Stamp collecting is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. In order to display and present your stamps to their best advantage, you must properly organize your stamp collection.
Choose the Focus for Your Stamp Collection
Start to organize your stamp collection by deciding which type of collection you would like to have. There are many ways to collect and organize stamps, based on different characteristics of the stamps, personal interests and preferences.
Know the different classifications of stamp collections from which you can choose, such as traditional (one country's stamps), worldwide (stamps from around the world), topical (stamps featuring topics such as animals or flowers), specialist (specific types of stamps or stamp issues) or first-day covers (an envelope sent the day the stamp was released, containing a first-day cancel used only on that day).
Understand that stamps are classified in several ways. These classifications include type such as definitive, commemorative or special, condition such as mint, unused or used, format such as sheet, coil or booklet, and purpose such as regular, special delivery, postage due and airmail.
Identify, Organize and Display Your Stamp Collection
Sort your stamps according to the focus, category or organization of your collection. Stamps are often sorted by country, topic, original usage, date of issue, type (such as definitives, commemoratives or special) and denomination.
Use a stamp catalog to identify the stamps you have collected, so you can be sure to categorize them properly. Stamp catalogs list descriptions and prices of stamps, and selected stamps are also pictured. There are four main brands of stamp catalogs: Stanley Gibbons, Scott, Michel and Minkus, as well as national catalogs released by individual countries.
Place stamps in a stamp album to display, preserve and protect your stamp collection. There are several different types of albums available to collectors, including commercially preprinted albums with corresponding pictures for each stamp, stock-books with plastic sleeves on each page, and handmade pages created at home by the collector himself.
Consider using stamp collecting software to organize and catalog your stamp collection. Most of these programs are basically spreadsheets that allow you to enter detailed information on each stamp into separate fields which can then be viewed as customized reports.
The best way to organize stamps that you have yet to put into albums is by putting different categories into acid-free glassine envelopes, which protect the stamps while allowing you to view their contents. Most local libraries have stamp catalogs on their shelves, so check there first before you buy.