When I used to collect stamps, I always wanted hingeless albums. But that was because I was impatient and in a rush to put my newly acquired stamps in albums. Eventually, I reached a point where I couldn’t find hingeless albums for the countries I wanted to collect (by the way, this is how Palo Albums was started). So I opted for regular pages and started cutting my own mounts. I became very good at it after a while and was able to considerably speed up the process over a short period of time.
On the other hand, I was never totally happy with the quality of my mounting. Every now and then, a mount would be crooked or cut too small. No matter how hard I tried, I could always see the difference between my work and a professional hingeless album. So I continued buying hingeless whenever I could and regular when I couldn’t.
This worked for my collecting needs. But all of us are different. What works for one is not necessarily ideal for another. There are pros and cons in purchasing regular or hingeless albums. If you are not precision oriented, cutting your own mounts may turn into a nightmare. I’ve seen some mounted stamp collections that I just want to throw in the trash can; mounts for square stamps that are cut in trapezoid shapes, a set of 5 identically sized stamps in 3 different sized mounts, or a combination of black and clear mounts on the same page.
But if you are precise, you can save quite a bit by doing your own mounting. We did a study a while back to determine the cost of regular versus hingeless albums. If you buy our regular pages and packs of mount strips, we calculated you can save about 20% to 30% over the cost of our hingeless albums. You then need to calculate your time to cut and attach the mounts. However, in my opinion, time spent is irrelevant as I discovered that when I was cutting my own mounts, I was spending more time with my stamps - which is what the hobby is all about.
That’s not to say you can’t spend time with hingeless albums too. What I really enjoyed about these albums was the ability to quickly fill them up and then go back and admire each page. I’ve always believed that stamps should be looked at in an organized manner. If you collect coins, they may be in slabs or coin holders and then tucked away in bank vaults. If I’m collecting something, I want to look at it often. And what better way is there for that than a great looking album?
I think that, in general, one would rather have a hingeless album, but in the end it may just come down to cost. They are not cheap. However, if you collect classic USA stamps, you can theoretically put $20,000 worth of stamps on just one page. At that point, the cost of the album is moot.
In summary, your selection should depend on:
Whatever you decide, also think long-term. You want to be sure to enjoy your stamps for years to come. If it is merely a short term investment, just put your stamps in stock books. But for a quality collection, top notch organization and beauty can increase your collection’s worth immeasurably.