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January 10, 2011

My Philatelic Legacy–Or How To Display Grandpa’s Stamps

By RetroRuth

My great-grandfather accumulated a large stamp collection over his lifetime. And when I use the term “large”, it is like describing Big Ben as a “clock” or Facebook as “addictive.” I don’t think there are adequate descriptors to really convey to you exactly how many stamps are in the 10+ plastic totes in my basement.

So “large” is just going to have to cut it.

Stamps displayed in the Vatican

And what does one do with such a collection?  Well, not sell it. I love them and think they are terribly fascinating. Besides, stamp collecting has always been a popular pastime, but in the 1940’s and 1950’s there was a huge boom in stamp collecting, probably resulting from the preoccupation with mail caused by the large influx of mail soldiers sent home to their loved ones and received from them in return. Or maybe because it was “the fashionable thing” to collect.  In any case, most common stamps, even the older ones, are pretty much worth their face value. And then only as postage for a letter, not for collecting purposes.


I have tried to use them for crafting purpose.  I have really tried. But the thought of permanently affixing them to something that really isn’t that important to me gives me the willies.  I mean, my great-grandfather spent a long time collecting, cataloguing them, putting them in books and taking care of them. I should preserve them, too.

And not just preserve them, but be able to display them. Enjoy them. Discuss them with people who visit my house and notice them on the walls.  That isn’t too much to hope for, right?


So I have been scouring the blog-o-sphere, looking for ideas and ways to display stamps as artwork.  And not just as something glued to a greeting card and covered with glitter. A properly grouped, properly mounted piece of artwork. A conversation piece.


Anyone have any good links, or additional ideas?  I would love to hear about them!

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2 Responses to My Philatelic Legacy–Or How To Display Grandpa’s Stamps

  1. Cathie Reply

    January 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    First I have to tell you I read this post at work, and when I read the part about using stamps for craft I went *GAAAASP* and scared the people I work with. They thought I got really bad news….it was actually kind of funny when I was explaining.

    At any rate, whooo where to start. First I *totally* understand the huge stamp collecting, my father is a very avid collector.

    My initial advice is to see if you can get them, or some of them appraised. For value, and history, rarity etc. IF there are ones that are highly valuble, I’d get a good protector/book for them and keep them there. Mostly so they dont’ get damaged by sunlight or air/condensation.

    If you want to display them, make sure to get good paper, acid free I think it is–I’d have to double check with my father–and a a frame/glass that helps to protect them. Also do NOT glue or hinge them (where you glue the top portion to paper)

    Call around to various stamp dealers and see if they appraise, how much it costs and get references for them too. Some are good, some are shady and well, you just cant’ be too carefull.

    Also, just so you know, if a stamp is valued at say $10, it’s going to depend on the condistion of the stamp. But also just because it’s valued at $10, if you sold it, you’d probably only get $6 or $7 for it.

    If you want to have a stab at it yourself, there is a series of books called the Scotts Catologues that lists every stamp ever and it’s value. (at least thats the way I understand it) It’s sort of the bible of stamp collecting. You should be able to find it at your local library, which is a better option than buying–I think the whole set is about $900.

    And please Feel free to email me ( frothie51 (at) gmail dot com) and I can pass on questions to my father. If you want to sell any, or even have someone look them over I’m sure he’d be happy to help you there too. (Although I seriously dont’ know where he’d put even just one more stamp!!)

    I hope this helps and hope to hear from you


  2. RetroRuth Reply

    January 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the info, Cathie! I am taking some of the stamps into a local stamp shop that does apprasials, and seeing what they think about them and if they have any suggestions for framing. Thanks for all the info! 🙂

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