Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spotlight - Stamp Albums Web

Stamp Albums Web

Most collectors quickly come to the realization that in order to house their stamps they will need to purchase one or more stamp albums. Depending on whether you want to collect all the stamps of one country, or all the stamps of the world, stamp albums come at a price -- a price that seriously depletes our stamp collecting budgets. Enter Bill Steiner's Stamp Albums Web site.

Since 2001, Stamp Albums Web has provided a very affordable alternative to expensive stamp albums. Bill Steiner, owner of the site, has created a series of album pages that you can download and print yourself, freeing yourself up from costly albums and extravagant shipping fees. And the cost is the best part. More on this later.

Stamp Albums Web houses two primary sets of stamp pages. The first collection is a set of pre-1940 (also known as the Classic stamp collecting period) album pages. With this set you have space for all major stamps that were issued during the first 100 years of the postage stamp.

The other collection that is offered is a worldwide collection. At about 95% complete (save for the most recent year or two, which even the large publishing houses have yet to publish), the world is very well represented. The 5% or so that is missing represents about 20 countries that are not yet up to date, with most just needing a few more years of stamps to be completed. All in all, Stamp Albums Web houses about 70,000 stamp album pages!

Stamp Albums Web
Sample album page

You might be asking what does it take to make your own stamp albums. First, you need to make sure you have Adobe Acrobat Reader. Bill provides a convenient download link for this free utility. Next, you simply download the files and save them on your computer. Finally, you print them out on the paper of your choice. Bill also provides helpful recommendations for paper choices, printing problems you might encounter, etc.

Now to the cost of this service -- how does a $20 (US) website membership sound? It is an incredible bargain that everyone can afford. For that price, you get one year access to download any of the files that you want. If you have a slow download speed and/or would like to have a CD-ROM of all album pages, it can be purchased for $30. To combine both the one-time CD-ROM with a yearlong website membership, it is only $40. His website indicates that he takes major credit cards, checks, PayPal, even unused U.S. postage stamps. Again, this is an incredible bargain that will pay for itself many times over. Over 2000 subscribers can't be wrong!

As with any human endeavor, occasional mistakes will crop up on an album page. Bill has a policy of making correction pages available online for an extended period of time. You can even download them after your subscription has run out.

Even if you don't have access to a printer or good quality paper, or are a computer "dummy", you can still get affordable stamp albums. Bill has licensed several users in different countries to provide ready-to-use stamp album pages for a nominal fee.

If this review sounds biased, it is. I subscribed to Stamp Albums Web for several years as I started building my Scandinavia stamp collection. I only stopped because of a once-in-a-lifetime bargain I got off of eBay for a complete world-wide stamp album collection. Had I not made that tremendous bargain, I would still be downloading and building my stamp albums today.

Be sure to visit Stamp Albums Web and look around. You will probably find yourself very pleased with the choices that are available and will want to become a subscriber yourself.

Would you like to nominate a website for a Stamps of Distinction Website Spotlight? If so, read and follow the instructions on this link.

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