Note: we will be gradually updating this site to include discussion of not just stamps, but other paper based collectibles, including baseball cards, comic books, and art prints. Even though the pages on this site may presently discuss only stamps as a hobby, be assured the concepts apply to all rare paper based collectibles.
Begin your philatelic care explorations with a bright and illuminating statement ....
If you lower your lights, protection of your stamps, baseball cards, comics, and paper based art increase by a factor of , or even more.
Need proof? ... mouse over the stamp below and view an example of the damage you may be subjecting your philatelic, stamp, and art collectibles to.
(place your mouse over me)
Are you interested in protecting your stamp, baseball card, or comic book collection from the type of damage the stamp above has experienced?
Do you want to increase the value or rarity of your collection, stamps, comic books, baseball cards, or even Stamp Art?
The pages that follow provide stamp, baseball card, and comic book collectors with easy (and some not so easy) steps that can be taken to preserve the contents of their stamp albums.
Let's consider the two Scott 121b stamps shown at the right. Can you determine which of them in 2002/2003 sold for $9000 and which sold for $40,000. Might some of the disparity in price be due to the fading that one of the stamps suffered via its exposure to light?
By reducing exposure of your philatelic items, and other light susceptible items, to light, you can take your first step toward increasing their rarity and value ... not just via an increased likelihood that your care will help preserve them longer into the future (i.e. their rarity) but, as well, via the reduced damage your philatelic items will sustain over this same period of time (i.e. the rarity of their condition).
The images on this and other pages of this web site are meant to give the associated text "real world" meaning; but be forewarned ... to fully appreciate their meaning, you will need to devote more time than just a cursory review of the accompanying subject matter.
Let's begin with:
a summary of techniques you can implement to preserve your stamps, philatelics, baseball cards, comic books and other paper based art collections:
1. Use only the amount of VISIBLE light that is necessary for comfortable viewing of your baseball card, comic book, art and philatelic and stamp collections; typical office/room/exhibition illumination should be avoided. First easy steps that you can take include: lower the wattage of the room lights used in your collection viewing area, and use of lamp and window shades to block any direct exposure to light that may be present (see Philatelic effects of VISIBLE Light for more detail).
2. Mimimize exposure of your comic book, baseball card, art and stamp treasures to ultraviolet light, by which we mean, not only to the UV light present in normal room illumination, but particularly to the high intensity light of UV lamps that are used for philatelic authentication and expertization. Just as in step 1 above, to reduce UV light induced damage you can lower the wattage of your room lights and use lamp and window shades (see Effects of UV Light on items of Philately for more detail).
3. Use only alkaline buffered ISO 9706 certified paper products to store and display your baseball card, comic book, art and philatelic stamp collections. (see Philatelic Effects of Paper for more detail). Baseball card, comic book, and philatelic paper products and stamp albums that are "pH neutral" and "acid free" WILL NOT stop the acidic degradation that philatelic items are inherently subject to and, therefore, should not be used for long term paper based and stamp storage and care. For stamps,don't forget that stamp hinges are a form of paper also, and that the vast majority of stamp hinge products are acidic, which will damage any collectible you use them with.
4. Use only PET "Mylar ®" polyester archival grade plastics. Do not use plastic holder or plastic mounts that use UV inhibitors or UV coatings to archive and protect your paper based collections. All types of plastic, other than PET "Mylar ®" polyester archival grade plastics expose your paper collectibles to future, if not immediate. (see further Effects of Plastic on Stamps for more detail).
5. If you choose to encapsulate or encase (slab) your baseball cards, comic books or or stamps, you should do so with the understanding that a harmful "micro-climate" may become formed within the encapsulating plastic or glass material that is used. The sealed environment that is formed within such slabs can under many conditions accelerate harmful chemical processes that are inherent to the organic matter that your paper based comic, baseball card, and philatelic stamp collectibles are made from. Always ensure that encapsulated comics, baseball cards, and philatelic stamps are provided with a means by which they can be regularly ventilated.
6. Store and display your comic, baseball card, and stamp and philatelic collections under as steady an environmental condition as possible, preferably at about 68 degrees F and between 30-55 % relative humidity (RH) (see Effects of Temperature and Humidity on Stamps for more detail). As with encapsulated stamps, comic book, baseball card, and philatelic stamps stored in albums should be periodically ventilated.
7. Store and display your comic, baseball card, art, philatelic, and stamp collections in as pollutant or pollution free environment as possible (i.e. sans smog, cigarette smoke, ozone, incense ...)
8. For stamps, minimize, and preferably eliminate, exposure of your stamps to the residues of watermark fluids, cleaning fluids, tap water, archival sprays and other chemistry experiments you may be tempted to inadvertently perform on them. Use of these common used stamp procedures WILL leave residues that cause degrading reactions that over time WILL build up and WILL damage your philatelic and stamp collections.
9. Keep in mind that in particular, stamps are as fragile as art; treat your stamps and philatelic collections accordingly.
Can failure to follow steps 1-9 affect the future value of your baseball card, comic book, stamp or art collection?
Let's consider this question in the context of the Marilyn Monroe stamp. Although the Marilyn Monroe stamp is arguably aesthetic, it is of such high mintage and recent vintage that its history, rarity, and value is considered by some to be of little importance.
However, imagine, if you will, that Marilyn (the stamp) might somehow be transported to a time in the past, say to the year 1928. If you consider the return journey Marilyn might take to the present from this past, it might not be so much different from that of the relatively high mintage 1928 Scott #646 stamp shown below.
Recent examples of the #646 have experienced a many hundred fold increase in their catalogue value. Why is this relatively common stamp so expensive ($2300 was one auction sales price)? Could it be because of its rarity ... by which we mean the rarity of its state of philatelic preservation, which includes the condition of its gum, paper, ink, centering, and countless other attributes that now grace its owner's stamp album. Whatever the reasons for the recent exponential increases in value of many of the condition rarities (like the Scott #646), in no small part the philatelic care and stamp care topics we discuss on the following pages will have played an important part.
Now consider, if you will, how during its journey from the past to the present, the Marilyn Monroe stamp could survive to be a condition rarity as is the Scott #646 stamp above. Equivalently, consider a journey of the Marilyn Monroe stamp 60 years into the future. During its journey, will the Marilyn Monroe stamp be somehow treated to lose its beautiful blue color and/or some other valued attribute (i.e. via failure to use proper philatelic preservation techniques)? Or will Marilyn be treated with the consideration and care that is asked for by this web site, such that it will someday be valued equally with the Scott #646 stamp? Both Marilyn and the other stamps in your collection await your answer.
A final comment before you visit our other pages:
The amount of cumulative illumination (in lux) that many of (y)our philatelic treasures have been exposed to in the past, and continue to be exposed to in the present, cannot be beneficial to the health or future of (y)our hobby. Whether deliberately, or from ignorance, (y)our actions may be placing (y)our present and future ability to study and enjoy (y)our collections at risk. With regard to items of particular aesthetics, history, and value, it is incumbent upon you to minimize exposure of your philatelic, comic book, baseball cart, and art items to VISIBLE light. Failure to do so will cause their eventual demise, sooner than later!
As you explore other pages on this web site, consider if there is at least one small step you might be able to take to benefit your baseball card, art, comic book or stamp collection, and in the process yourself.
Remember: the preservation and care of paper based collections and stamps in particular cannot occur without your active participation.
Next Page: Care of Stamps