Should you hinge your stamps? Customers ask me all of the time how to mount their stamps.

First of all, there is a difference between mint and used stamps.

If you have mint stamps, like it or not, the philatelic community prefers stamps with pristine gum. If youíre concerned about monetary value, donít hinge your stamps. Sorry, but hinged stamps are worth less than never hinged stamps. I donít set market demand; I just follow it.

However, if you have very inexpensive mint stamps and youíre not worried about what your collection is worth, why not? You donít have to buy expensive mounts for your mint stamps.

Used stamps typically donít have gum on them. Hinging them is fine. It doesnít affect the value.

Here are some problems I see with using hinges.

First of all, almost no one is producing them. Prinz still makes hinges and as far as I know, they are the only ones.

Second, hinges are sometimes hard to remove. You hear older collectors lament about Dennison hinges (Dennison was a company a long time ago. They were bought out and no longer in business). Their hinges easily peeled away from the stamp. In my experience, the hinges made today donít peel as easily.

Third, hinges can be a problem when you mount stamps on both sides of the album pages. The perforations of the stamps on the back page tend to snag on the perforations of the stamps on the front of the next page. If you only mount stamps on the one side of an album page, youíre fine. But if you mount stamps on both sides of the album page, they can catch on one another and possibly tear other stamps.

Fourth, I would not use hinges for valuable stamps. The stamp is wide open because the hinge provides no protection. And when removing a hinge, there is a chance you could damage the stamp.

And lastly, with hinges, unless youíre using black pages, itís a little difficult to see the perforations of the stamps when they are next to a white album page. The stamp kind of blends in to the page and really isnít set off.

Honestly, hinges versus acetate mounts doesnít change the value of a collection at all. Because when I buy an album of stamps, I base my offer on the stamps only. The person Iím going to sell it to is probably going to remove the stamps from the album and put them in their album. Therefore, the hinges or mounts are going to be useless and probably thrown out once the new owner has gleaned all of the stamps from the album pages and disposes the old album.

I use black acetate mounts for all of my stamps in my collections. Yes, the mount sometimes costs more than the stamp it is holding, but that is just my personal preference.

The bottom line is to use whatever you like. There is nothing wrong with using hinges on inexpensive stamps, especially if they are used stamps. Be careful if using hinges when the stamps face each other on the fronts and backs of album pages. Otherwise, hinges are just fine if you like them. Donít let anyone else tell you differently.