Many stamp enthusiasts may wonder whether or not it is better to use a hinge to mount a stamp in their album or not. Hopefully this article will be useful in helping you make the right decision. First of all, what is a hinge? It is a very small piece of rectangular paper that is folded over about a quarter of the way down, and coated with a mild gum. The short, folded over section is applied to the back of a stamp, and the longer end affixed to the album or storage page. Older stamp hinges often had such strong glue used on them so as to make the eventuality of removing the stamp from its hinge either very difficult or impossible without damaging the gum on the back of the stamp and leaving a mark. Modern hinges however, are of much better quality than their predecessors, often referred to as «peelable».
What are the issues involved in making a decision? Most collectors would agree that using hinges for common, less valuable stamps is not a problem. The controversy arises when speaking of valuable, rare stamps which are in mint condition. In the middle of the 1900’s, with collecting on the rise, the demand for older, mint stamps which were «never hinged» increased. In general, the value is doubled for a mint, never hinged stamp versus a hinged one. So, when buying one of these stamps, obviously a collector wants to store it without resorting to the use of a hinge. The best way is either using stamp mounts or stock books.
We shouldn’t be too quick to condemn the use of hinges though. In the past, it was the most common and inexpensive way to store stamps, and many experts agree that we probably wouldn’t have many early stamps from the 19th Century still around today if they hadn’t been securely stored with hinges. With older mint stamps which are graded as never hinged, it would be wise to carefully examine the back of the stamp to make sure it hasn’t been regummed to hide an old hinge mark.
If you do decide to use hinges, be sure to apply them properly. Don’t soak the hinge, as this might damage the stamp. It may also be better to apply light moisture to the hinge with a cotton swab instead of licking it, as you can better control exactly where you moisten it. Lastly, purchase good quality glassine hinges, such as the Uni-Safe hinges.
It is ok to use hinges on lower value used or mint hinged stamps, but never on mint never hinged stamps as you will diminish its value in half. Also to better protect your investment, use stamp mounts or stock books.
Related post: Protect your stamps with stamp mounts!
7 thoughts on “To hinge or not to hinge…”
Licking hinges might introduce some interesting stuff to the hinge and maybe the stamp from saliva. Who knows?
Thank you for this reaffirmation on the use of hinges. I use them for my used and MH stamps but must admit I was beginning to doubt whether I should be using them at all. The expense of stamp mounts often goes beyond the value of the used or MH stamp. I have wondered about Terry’s comment above. As I remove stamps from old albums and replace the old hinge with my own, I often wonder if there is a risk of germ exposure….
To answer Tom’s doubt about germ exposure. Even though I have no medical background, I believe that by the time you remove the old hinge the germs are long time dead, due to a lack of nutrient. But if some of you want to take extra care, I recommend the use a little wet office sponge instead of your tongue.
I have read with interest the posts on using stamp hinges as I am newly returned to stamp collecting. I am reluctant to use stamp mounts for the simple reason that I believe the hinge mounted stamp looks much better on the album page and I can see the actual stamp. Mounts seem to dull the perceived image and colour of the stamp. They also bulk up the album more as their use adds two more surfaces to the page thickness. Way back I had no problem with hinges as those I used were truly peelable and left barely any hint of their use on stamp or page when removed. Is it possible to still get such truly peelable hinges? (I live in the UK). As others here have said the expense of mounts for used or previously hinged mint stamps is hard to justify and it is only the relatively recent demand among collectors for unhinged mint specimens that has promoted the use of stamp mounts. I shall read with interest other collectors’ views on this subject.
All of my mint stamps are purchased with a margin. I fold the margin under the stamp and put the hinge on it. This way I still have an unmounted mint stamp. Works for me!