How To Store Your Stamps Right

Not every time it is possible to "cure" the "sick" stamp. It is easy to conclude, that instead of a difficult and sometimes futile "medical" procedures, it is a lot better to make the emphasis on the prevention. The good collector is always doing his best not to allow any mechanical and chemical damages of his stamps. If the stamps are stored properly, if the collector is handling them expertly and carefully, then he can keep this stamp for decades and they will still be pleasing the eye of their owner with their fresh and "healthy" looks.


stamp album


Depending on the production, paper has a different moisture level. Humidity of the paper, that is normally used for stamps, is about 7%. But the paper still has the ability to absorb moisture from the atmosphere or, alternatively, to give it away, depending on the humidity level of the environment. Like any other organic materials, cellulose is oxidized in the open air (this process is relatively slow, but we must not forget about it).

The aging of the paper is an inevitable process, too much of a light will even make it faster and - in addition - it also leads to the over-drying of paper and fading of many colors. If, however, there will be created some favorable conditions for storing the stamps, it can significantly slow down the aging of paper, completely eliminate the appearance of a dangerous fungus and prevent fading of  colors. It is clear that at home it might be quite difficult or even impossible to provide the philatelic materials with the optimum moisture and temperature level. But every philatelist should know the basic parameters of this regime and strive to maintain it in the desired range.

The temperature in the room where the stamps are stored (this applies to other philatelic materials also) should be within 15 - 21 °C, relative humidity 50 - 65%. When the moisture level is less than 50%, the paper and the glue are both drying out and become more brittle, and the humidity level higher than 65% is creating the favorable conditions for bacteria. Stamps should be kept away from all sorts of heaters. Musty, stale air, smoke, dust, vapors of naphthalene are also bad for the paper and ink, so the stamps in any case can not be stored in the wardrobes. The room should be aired regularly and cleaned with the vacuum cleaner. In the room where you store your stamps, you should not cook food, wash and dry clothes. It is undesirable to keep there any large aquariums and indoor plants, in the rainy and overly humid weather the ventilation should not be long. Even coughing and sneezing on the stamp is impossible - the saliva droplets falling on the stamp, may contribute to the growth of fungus. Some researchers believe that a certain amount of bacteria already in the process of production will be left on the paper and glue and they are just "waiting" for the favorable conditions to grow.

Stamp albums should be stored only in the upright position (just like books on the shelves), they should not be strongly pressed against each other, in any case it is not good to put them over each other. If this is done, the stamps may stick together, stick to the sheets, the album strips may spoil your stamps, etc. In addition, such a storage is not letting your stamps to "breathe." And they need to breathe, because otherwise the paper will loose it's elasticity. Stamp albums and folders with the philatelic materials must be at least once a month "aired", their pages must be leafed. However, for the novice philatelists it is not necessary to remind, they are turning over their stamp-albums much more frequently. But even those who have much more, than just one stamp-album, they too should give their stamps some air, for that they have to put their stamp-album for 20 - 30 minutes on the table, opening the pages.

Like any items brought from the cold into a warm room, stamps "mist", and if you bought a stamp to your house in winter, than  before it will be placed in a stamp-album, you should keep it in a room for about half an hour, turning it from time to time with the tweezers in order to evaporate the excess moisture. To make sure that the stamp is not glued, it is better to sprinkle the talcum powder on the adhesive side with a soft brush or rub it with a clean dry finger (if you want, talk is easy to remove with the clean flannel). It should be exactly talc, not a baby powder and not a starch instead, and certainly not in any way a tooth powder or some cosmetic powder, which contain substances harmful to the stamp.


stamp book


For a more secure storage of the philatelic materials, to prevent their damage or "diseases", it is better to use a bookcase, that can be well closed. If you can not select an individual case, it is possible to locate your philatelic materials on one or two shelves of the bookcase, because the measures, taken for the "life extension" of your stamps will be also very useful for your books. Glass doors of the bookcase should be tightened with the dark thick cloth for the direct light not to fall on the stamp-album, especially the light of the sun. You should not lean the bookcase against the wall, between them there should be a distance of at least 5 - 10 centimeters. Bookcase doors must be sealed with the strips of sponge, gluing them with the adhesive. In case of the excess humidity, the bookcase should be periodically dried and vacuumed very well. If the room is too dry, then on the bottom shelf of the bookcase you can put a jar of water. In the summer time, when the level of humidity is slightly increasing, those jar should be covered with the stretched cheesecloth (two or three layers) to reduce the evaporation.

Stamp-albums (as well as books), sometimes are attacked by a bookworm, that is gnawing through a small round holes in the bounds and is able to go through the entire thickness of the book or album unit, causing irreparable harm to the stamps. For prevention, it is necessary once a year, completely freeing the bookcase, to spray it internally and externally from the side of the rear wall with the insecticidal agent.

All these precautions should not scare away the novice philatelists. In practice, most of the stamps rarely get sick. Any experienced philatelist has many stamps, which are more than 100 years old, but they still look like new.


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