Over the years, My biggest concern is not about getting stamps but rather keeping them. Surprise? I guess not if you are living in a country with high humidity like Malaysia. It is definitely a BIG BIG challenge for me as its never easy to fight mother nature.
There are really two main reasons why collectors go to great lengths to keep their stamps in the best condition possible. The main reason is a fact we cannot deny; stamps are valued with regards to its condition. A toned stamp or a missing perf can drastically decrease the value of a stamp. Secondly, its never a good feeling to have an imperfect stamp in your collection. You can ask any philatelist or collector. we all feel the same. However, please take note that we cant always get the best possible condition when it comes to classics but mind you we will always try our best.
Keeping stamps in a tropical country isn't easy at all due to its high humidity. There are a few key points we need to adhere to ensure that our stamps remains in the highest of quality.
1. Always use Stamp Tongs
As philatelist/collector, using Stamp Tongs has definitely become second nature but there are times when we need to use our hands. e.g. to separate a single stamp from a sheet. Human skin is coated with some oily residue and not even a good hand wash could reduce the oil. The biggest problem starts when the oil is transfered to our precious stamps; toning and spots start to appear. Definitely a nightmare.
2. Always use quality stock sheets/books/mounts
Renowned brands like lighthouse, hagner and prinz should be use to keep our stamps as they are non toxic and ensures the stamp stays fresh. Though expensive, they are worth the deal. As for me, stock sheets and books are rather hard to come by, hence I decided to use Prinz stamp mounts. I prefer the transparent mount over the black ones as it easier to check the gummed side of mnh stamps. Yes, I have to agree that black mounts look better.
3. In humid countries, it is advisable to store stamps in air tight box
Yup, air tight box are essential. we can always use air tight tupperware with silica gel. Always ensure you use colour silica gel; pink means it needs to be change.
4. Glassine Envelopes - Another favorite
Glassine envelopes are definitely a favorite among philatelist/collectors but they have proven not to be too reliable over a very long period of time. So, be careful...
5. OPP plastic is a cheaper alternative
Another cheaper but proven alternative is to use OPP plastic. However, please make sure you get your OPP supply from the right place as other type of plastic can do much harm to your collection.
6. Be creative with Dry Box
Another very reliable alternative would be to keep your stamps in a dry box. Dry box are rather expensive but its really reliable. Dry boxes are usually used for storing cameras but its a great for keeping stamps also. Fingers cross, hope to get at least one of those. LOL
7. Avoid exposing your stamps to sunlight and dust
Stamps and albums should always be kept out of direct sunlight and away from dust. Storing stamps in a cabinet with a door is one way to accomplish both of these goals. Special album slipcases are available from some album manufacturers to further protect the stamps inside. Sunlight often fade the colors of stamps and normally causes another heated argument on whether the stamp is genuinely has a faded color or its just mother nature's working. Guess I better bring this to yet another discussion. Should be an interesting one.
8. Controlled Room - The Ultimatum
This I would say is the ultimatum. A controlled room is a room dedicated to keep your stamps with 24/7 air conditioned environment. There is usually no windows and sophiscated machine that drys the humid air.
This are just a few ways to ensure our stamps stays in the best possible shape. I'm sure everyone will have their own unique way to protect their precious little jewels. I really hope to hear from all of you as this is certainly one of the most discussed topic in philately.