December 27, 2015 at 8:50 am #134313
Two questions, we have a very large collection of stamps, all same donor, most are loose as the donor never got around to mounting them. How does one catalog them? Second question, how does one store them safely? thanks
December 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm #134314MaliaParticipant
If this is for a museum collection, you may want to catalog each mounted group of stamps (like a scrapbook) and each loose stamp at the item level, each with a unique object number. This will give you the ability to note condition and add photographs of each to a collections management system. It will also make it easier for researchers and curators to identify items they are most interested in, run and sort reports. If the stamps are in an archive, you could arrange and describe at the collection level, if your resources don’t permit item level description.
The stamps can be stored in clear polyester (Mylar) sleeves like you would use for photographs. You could also use polyethylene or polypropylene for storage. It is important to maintain cool and dry conditions like you would for other paper based materials, but controlling humidity is critical so the adhesives don’t activate.
Hope this helps,
December 28, 2015 at 1:56 pm #134315
Thanks Malia, are stamps considered Museum or Archival material? I may have to start with the collection level description (provenance and extent) then later item level. I know who they all came from and who collected them but we are talking literally hundreds of loose stamps. The material is being transferred to another institution for storage so I have to decide whether to hold this part of the collection back until an item level description is made or send it as is with a series level description. Either way I look at it, it is going to be a long term project! (that should have been done almost 25 years ago)
December 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm #134316MaliaParticipant
Whether you treat this collection as Museum or Archive material will depend on your scope of collections statement and collections management policy. I worked at a historic house museum where all the accessioned collections were treated as objects, including menus, stationery, invitations, envelopes and a few stamps. It would have been simpler to have an Archive to handle a stationery set with over 600 items!
Best of luck with your project.
December 28, 2015 at 2:26 pm #134317
That is how our collections had been handled up until this year and I decided to divide the collection into Artefacts, Library and Archives. I think the stamps will be considered archival as our Management Policy doesn’t define what material is what but they seem to fit more into the archival definetion. I have recently written an archival policy that will be adopted in 2016 that will help us as we go further. Thank you for your advice!
January 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm #134345Rebecca KennedyParticipant
I’m from the National Postal Museum and I can happily help you organize your collection. If they are random stamps with no order established by the donor we usually arrange them by Scott numbers (http://www.scottonline.com/) as this is the easiest way to find stamps for collectors, especially if you don’t want to accession them down to the item level. Each stamp has it’s own unique Scott number so it’s a great identifier to add to a database as well for reference. Then we will store them in glassine or mylar enclosures or, if they are going to be regularly accessed, in stock books with dust covers. This prevents the risk of damage of them being constantly removed from enclosures. Also easy to flip through. If there is friable material (pencil or stamp ink) on the stamps not always safe to put in glassine or mylar. For cataloging, when we go to the item level, you can go the traditional route if it’s just in envelopes like .1-.1000, but if the are in stock book pages or album pages we note the album page (such as .1) and then count the stamps on that page (.1-.200), so your number would look like 2016.20010.1.20 (.1 being the page and .20 being the 20th stamp on the page). That way if it’s ever separated from the album you know where to put it back. This has come in handy soooo many times. Here is a link to our preservation page for more info, but please let me know if we can be of more help! http://postalmuseum.si.edu/collections/preservation/index.html
January 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm #134346
Thanks Rebecca! Great advice and I think I did go to your website for ideas but thank you for simplifying it for me. I will definitely be following your advice and thank your for your offer of help. It sou7nds like a good summer student/intern project for us.
January 14, 2016 at 2:01 am #134363LissaParticipant
I have a quick question, Evelyn. What does your current accessioning/ cataloging numbering system look like? Unless stamps are primarily what you have, even if there are a lot of them, it’s a good idea to maintain the numbering system you already have or to use the field standard for your institution.
If you want to comply with the current museum standard of year-number of accession, your stamps might be cataloged like 2016-1-2 so that:
2016- year the item is donated
1- the first (or whatever) item or group of items accepted at the same time in the year
2- the number of stamp in the collection (whatever order is fine but it would make sense to do all of the stamps in an album consecutively and in order of the albums if the albums are chronological or some other order; add loose stamps either before or after all of the stamps in the albums have gotten numbers, whether you choose to house them mounted together or not).
The Scott number is important but could screw up your accessioning system because it uses a system of numbers and letters, including capitals. Try to not use letters if you’re cataloging for a museum because it would indicate possibly multiple broken parts of a whole object. Whatever database you’re using may have a field for “other numbers”. This is where I generally add serial numbers, numbers on the artifact related to a collection it may used to have belonged to, anything that could have research significance, or help to keep track of it through time.
Hope this helps!
January 14, 2016 at 6:15 am #134364
Hi Lissa, we do use the traditional numbering system. The stamps are part of a very large collection so my numbering system would take them one step further. For example M90.24.1500.1, the stamp collection would be broken down into .1, .2 etc. I will probably go that route. Thanks for the heads up about the Scott system and the “other number” field. Will use that too. Evelyn
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