size pages many times without any problem. They print whatever they see, including the original page's border. Lately, I've tried printing onto bordered Scott Specialty paper, as well. The trick here is you don't want to end up with two page borders! To prevent this, you can cut a template to cover up the existing border (with a big rectangular hole in the middle!) on the originals you're using. Each size of originals will need its own template, of course. I leave the template on the glass and add each new original page as I copy. It works fine.

Lately, though, I've started printing onto bordered Scott Specialty pages. These are "blank" pages but with a border. So you must print your page layout inside that border. With borders on the original pages, that's a bit hard to do. So I remove those borders using a PDF to Word conversion app that I save my Steiner files to. Just follow the directions.

https://lightpdf.com/pdf-to-word

They end up in Word, so I go through the new Word files and select and then delete each page border. One by one, but it goes quickly. Or make other changes. It doesn't take very long. Other collectors save from PDF to PowerPoint which allows them to delete all the borders at once (apparently) rather than page by page. But I've had some trouble with that.

Also in Word, for some countries which issue too many souvenir sheets or nonsense stamps, I just delete those stamp boxes. Problem solved. Play with the layouts in Word and see what you can do.

I print my borderless pages at home and then I print them onto my bordered Scott Specialty paper or whatever paper I want, Scott International, Minkus, and so on. What I end up are really good looking pages -- on the correct size paper -- with a border that matches the album I'm putting them into.

I have not tried this on Davo pages or Lighthouse or Schaubek, and so on, but I'm sure if the photocopy machine took that size paper, it would work. You might take some blank pages and ask at Fedex if that size will go through the machine okay. Specialty and International size pages do work just fine. If you do get a paper jam, it's because you forgot to set the page size of your originals at the beginning of the printing process where you set the parameters on the little touch screen. It took me awhile to learn to do this. You select "custom paper size" or something like that, then enter the width and length of the paper you're printing onto. So measure first or bring a ruler.

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Edited by DrewM - 08/12/2020 9:14 pm
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