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Dealing With Mounts

When you’re bored on Easter morning, then you go nuts on your blog.

Some tips on dealing with stamp mounts this morning…

Cutting stamp mounts with scissors is not a good idea. It’s almost impossible to get a good straight cut. Showgard sells a mount guillotine, which is expensive. You can use a hobby knife and a ruler to get a straight edge. But the most convenient thing I have found is to use a Fiskars SureCut Portable Trimmer with Recycled Cutline.

This is only $13.95 on Amazon, and has served me well for 5 years now.

Glueing mounts to pages is something else I have “hacked.” The back of the mount has a moisture activated glue that will stick to the page. This has 2 slight issues: the moisture used to activate the glue might get into the mount and get on the stamp, and the paper you’re mounting the stamp to might curl.

My local stamp store recommends people use an Uhu/Elmers glue stick to mount my stamps. They are 100% moisture free and have a very high pH, so they’re acid-free. And they won’t curl your page.

I used this method for years with outstanding success. But I wanted something easier to use. So, I discovered these: Tombow Mono Adhesive Dispenser.

You just flip up the tab on the bottom, run it along the length of the page, and then push your mount on the page.

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Your Friend, The Hawid Glue Pen

If you’re a collector of non-mainstream countries, such as Ukraine, you may notice that stamp mounts are not available in every size you need. So, more often than not, you end up with a miniature sheet that’s rattling around in a mount that’s too big.

Well, this is where the Hawid Glue Pen comes to the rescue. It lets you take an oversized mount and make it smaller. You open the mount and run the Glue Pen along the length of the mount, close it, apply pressure and then trim the excess mount you don’t need. With some practice, you’ll be able to get a perfect mount every time.

One word of caution. You’re going to really manhandle your mounts. And mounts pick up oils off your fingers like crazy. So, I strongly suggest you wash your hands before you use the Hawid Glue Pen. I shortened two mounts this morning, and got fingerprints all over them, inside and out and spent another 10-15 minutes cleaning them with Windex and paper towels. You don’t want to go there, if you can avoid it.

You also want to get a mount that’s close to what you need in size. You’re shortening one side of the mount., so the split in the back will no longer be in the middle of the mount. If you use a mount that’s too big, then one flap could become tiny and not hold the stamp in securely.

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My 2020 Ukrainian Stamps Arrive Tomorrow

Rather than order from Ukrposhta, like I normally do, I bought the stamps from an eBay seller in Ukraine. They got here IN A WEEK. In the middle of a pandemic. That’s impressive. Looks like I am going to have a busy week ahead of me.

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Updates On Upcoming Releases

As the pandemic continues, it’s wearing on me emotionally. My younger son turned 18 and is lamenting that his senior prom will not happen, and he basically lost half his junior year and most of his senior year to a virus.

And my parents, 92 and 78, FINALLY, got their first shot of the Moderna vaccine last week. Trying to get them set up for vaccination appointments took up way more time than expected, because they live in a rural area that doesn’t have a ready supply of vaccines.

My wife is still not 100% over her COVID-19 recovery, from when the whole family got COVID-19 back in December, and had it ruin Christmas for us. She’s still tired a lot and is experiencing some brain fog.

So, I have been a little pandemic pre-occupied, which is eating into my free time.

Having said that, here are some updates:

Mystic Hacking

I don’t see myself doing any more of these. I have hacked everything through the year 2003, I believe. Anything after that is just too much work. I may do a page or two on request. But getting 2003-2020 done would be a major undertaking. If I catch up on other stuff I may revisit it.

Community US Stamp Album

I got halfway through the 2005 supplement. I’m pulling descriptions from the US Postal Bulletin. And for 2005, I am really NOT happy with the descriptions. So, I replaced the Postal Bulletin ones by using Wikipedia, and I am not thrilled with those either. So, this is going to take some manual editing on my part. I would LOVE to crowdsource the description writing, so we could all collaborate on the descriptions. But I am picky and don’t want to offend anyone by correcting their submission. I bought a lifetime subscription to ProWritingAid.com and use that for all my grammar checking.

It’s also a challenge to figure out all the definite varieties issued each year. That eats up the biggest chunk of time.

Tryzub Ukrainian Stamp Album

Back in the first week of January, I put together an order on ukrposhta.ua of all the 2020 stamps. I left it in my cart and did not order it because I was waiting for payday. Of course the first week in January I was still on the mend from COVID-19, and was only functional for a few hours before I needed to take a break. So, like many things that week, it slipped my mind, and they never got ordered. I’m going to place an order this week. The pandemic is adding 1-2 weeks of shipping time to stamps from Ukraine. So, instead of the usual 2 weeks, it now takes a month to get stamps in from Ukraine. Luckily, I can start on descriptions and layout waiting for stamps to arrive. I just can’t test-fit stuff till stamps get here.

Something That Makes My Stamp Collecting Life Easier

Just 5 minutes from my house, there is a great “collectibles” store. The gentleman sells, stamps, coins, paper money, sports cards, and collectible card games such as Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, etc.

He has a very good selection of stamp mounts. So, if I get a stamp that needs a mount size I don’t have, I can usually get what I need after a 5 minute drive. But, even better, my son works there! So, I can text him my order, and he comes home with the mounts I need. This has significantly sped up the publications for me.

Stuff I Want To Do In The Future

I want to get the website off of WordPress. WordPress is a great publishing platform, but I don’t want to have to deal with the WordPress update cycle for a site as simple as my own. I want to switch to using Hugo for creating my web pages. That would require a teardown of the site and recreation. Which really wouldn’t be that bad. There’s a lot of OLD cruft here that really isn’t needed anymore.

I also want to get back into Ireland. I made one page of Irish stamps (my wife is Irish, and I thought she would like it), and then I went on to the most dreaded of topics, the Bird Definitives. I was so frustrated with figuring out all the varieties that I joined the Eire Philatelic Association to recruit help. They told me that the Bird Definitives are a huge PITA, and the different catalogs don’t even agree on them. So, I shelved the idea.

I really want to get to where I am cranking out just 3 supplements a year: Ukraine, US and Ireland. That’s going to take a while to get there.

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How things look going forward

I looked at 2005 and 2006. In order to hack 2005, I would need to modify 7 pages. And 2006 will require 8 pages. I stopped looking after that. So I think hacking the 21 century is just unsustainable. Hacking a page here or there is not that big a deal. But hacking more than half a supplement is treading dangerously close to some kind of copyright violation.

So, what are my options for Mystic?

I could make my own pages with my own descriptions, in the style of Mystic. I don’t like that option, because I find myself being put in a position where one day I will get a cease and desist letter.

I could leave everyone hanging and just only do Ukraine.

Or I could resurrect an old project.

This is what I will do short term and long term. Short term, I will mount all my 21st century stamps in a Scott Minuteman album. The Minuteman is 90% of what I want, layout-wise. The only issue I have with it is how thin the paper is.

I plan to resume work on the Community US stamp album. I really like what I did there. That is going to be my ultimate solution for 21st century stamps. I don’t know how fast I can turn stuff around. The most annoying thing with designing these pages is the descriptions, and getting all the major Scott catalog numbers of all these definitives with assorted microprint varieties listed. Sadly, the Scott catalog is of little help here.

I had 2003 partially done a while ago. Hopefully, I can get it done in a few weeks.

The other challenge I face is a lack of stamps. 21st century stamps are expensive. You can usually get MOST stamps ok, because they’re a standard size. But there’s always some sheet or se-tenant that’s a goofball size that I need to buy. That slows down work. But, we’ll see how it goes. Conveniently my son works at a stamp collecting store, so I can send an email to the owner and my son comes home with and stamps or mounts that I need.

Well, that’s it for now. Happy 2021 everyone. Hope this year is better than 2020. Stay safe!

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I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Posted Anything Since May 2019!

Well, it’s been a while. With the world is isolation, now seems like a good time to catch up on things like the LONG OVERDUE 2019 Tryzub Ukrainian Stamp Album supplement.

First I need to order stamps from the second half of 2019. But I would think most of them will be standard size. And those that aren’t, I can look up the size and cut blanks from paper.

In the current environment, I don’t know how long it will take stamps to get here.

Everyone stay safe.

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Proof of Life…

Slowly getting there

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My 2018 Ukrainian Stamps Finally Arrived from UKRPOSHTA

I guess it’s time to start hacking together my 2018 supplement. Stay tuned.

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Is anyone using the Community 21st Century US Stamp Album Supplement?

I originally did the Community US Stamp album supplement, because hacking Mystic past 2000 was looking to turn into a major undertaking. With the sheer volume of the se-tenants and miniature sheets that USPS produced in the 2000s and 2010s, it would have required hacking a LOT of pages, as many as 50% of pages per supplement. So, I thought it would be a lot easier to make my own pages.

But now I am looking at making 19 years of pages. That’s a whole lot of work to do, especially when trying to crank out a stamp album with page descriptions. The description are blatantly stolen from the US Postal Bulletin. But it is very time consuming to turn around and cut and paste descriptions from the US Postal Bulletin into a spreadsheet.

I get like 90% of what I need from the Scott Minuteman Album. It has descriptions for all commemorative stamps, and se-tenants are almost always displayed the way I intend to collect them. The only thing I don’t like is how thin the paper is.

But I think I can get past that.

If there is anyone besides me that thought that this album was a good idea, and is willing to dedicate some time into helping me cut and paste descriptions into an online spreadsheet, I’d be happy to continue the work. If no one is using the supplement, then I see no real point in continuing the make pages for this supplement.

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Life Has Been Busy

It’s been a busy 2018. I’ve actually not hacked together any stamp pages, because I have been busy mounting stamps! I consider this a good thing.

I need to finish updating Ukraine pages, so they all contain MICHEL catalog numbers. I have a few vacation days coming up. Hopefully I can blast through that and move on to other things.

I’d love to get another Community Stamp Album supplement out the door.

As far as I know, there are no more 20th Century Mystic pages that need to be hacked, so that part of page hacking is done. If I missed any pages, please let me know.