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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Record keeping for stamp collections

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popeye56
30 Mar 2013
11:18:51am
Is there a standard way to keep stamp records? I've set mine up but feel I've added way to much information and the current process now takes me about 5 minutes to add each stamp to my collections due to different records and locations were they are kept.
My current records just for sailing ships are 115 pages at two columns and now I'm adding the 1956 issues, the Universal Postal Union issues and the 1937 Paris expo as well.
I need something less that will give me more. Is there such a thing out there?

Robbin
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DRYER
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The past is a foreign country, they do things different there.
30 Mar 2013
01:33:44pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Robbin Quinn:

Your questions beg yet another. What are you doing with this information?
If your information gathering and recording is an integral and enjoyable
part of your hobby, why change? Of what do you want "more for less"?

If you are looking for pro forma material to tick boxes every time you
mount a stamp, will that give you comparable satisfaction?

In this, the electronic age, we've information overload, much of it inaccurate
and commonly labelled UFI. There is virtually unlimited data available
on an unlimited number of topics. For example, a few of my stamps are mounted
individually with several pages of commentary. Some of my album pages simply
display a couple of dozen stamps.

I tried keeping an inventory of my stamp collection, but abandoned that practice
decades ago as it was time-consuming, involved a lot of work that served
very little purpose.

If you are retailing stamps, then that's a business and not a hobby; and requires
permanent records subject to second-party audit, as well as other information to
support efficient and profitable operation.

With each advancing year, I concentrate more on the enjoyment aspect of stamp-collecting.
Works for me, that's all that matters.

John Derry


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Mike
30 Mar 2013
02:55:30pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I couldn't agree more with Dryer. Are you collecting stamps or running an accounting firm? It sounds like you spend more time entering information than mounting stamps.

Personally, I have want lists, that take up a lot of time to create, but it does make it easier for trading, when I have time for that. Other than that if I want to know what I have then out comes the album and time for perusing what's there.

Obviously the best system is the K-I-S-S method, especially involving your spare time hobbies.

Mike

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michael78651
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30 Mar 2013
05:38:24pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I agree 100%! It is a hobby, don't make it a job.

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tomiseksj
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30 Mar 2013
06:27:08pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Robbin,

I maintain an inventory of my collection using Microsoft Excel.

The information that I record are Scott #, Quantity, Mint/Used, Item Location, Condition, Catalog Value, Date Acquired, Purchase Price, and Description (this column only gets filled for covers/cards and records postmark and other special marking data).

The spreadsheet has pages for Regular Issue, On-Cover/Card, Air Mail, Postage Due, Revenues, Surplus, etc.

It takes very little time to record new acquisitions and provides searchable, sortable functionality.

Steve

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cdj1122
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30 Mar 2013
08:07:07pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I'm sorry, Steve, but that all sounds like work.
I prefer, and have used, John and Mike's " .... out comes the album and time for perusing what's there. ...." system for almost fifty years.
Although I sometimes have to consult a box of re-processed mail envelopes containing stamps being accumulated by subject or country for mounting but not quite ready for the big time yet.
However, if all that is enjoyable, far be it for me to disparage its pleasures for you.
Remember it's your hobby, so "have it your way."

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popeye56
30 Mar 2013
09:26:51pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I see both sides very well. And both have good points. My sailing ship stamps have new issues world wide nearly every month and the UPU emblem can show up at any time as well. There are currently over 29,000 sailing ship stamps so some sort of record keeping is needed to avoid double and even triple purchase of the same issues. I don't "mount my stamps", way to much time in that. Everything is in 6 pocket pages at double sides and contained in 7 large 3 ring notebooks that cover A to Z. 10 years in Army supply so guess some record keeping is in my blood as well.

Robbin

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tomiseksj
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31 Mar 2013
09:09:35am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

No need to apologize cjd1122. Being able to determine, within seconds, whether or not I have a particular issue, its condition, and where it is located is well worth the minimal investment I have made in time to document my acquisitions.

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bobstew617
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27 Aug 2013
09:07:28pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Being an accountant, I like to track my collection. (I use Microsoft ACCESS and have created my own queries and reports for it.) One of the primary reasons I do this is for knowing what I have when I go to buy online. I have the database open in one window and the online "store" open in the other. It helps reduce the chance I will buy something I already have significantly. (This has happened to me more than once while at a stamp store (sadly, no more in the Orlando area) or a show.

Having an inventory helps me so I have an idea of value for insurance purposes.


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philb
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28 Aug 2013
07:04:10pm

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re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I keep a record of what i buy and sell..my wife wonders why,but i could not keep a record of my stamp and cover collections !

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philb
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28 Aug 2013
07:05:45pm

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re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Much less i could not keep a record of the sweater and computer paper boxes full of stamps and covers!!!!

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alyn
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28 Aug 2013
09:51:15pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I have used several systems Microsoft Excel and Access, Open Office and a specific Stamp inventory software I have also used GCStar which is a linux based collection management system.

I am currently using SQLITE which is a small SQL db system that does not need a server to be run. I can interface with it through various programming languages I am currently writing a custom app that I will use to keep track of things in Basic 256. I also have written a cover DB app using SQLITE in python. These don't have a GUI or anything but do what I need them to do.

Alyn

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bamra1
29 Aug 2013
07:09:13pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

When I first got a computer I started up a record in Excel. It did not last very long. Just possibly if I had started collecting the same day as I bought the computer it might have worked; but merely keeping up with new purchases was hard enough; I never had the chance to make any inroads into the seven eighths of my existing collection which lay beneath the surface.

They are really only two reasons why you might need to keep a record.

a) If you are an obsessive about record keeping. I don't say this to be unkind to those who are. We are ALL obsessive about SOMETHING. And if your something is record keeping, that's what you'll have to do, and it's pointless our telling you not to.

b) If your insurance company insists on it. I used to have a policy which said I had to keep a list of the SG numbers of every stamp I own. Whilst I just collected stamps I used to tick off everything I bought in the catalogue, and hoped that would be accepted as evidence. But then I started buying postal history (SG numbers are useless because the value of the actual stamp on a £20 cover is probably going to be about 10p) and postal stationery (there are NO SG numbers - except possibly for GB). So I gave up: both the record keeping and the policy. I don't find I sleep any worse at night. But if your collection is valuable and the man in the flat below is a convicted pyromaniac....

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Gillesletimbre
30 Aug 2013
08:14:17am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

for a modest price, I decided to buy a commercial version of a stamp software. It works well for me since I collect only 1 country and allows me to add actual scans of my stamps

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bobgggg
President Cortlandt Stamp Club
30 Aug 2013
06:32:18pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I keep it very simple and inexpensive. I just check the stamps off in my Scotts 2008 catalog .mint to the right of the number and used to the left. I really don't collect anything past 2006. I rather spend my money on stamps. But that's just me..

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auldstampguy
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Just one more small cover .....
30 Aug 2013
06:58:37pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Gilles,
Which software did you decide to use ?

Regards ... Tim

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Henpatch
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04 Sep 2013
06:10:21pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Like bobggg I too mark off in my catalogues the stamps I have aquired.....

I also have a subscription to Stanley Gibbons which have a "My Collection" area in which ALL stamps can be listed by country. They also give a (rough) estimate of value and total of the collection.

My sister lives interstate, so this was a great place to have to check which stamps we have and enable us to swap etc without "double-ups"

I get a bit behind with upgrading my SG collection.....but it was great to enable my collection to be insured as I had a (rough) value of everything!

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DSCStamps
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04 Sep 2013
06:41:22pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I have several methods to track my stamps. At one time I had a logbook with every stamp I owned, but it just became to hard to keep erasing quantities when I got duplicates, so I converted everything to Excel spreadsheet. This also became hard to keep up with changing values, so I embarked on other software and ended up with StampManage, which I have now used for probably 6 years. It has some shortcomings, but I have been able to work around them with other Excel spreadsheets. It does provide value summaries, but I do not know where they come up with the values. They are usually a lot less than Scotts. Where it makes sense, I also check off in my catalogs, but this also creates a problem when I want to buy a newer version catalog. My Scotts cat is a 2010 and I have been thinking about upgrading to a 2014 next year. I hate the thought of having to back and re-check everything. But somehow I need to know what I have so I don't go buy another one and would like to have an idea of what the current value estimates are. I buy a lot of time on impulse because I think I need something and then find out I already have it.

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Stampaholic
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06 Sep 2013
11:49:58am

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re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I too use the catalog method. I use a pink marker to mark the # of the one's I have and if it's mint I mark that also. Also I write tiny notes in front of the # if it is damaged in anyway as SF spacefiller, T -tear, NG- no gum. Hail of a lot of work when I get a new catalog, though. However, since the fire I have cut down on that, too. too old to start worldwide again am only going to collect US, Canada, Australia, & Br. comm.

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Logistical1
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06 Sep 2013
09:12:30pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

As pointed out Access is a great program for creating a database for collecting just about anything. Microsoft Excel 2013 is easy to use and almost as powerful as Access. But I figure I would rather spend my time looking at stamps than updating records.

So now I keep all my records in my head. The only thing bad that can happen to them is death and I don’t think I would care after that happens.
I use the number of duplicates I buy as a gauge of how quickly or slowly I am slipping into dementia.

All kidding aside fires, floods and thefts happen, it is a good idea to video tape or take pictures of your collection and keep a copy in the cloud or in your bank deposit box. Or in my case take pictures of someone else’s collection you would really like to have someday.

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yobo
07 Oct 2013
02:37:48pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Personally I use a spreadsheet from Open Office, and keep it simple therein. I put in catalog number, value for those of a certain value when I remember it, and make remarks about cancellation, condition etc. when there are something that I feel needs to be written down. I have one sheet for used, one for unused, one for back of book etc. for each country, and one file for each country. I am still in the process of plotting in my collection, but I'm in no hurry, I do it when I feel like it.

I do this because I like seeing my collection grow, and because knowing what I have can be useful.

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HungaryForStamps
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07 Oct 2013
05:03:31pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I don't use spreadsheets, but I try to catalog everything I have in one way or another. Stamps from new acquisitions are usually put into glassines with Scott numbers, by set or sometimes singles, or they are put into collections that are housed in stock/Vario pages or albums. During this process I try to note the overall catalog value of the purchase, be it a collection, or a few single stamps, versus the price I paid.

Its extra work, but it keeps me from purchasing more than I can handle. I'll probably break down under the strain in a couple years.

One thing I can't tell you without counting, is the quantity I have of a particular stamp. But its pretty easy to see what's missing.

I've found that because I estimate value before purchase, and limit collection purchase prices to a particular fraction of catalog value, I can pretty much determine a reasonable estimate of overall catalog value of the "collection" without much effort. That helps for insurance purposes.


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CaliforniaBob
12 Oct 2013
05:24:05pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I've been collecting for over 60 years (since I was 10 yrs. old). By the time I was old enough to actually keep records, I had too many stamps to do so. for what it is worth, here's my system for my many collections:

1. If a cover costs over $5.00 I put a slip of paper inside the cover (often cut from the bill of sale) which indicates the date and the price and maybe the dealer.

2. In my general foreign collection if a stamp has a cat. value of over $5.00 I put it in a mount; other stamps get mounted with hinges.

3. To keep track of my growing general foreign collection I many years ago did a cat. val. of the major countries. I wrote these in a notebook and now I just add the running cat. value as I add stamps. I ignore cat. val. changes from year to year. My goal here is to merely have a very rough record of which countries have the value when it comes time to sell. I use the same system for the actual total count of the general foreign collection, since unless one has lots of high value stuff, common foreign stamps (which is most of my collection) sell pretty much as a multiple of the number of stamps in a collection.

CaliforniaBob

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DavidG
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APS member since 2004
13 Oct 2013
08:09:09am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I have computer generated want lists, by Scott catalogue number.

For example, here is what part of my Costa Rica want list looks like:

78, 80e (perf 11 x 14), 81, 83d (perf 14), 84, 84c, 87, 89
90, 91, 92, 93, 94 (perf 14 x 11), 94a (perf 14), 95c (perf 14), 96, (perf 14 x 11), 96c (perf 14)97 (perf 14 x 11), 97d (perf 14), 98 (perf 14 x 11), 98c (perf 14), 99 (perf 14 x 11), 99b (perf 14)

When I go to a show and root through a dealer's stock, I can see what I need and what I don't. If I find a stamp on my list that I like, I pick it up and mark a check mark beside the number on the list.

When I go home and mount it in my album, I scratch the number out on the paper list and remove it from the digital list. When the paper list gets cluttered, I just print-off a new list.

Simple!

David

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DSCStamps
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13 Oct 2013
09:00:13am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

David - I think I am going to convert my want lists to your format too. Right now I have them on Excel and it takes too much paper to print it all out. A single Word document would work a lot better. Thanks for the thought. - Dan

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drmicro68
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13 Oct 2013
02:45:39pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

At the moment I am using StampManage 2013 for my stamps. It works pretty well, Scott numbers and many images are included, & generating want lists is fairly easy (that means, fairly easy for me). It is relatively inexpensive (compared to other commercial packages) and works for me (I have tried several programs--this one I like).

For postal history I am currently using Calc in LibreOffice. I guess Excel would work but this again works for me as a not-novice but not-geek. I had basic Excel training over 10 years ago, never really used it and I think I know less now than when I took the class. This laptop came with Office 2010 on it (not Access or Publisher) and Word & Outlook are the only modules I use.

RogerAt Wits End

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DSCStamps
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13 Oct 2013
03:24:14pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Roger - I also use Stamp Manage for my U.S. issues, but it is still quite limited for the specialized issues. But, it works for me too for what I want it to do.

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debene
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14 Oct 2013
04:43:43am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

'cause I'm involved in thematic I keep track about this items in particular.

I use excel and keep the following information :

ID, position in album ( page and row ), nation, description, topic and subtopic.
Then I also have scanning of page albums.

For all the rest during these years I've tried a lot of commercial software, but in the end I prefer to adopt Access or Excel.

I don't know about SG catalogue on line. Have someone informations ?

Thanks

bye

sergio

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alyn
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webmaster for the ISWSC http://iswsc.org and ATA http://www.americantopicalassn.org
14 Oct 2013
04:42:40pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Well further to my post above I have successfully got GC Star to work on my Windows 7 netbook.

As much as I enjoyed my SQLite programming, GC Star allows me almost the same freedom as developing my own system.

Below are a couple of screenshots from the database I set up using GC Star for my paintings on stamps collections:

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I decided that with the ability to customize the program to my needs it defeated the purpose of me trying to re-invent the wheel.

GC Star uses .xml as the means to store the data. With a little hacking I custom made a html template for exporting the collection results to a webpage for my site. You can see the result here.

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drmicro68
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15 Oct 2013
12:03:47am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Alyn: I am very interested in your success in using GStar. I had given that a try about a year ago, and I guess my limited patience (and experience in using databases other than Paradox many centuries ago) left me with a less than great response--plus it seemed that the amount of data input was very labor intensive. I would love to learn more about how you use GStar.

Roger

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alyn
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webmaster for the ISWSC http://iswsc.org and ATA http://www.americantopicalassn.org
15 Oct 2013
08:57:44am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Hi Roger,

I find with GC Star it is a lot of Trial and Error. You can create a custom collection type and that gets rid of a lot of the information the default collection was looking for input.

I will try to come up with a few screen shots to demo for you. The import .csv feature is very much hit and miss with Windows so I am trying to work my way through tsome issues there. For manual entry where I am not importing data from my old spreadsheets etc. It works like a charm.

Alyn

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Bobstamp
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23 May 2015
05:57:45pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

My wife will tell you that I'm not the most-organized person in the world. She might tell you that I am the least-organized person in the world! Is it any wonder that I sometimes buy stamps that I already have?

Recently I downloaded a set of album pages for stamps issued by the Vietnam National Liberation Front, a.k.a. Viet Cong or simply "V.C." Now I have embarked on the pleasant task of trying to fill the pages. I was surprised how many stamps I need, both used and mint; pre-printed albums are a good way to learn about any country that you decide to collect, especially if you didn't previously know much about your chosen country's stamps. Even if you've been collecting those stamps for a while, there's more to learn, believe me!

Since Viet Cong stamps aren't generally catalogued (they weren't valid as postage, as far as I know), I needed a way to determine whether I need stamps that I find on-line or at stamps shows and exhibitions. I printed the VC pages in colour in booklet format, punched holes in the sheets, and put them into a duo-tang report cover, and plan to use them as a sort of checklist.

Here's the cover — that's the VC flag (hope I'm not arrested by Homeland Security!):

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Here's the title page:

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And here's one of the "check list" pages (I'm marking the stamp image with a "U" if I have a used copy, and an "M" if I have a mint copy. If I have both used and mint copies, I draw an "X" through the image.

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Note: the only used VC stamps available are Cancelled to Order (CTO); like all CTO stamps, the VC stamps were mainly created to raise foreign currency for the war effort in the Vietnam War. They can be quite expensive. Even though I was badly wounded in Vietnam, by a Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army sniper, I bear no animosity towards any Vietnamese. The stamps of the VC, as well as South and North Vietnamese stamps, have helped me to understand how fate, colonialism, and irresponsible American politicians and military planners put me and hundreds of thousands of other young Americans in harm's way in Vietnam.

Bob

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ConnieB
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23 May 2015
09:17:31pm

Approvals
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I also use StampManage. Recently I upgraded to 2015. It is MS Access based.

Like others, I've added thousands of varieties, images and appreciate this system more each year. Prior to that I tried Excel but much prefer the visual features in StampManage.

As for the stamp variety values in StampManage, it uses values that are entered by various collectors and they are organized in tables by years. If collectors enter the Scott catalog values, then that is what defaults for selections, based on year desired. Usually it is not the actual value. So, I've been entering values for my own collection. Initially it is time consuming, but with time, I hope it will get easier since many Scott values do not change from year to year.

It is unlikely that Liberty Street can provide the actual Scott values with the software. That may be proprietary information.

Entering information about my collections is part of what I enjoy doing. There are supposed to be a number of practical reasons, but I've been working with databases for decades, so that may explain some of the appeal.

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xstitchalanna
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Wanting to bring the joy of stamp collecting to younger generations
23 May 2015
10:51:04pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I have been using EZStamp. It has all the information in it already, you just type in the scott number, add how many you have, save and done. It's been really fast and easy and it comes pre-loaded with pictures. It is very customizable too.

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jimjung
24 May 2015
11:00:45am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

You's guys are the most organized bunch of collectors I have ever heard of. Gosh !
If I did that kind of bookkeeping, I'd be filing all day. Here's what I'm working with and this is not even my collection. This is just a few books full of spares.

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I do have a file full of receipts, though.

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
24 May 2015
01:06:25pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Compared to me, Jim, you are extremely organized:

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michael78651
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24 May 2015
02:15:01pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Bobby, is that an inverted Jenny on the floor? Could it be one of the missing ones?

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
24 May 2015
03:25:56pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

About a year ago I was rolling my desk chair around when something on the carpet caught my eye. Turned out to be a used USA #2 which had fallen out of its mount I know not when. If I had an inverted Jenny, I would not be overly surprised to find it amidst the detritus at my feet.Big Grin

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hs2oca
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26 May 2015
12:02:02am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Hmm...record keeping. That's a new thought for me. Might be worth it to start a file for receipts if nothing else.

For stamps I think I'll use the catalog method, as I have one handy, and a highlighter to highlight items I already have. Will focus on my Canadian collection.

Thanks for everyone's input on this topic...lots to think about as I am starting to acquire duplicates inadvertently.

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TuskenRaider
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26 May 2015
12:20:59am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Here's an idea....collect ledger books and calculators and throw the stamps away. At Wits End

Just countin' beans....1-2-3-4-5....10,717, 10,718.... Rolling On The Floor Laughing
TuskenRaider

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GibChris
26 May 2015
08:10:28am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I tired a few of the pieces of software out there including the Stanley Gibbons one. Eventually I decided it took too long and was out of date too quickly. Instead I created a new Facebook user and scanned all the pages of my Album and attached to the Facebook pages. Originally only intending to use it for the early years where colour, margins, postmark etc were important but I have since added a few more years.
It helps that I collect French and have no issues with Watermarks or phosphor bands yet.
I can then access my collection when at a dealers and check what I have and what I am missing.

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TuskenRaider
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26 May 2015
04:20:00pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Hi Chris;

Hey that sounds like a database that makes sense, saves time and doesn't require a degree in accounting.
I could never spend more time acquiring data about stamps than actually collecting them.

Just Chillin'....
TuskenRaider

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philb
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06 Jun 2015
11:28:26pm

Auctions
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

i seem to be missing the June 6 posting Hypnotized

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ChrisW
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APS# 175366
09 Jul 2015
11:30:32am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

The main reason I even attempt to keep track of what I have is to try to avoid buying the same stamp twice. So, like many others, I just use my catalogue to mark off what I have. I try to do this as I’m mounting the stamp in my album. You can use different color highlighters or pens to denote different things if you want. I usually just highlight the Scott# but sometimes will also mark whether it is mint or used. It works nice for me since I only collect 1840-1940, I only have one catalogue to deal with, and when I go to shows, I just bring it along. Only issue is if you want to buy a new catalogue, then that’s a lot of work to transfer everything over. And, at some point I may start collecting stamps from the 1940s, and then I might need to come up with a different system Thinking

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jkjblue
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09 Jul 2015
04:39:58pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Quote:

"like many others, I just use my catalogue to mark off what I have... It works nice for me since I only collect 1840-1940, I only have one catalogue to deal with, and when I go to shows, I just bring it along. Only issue is if you want to buy a new catalogue, then that’s a lot of work to transfer everything over. And, at some point I may start collecting stamps from the 1940s, and then I might need to come up with a different system Thinking"



My system too- for 1840-1940 WW, the Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue is easy to take along to stamp shows etc. I do maintain a want list of stamps needed to fill my virtual Big Blue on my laptop also. Cool

Yes- it does break down if one is collecting post 1940 issues. Laughing

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AirmailEd
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09 Jul 2015
05:11:00pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I keep my inventory in an Excel spreadsheet. It automatically tallies the number of
stamps I own, what I paid, and the catalog value, when available. It also keeps me from buying stamps
that I already have.

Knowing what I have paid gives me an idea of the retail value of the collection, should I
ever want to sell it. It is also a sobering reminder of where my money has gone.

I have friends who are intimidated by spreadsheets. They are actually simple to use.
There are a number of free ones available. If you want the spreadsheet on your computer, try
LibreOffice.

It might be easiest to use the spreadsheet in Google Docs. That is also free.

Here's a snip of the top of my spreadsheet, to give you an idea:

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This all runs horizontally. I've split it to make it fit here. You can add pictures to Excel if you like. That
is overkill for my purposes.

A true catalog value is not always available, since some stamps are listed only in Sanabria. That
catalog has not been updated since 1972. Some catalog values may be out of date, since I bought
some stamps 20 years ago.

Using a dedicated stamp database can be problematic. Eventually, the developer may stop working on
it. Windows is good about supporting old programs, but eventually your old database will no longer
open. If you use a Mac, that is likely to happen much quicker. Spreadsheets are unlikely to ever have
that problem. At worst, you can copy old data into a new spreadsheet easily.

Ed Foster

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adam31415926
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22 Aug 2016
05:33:32pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I think that one thing keeping an inventory can do is to help us learn about the subjects depicted on stamps. We can learn about another culture and the things that they are proud of or that they value. We can learn about the places depicted or the flora and fauna of a country. We can explore the world through stamps. I think if we record these details we are more likely to remember them.

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Stevo45
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22 Aug 2016
06:49:08pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Quote:

"Windows is good about supporting old programs, but eventually your old database will no longer
open. If you use a Mac, that is likely to happen much quicker."



I think you have that back to front.. My 10 yr old Mac runs the current apple software and also runs Windows (XP pro) which I use for Autocad 2000.. Apple has always been good at " Backwards compatibility " - My newer Mac (laptop) does have an issue with (old) Photoshop (Windows) and File Maker Pro but the old DB files will be converted to work on whichever newer operating system that you use.

Cheers

Steve.
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angore
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Collector, Moderator
23 Aug 2016
06:56:34am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I use excel. I had tried most stamp software programs and decided excel gives me flexibility for ease of entry and filtering. My file (US) has over 8000 rows.

If one uses a database then you end up spending more time in design aspects and less likely to try something new (new fields, etc). I can add columns/rows easily, copy/paste etc. I also keep track of purchases. I do not keep images, etc.

Al

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lemaven
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23 Aug 2016
11:56:15am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I like Excel for my record-keeping, here's my spreadsheet. So far I've found it pretty easy as well; although it took up some time I could have spent playing guitar, going out for dinner with my wife, or having friends over for cocktails. But well worth it as I've avoided accidentally buying another duplicate Hoard.

Date Purchased......Cost.........Description
12-May-13...............$400.00......Big Hoard O' Stamps, Albums, and Supplies


Cheers, Dave.







Rolling On The Floor Laughing

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Strider
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25 Aug 2016
04:41:15am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I'm with those who prefer to spend time on the stamps rather than keeping records. I use SG catalogues - a little pencil mark for the stamps I've got against the SG number. As I rely on second hand catalogues, an issue is the rubbing out of the previous owner's own marks! Not easy if they use a hard pencil or worse, a pen. I've bought a 3B pencil for my own marks.

I do use a simple excel sheet for my collection of engraved stamps. This because I don't have catalogues for all the countries that are represented in my collection. I use just 4 columns - country, issue date, a brief description of the image and then the name of the engraver. Quite a few engravers worked for various different countries - recently and notably Slania. So by sorting by columns I can easily see what I have from each engraver. So far I have only 800 or so stamps listed in this way - lots more to find!

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valand8683
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Steve M, Long Island, NY
12 Sep 2018
12:57:07am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

I started with Excel to track all stamps in my collection. There are three "levels" of linked files. The first is 000Summary, This contains totals for different Regions: Europe, US & Canada, Asia, French Colonies, etc For Each region, there is a link which opens the Region Summary - level two spread sheet. Say you open the Europe - summary. Now in here are totals for each country in Europe: Austria, France, etc. Clicking a Country hyperlink in that level opens the Third level file - e.g. Germany or Austria or other Country - where the actual stamp collection data is stored.
Now that third level is where all the stamps info is actually stored - Cat #, M/U, Type, CV, CV Year, Paid, Date, and a bunch more. The Country xls file contains many worksheets to keep one worksheet from containing an unworldly number of rows. For example REG-1, REG_2, SEMIs, AIRS, Dues, MISC, and what ever is needed. Finally there is a SUMMARY worksheet, which totals various amounts from the prior worksheets in the country xls file. Each worksheet - Reg, Air, etc has excel calculate column totals at the top - row 3 actually for my files. The Summary worksheet has links to total everything up for the Country. The Region (2nd Level) reads all the Summarys, thru links. All the Country 3rd level files have an identical format/column structure. New material can be added pretty quickly.
In actual use, you open 000Summary, Click a region hyperlink to open the level 2 file, then Click a Country hyperlink, to Open / edit your actual stamp data - in the final 3rd level. This is harder to explain than use. The concept I found while looking for a 3rd party database, when I saw a like which contained the text " . . . Why not to use a database for a stamp collection . . . " Upon finished editing a country, you save your changes and close that file. All the subtotals get updated automatically, down thru the region file, and then to 000Summary.

Now I said, I started with this. As a retired programmer, I wrote my own application using VB.net Community Edition to load all the 3rd level Country files containing the stamps into an Access database - takes about a second to load each record. Lastly, I wrote another application that interfaces to that database enabling to quickly search for a stamp. Over the past 6 years or so, I have kept enhancing the spreadsheets, the database and the interface. There are various reports - to see the value of your entire collection, or it's value by region, or by individual album. I've scanned all my higher value stamps - and they can be viewed in the interface - which I have simply named MyStamps. As I acquire new catalogues, I update the catalogue values in the spreadsheets, where it can be done pretty quickly. The Load application can also update the database from changes in the spread sheets. The database stores a history of catalog values, so you can see in MyStamps what a stamp as cataloged over the years - for data that you have entered. You can enter additional histories within MyStamps.

I'm willing to offer the code at no cost. Excel is required on your machine - Access database is not (I think) I'm not sure if my application will work with any version of Excel. The loading application uses what is known as Office Automation and I am not sure if that part of the code will work with any version of Excel. I'm using Office 2000.

Anybody interested in pursuing this further? The most tedious part is building the 3rd level excel files. I'd say that I could enter excel rows in a have minute or so. The catalog number can be for one number or a complete set or short set. The program is designed for Scott Catalog numbers - so it knows how to load up something like Germany 9NB3a, or Gabon 875-8. The loader application parses catalog numbers into 4 parts. Not seen by the user, but needed by the myStamps application for various reasons - preventing duplicate records being the primary one, sorting records being the second. Having a stamp as Used, Mint, Block, SS, Coil Single, Coil Pair, Booklet, Pane, etc is supported and does not cause a duplicate stamp problem.

I can also share the Excel templates - very nice to use if not going as far as the database loading. For this I'd setup some sample files, so one can see how all the links and hyperlinks are done between the three levels of spread sheets - stored in a hierarchy of folders.

As other's have pointed out - there's a lot of work in maintaining records like this, but for me the rewards are well worth the effort. When looking if I need a particular stamp - I go to MyStamps - where I can find out in seconds. Going to the spread sheet - not so fast, but probably faster that retrieving an album. I get the rows in Catalog number order.

MyStamps (and spread sheets) supports entry of Want List items - but I've found want lists in word docs are easier. No Want List report in MyStamps at this time.

Sorry for the long post - Steve

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
12 Sep 2018
06:39:46am
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Steve,
Your app looks very nice, good job.

As a VP of Engineering at several technology companies, I have often been heavily involved with software vision and decisions. Desktop apps and the operating system they run on top of represents a constantly changing environment. Heck, even the devices that are being used to store our information can change over a relatively short period of time. Trying to stay abreast and support this very ephemeral technology curve is, at a minimum, very daunting.

Due to these reasons, I migrated to using SQL as the foundation for storing stamp information. In my opinion it is by far the best platform to store philatelic data long term (decades) since you do not have to chase the rapid-fire changing technology landscape. Many people do not understand the pitfalls and cost in trying to keep up with desktop applications over time. Apps like Excel, Access and operating systems like Windows, Linux, and AppleOS are updated every year. This places a huge burden on developers to keep them relevant and not become obsolete. (Anyone still use Lotus or Wordperfect?) Of course most manufacturers try to retain backwards compatibility but there are never any guarantees. This is especially true with devices. Who would have thought 5 years ago that desktop computers usage would be less than mobile devices?

A SQL database foundation represents a cross-platform approach which unchains it from the client interface. There are multiple ways to quickly develop a user interface to the foundational SQL data. So as over time the user interfaces may change, you retain the core value and investment you have made in your data.

So I moved away from developing things that relied upon Access and other proprietary desktop tools. With a SQL foundation storing the data, it is relatively easy to learn how to develop webpages for the user interface. The benefits to this solution include being totally cross platform and cross device. It will run on any operating system, any browser, and device. And of course you also gain ‘availability’ since the app is also internet capable.

SQL (MYSQL or MS SQL) is available for free as are many of the tools needed to build a web user interface. Existing Access or Excel data can easily be used imported into SQL to retain previous invested time and effort. I encourage you to look into this solution (if you have not already) and can assist if you have any questions.
Don

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valand8683
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Steve M, Long Island, NY
13 Sep 2018
10:38:27pm
re: Record keeping for stamp collections

Hi Don,
Application actually interfaces to an Access or SQL-Server database already - selected in combo box at top right (See image) - and main form caption shows database in use. There is a copy function in the application to copy a stamp record from one dbs the other. One of these days, I'm going to abandon using one of the databases.
Backup/Restore is so much more complicated with SQL server, but using SQL-SERVER has several advantages - speed being the primary one that I quickly observed.

If I want to distribute the application, can SQL-lite be incorporated into the install (Using VB.NET Community) - or would a prospective user have to install SQL-LITE from Microsoft's site? SQL-Server - I feel is somewhat complicated to install (by typical users of home systems), as I myself ended up with it being installed differently on my Desktop and Laptop. Backup/Restore between the two machines was a bear - using ONE-DRIVE to hold the backups.

I'm using DSL for Web access - and getting the backups into ONE-DRIVE takes quite a while - one of these days, I'll change to a higher speed connection.

Bringing a populated Access Table into SQL-Server is a bit complicated if dealing with auto-number fields - took me a couple of hours to figure how to get the auto-number field to load into an IDENTITY field.

I have a fear, probably unfounded - that I could lose the SQL-DBS somehow, but not the Access DBS so easily, so I've been maintaining both. I had originally used an Oracle Database - and lost it when the IP address changed on a new machine. I had used Oracle for years in work - don't miss that.

I think that I have SQL-LITE installed also - I'll have to give it a look-see.
Anyway, thanks for your comments.
Steve

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