The following article is reprinted from the March 2021 issue of The American Philatelist with permission from the American Philatelic Society:
Buying philatelic material is an important piece of the puzzle that is building your collection. But unless you plan on tripping over storage bins full of stamps until the end of days, choosing an album or other organization method is a high priority. Luckily, albums, stock books, binders, and other philatelic tools come in endless varieties, designed for every type of collector. Gary Lowe of the American Philatelic Society consulted with Paul Bartolomei of Palo Albums on how to choose the supplies that are right for you and your collecting style.
Gary: Selecting an album
Paul: Collectors have different needs to store their stamps. In addition to our own Palo albums, we carry the full line of Lindner and Davo albums. They are competitors in some ways, but they are complementary as well.
Gary: What are the differences between the three lines? Why might they appeal to different collectors?
Paul: There is no perfect album. Each collector wants to collect their own way. For example, Lindner and Davo, being European, do not follow the Scott catalog. And I’m not talking about Scott numbers, I’m talking about the layout of the albums. They follow the European catalogs. In the case of Lindner, they follow Michel catalog organization: regular issues, souvenir sheets, semi-postal and air post first, followed by the rest of the Back of the Book issues. Davo mixes regular and semi-postal issues first, then souvenir sheets, followed by air post and the rest of the BoB. Palo follows the Scott catalog. We have all the regular issues at the beginning of the album followed by all BoB. For Davo and Palo, we have an individual mount on our page for each stamp, whereas Lindner’s system is a bit different. They have a plastic overlay sheet attached to the paper page, so when you insert the stamps in this plastic overlay pocket, you can physically lift that plastic sheet and look at the back of the stamps. That’s another difference between the three systems. Lindner is probably the Mercedes Benz of stamp albums. The pages are thick, it’s just a top quality product.
Gary: I’m a Lindner guy myself and I use the T-blank system where I make my own pages.
Paul: That is a super system. If anybody has a specialized collection, that’s actually the best on the market. They have 80 different configurations of pages, so if you can’t find something for your area, you won’t find it anywhere.
Gary: If I’m a beginning collector, Lindner probably would not be my first choice, then.
Paul: No, I wouldn’t recommend Lindner for the first choice. There are many collectors out there that collect worldwide and they ask us what album to get. I tell everybody the same thing: you’re wasting your money. Select a few specific country albums. There’s no such thing as a truly worldwide album anymore. Those big album series don’t include pages for everything that’s issued. If you don’t want to specialize, then I would recommend stock books. Or if you want to get a little bit fancier use the T-Blank system and add custom pages as your collection grows. If you buy all the stamps from every country in the world on a yearly basis, it would probably cost you over $50,000.
Gary: Trying to buy albums for that, you wouldn’t afford the stamps.
Paul: Absolutely. Just as an example, hingeless pages in binders for every country in the world up to 1940 will cost you probably in excess of $20,000. You are looking at a lot of albums, a lot of money. It’s better to specialize.
Gary: When a collector outgrows their first album, how do you counsel them? What’s the selection process?
Paul: I usually tell them to specialize in the countries that interest them. Being realistic, nearly all of their stamps that are dated after 1905 are low value. So, limit the investment in albums to where the better stamps are found. I think the best way to approach collecting a country would be to buy a basic Country album from whichever company you prefer and then supplement that with that company’s blank pages for your specialized material. For example, in the case of a specialized collector, if you collect Germany, it would be good to have the Lindner Germany pages, but then use your T-Blank pages as supplements for your special material.
Gary: Let’s talk for a moment about the clients that you encounter in your segment of the market. Are they buying albums because they are adding a new collecting area or are there other reasons?
Paul: Well, we have a couple of scenarios here. We have the customer who is upgrading to a nicer album. And then we have existing customers who are adding a country. I put myself in that category because that’s how I used to do it myself. Of course, there are the yearly supplements, where we have the return customer. We also have the customer who just opts for stock books.
Gary: Can you talk a little bit about preserving your stamp collection?
Paul: The materials that are used in our company and every other company that I’m aware of are archival materials. Fifty years ago, it might have been a concern, but nowadays, it’s really not an issue. You’ll see some old albums have toned pages. That’s when you want to think about transferring to a new album. If you’re living in a tropical area, you want to make sure that temperature and humidity are controlled where you keep your stamps. High humidity areas will wreak havoc on your stamp collection, no question.