Featured Stamp Preservation Problem

Discussion in 'Stamp Chat' started by emoticon, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. emoticon

    emoticon New Member


    I'm a currency and coin collector, never stamps, so I know very little about them beyond that the one with the upside down airplane is worth a lot :p, and I've run into a pretty large stamp problem. My father recently gave me a stamp book that was my great-great grandfather's when he was a child. There are hundreds of them many of them are from the 1800's looking at some of them that are postmarked that are from all around the world. My dad never did anything with them what-so-ever they and sat in this book for over 100 years. The problem is the book is something akin to a dollar store composition wide ruled notebook that the stamps have been pasted or affixed to somehow. The paper they are affixed to is all yellowed and is obviously not acid free, and the book as a whole is battered and barely holding together. One one hand I'm thinking that I should try to remove them from the book and put them into a proper preservation holders or whatever, on the other hand I don't want to lose the context of the book itself, as my great great grandfather had written things about them on the pages. What do you think the best course of action to proceed with this to be able to preserve them as I may sell some, but in general I plan on keeping most of them to hand down as they've come to me. Also what is the best book for identifying and getting a rough value of these stamps is there a book that covers both US and International stamps back that far?

    Thanks for the help!
  2. desertgem

    desertgem Active Member

    The biggest problem is to figure out how to remove the backing. I would find a page that had little writing and cut close around a stamp and the composition paper backing and use it to see if the composition paper can be removed by water soaking. Here is the problem, back then, many didnot have the available stamp supply store to get hinges ( which even back then were difficult to remove), but instead they used adhesives such as a paste/school type of glue, mucliage glue, or even hide glues. If it is paste type, water has a good chance of removing or at least loosening it from the composition paper. The mucliage type often cracked and crystalized over time and maybe removed by very carefully pushing it off with a flat edged stamp teezers ( NOT sharp or household tweezers, as they can ter the stamp). Hide glue can be removed by some enzyme solutions ( I have never done this), but I would not heat it as some suggest as it may drive it to penetrate the stamp more. If it isn't water soluble, it would be a real real problem. I have been offered such collections and if one wouldn't separate in a moist paper towel, I wouldn't touch it.

    But assuming you can get the stamp separated, it can be dried and put into a plastic film Scott or equivalent stamp holder and attached to a piece of acid free paper a little larger than the hole you cut in the composition page, and then glue the edges of the archive paper over the hole with a water solvent glue in case you need to remove it later. That way the writing would be there and the stamp would be protected. This is time consuming if it works, so you might want to experiment on a low value stamp and perform on medium value stamps. High value stamps might be best sent to a restorer, but honestly I would be surprised as most of these type of collections were done ad hoc and mostly low value stamps were available ( most of foreign.

    For value, you might go to a public library and check out a Scott catalog(s) and research, or if it is a complete library, the Scott classic Specialized, just covers up to 1940, and is easier to use on older collections.

    I have never done what you are considering, but this would be the way I would iniate it. Best Luck.

  3. Larry L. Taylor

    Larry L. Taylor Active Member

    Sounds like a real dilema. I understand the 'history' associated with something a loong-ago relative bequethed to you.

    Under the circumstances, if the 'collection' has value to you the way it is, I'd leave it alone, handle as little as possible and, keep it in a dark/dry environment. But . . . the only value it has is to you.

    But if you wanted to segregate the stamps and store them in a less damaging environment or protect them from further degradation, then I guess you'll have to put out the effort to clean things up. If there were mint stamps, doubtful you'll be able to salvage any of those with their original gum; but they would be worth cleaning up. Older stamps (single and mounted on the pages) would probably be worth trying to soak off the paper. Older stamps were mostly (always) soaked off in warm water. Today's self-adhesives require a little more effort, but those efforts may also work depending on how the stamps you have are affixed. Modern methods (for the SA stamps) use naptha (get it at your local paint store) to separate the stamp from the paper (but not the adhesive). To get the adhesive off the stamp, I use something called Pure Citrus (i get it at Home Depot in the cleaning supplies section). It's an aerosol that is 100% orange or lemon oil. How it might work on hardened adhesive residue is the question you'll have to answer by trying it on one or two of your stamps. What I'd be afraiad of is that some form of 'scotch tape' might have been used to affix them to the pages. Then all bets are off.

    As to stamps that are on cover, I'd leave them on cover if possible - they supposedly have more collector value/interest if still on cover. I have some unique stamps on cover, but don't actively collect them or seek them out.

    Good luck with your future endeavors in this realm.

    And welcome to the forum.
    SATX Collector likes this.
  4. tasha

    tasha Active Member

    I have to say that this is my worst fear. Finding a rare stamp and then having it either stuck to other ones that I have forgotten to seperate or tearing it when removing it from the source document. I did hear of a solution that could get the stamps to seperate but I am not taking that risk. They do say that if you steam it it will seperate but if I were you I would just preserve it like it is.
  5. Seetoo

    Seetoo Member

    I would say find out via online info if any of the stamps you have are worth any money. If you find that you have some stamps of value and you want to sell them, then I'd say go to a professional to have them help you remove the stamps you want to sell. Any stamps that you want to keep, the professional can help you with an inexpensive way to preserve what you have, while taking care of the integrity of the book.
  6. zararina

    zararina Simply Me! :D

    There will be some collectors that would buy a stamp even with paper on its back. Although they might price the stamp lower cause they will be the one removing the backing.
  7. tasha

    tasha Active Member

    I have kept most of mine on and unfortunately a few I had in a seperate collection got stuck together. Funny I went to check up on them yesterday after looking at this discussion. I am upset about this because those are my unique ones that I never got time to put into an album. I am going to try stream them because I really dont want them to be destroyed and I think they will be alright as there are no markings on them. Will let you know if this works
  8. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    Hello Larry:

    I like your response and that is about the same thing that I would recommend.

    Question: in the above, you mentioned taking the S/A stamps off the paper with naptha, then soaking off the adhesive with the Pure Citrus. I have heard of the PC before as the best way to do it but never got a clear idea of the step-by-step process to get a stamp off perfectly clean.

    Can you elaborate? I have a number of on-paper supplied bulk that needs to be addressed but I didn't want to start until I know exactly what I am doing. I have a lot of low-cost duplicates to practice on...

    Thanks for your advice.
  9. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!


    I have always used cool or cold water to resoak stamps that are stuck together and off-paper... some stamps use organic ink and I am thinking that steam, being warm, will allow some of the inks to bleed, thus degrading what you are trying to save.

    Also: for on-paper stamps, NEVER soak colored paper with white paper in warm or hot water... I have had to destroy many stamps because the blue, green, or red paper bled into the white background of the stamp. Same thing with red postmarks: cool water is best.
  10. tasha

    tasha Active Member

    Thank you for the advice and I will try to follow these steps to preserve my stamp collection. I unfortunately have had to throw a few away as they just could not be salvaged.
  11. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    As I do a lot of groupings of stamps, I see where some folks have messed up a few stamps and they gett included in my 'groupware'.

    I have a small cellophane box entitled 'Not Ready for Prime Time' and I put the discolored, missing perfs, excessive thins, etc in this box. These again will go to a charity similar to Boys Town at no cost just so someone can say they have a "Scott 231" in their collection. They won't get a lot if they decide to resale, but noone gets ANYTHING if I throw it away as non-salable. At least they get to say they have something of the same era...

    Costs me a bit to send them somewhere but I remember how it was when I wish I could have had something to trade...
  12. tasha

    tasha Active Member

    Thats very true and a great idea. I am trying to organise myself this year and all my stamps arw going to be taken care of with caution. I have special places for them now and there is no way that they are going to get ruined this time!
  13. cbi2015

    cbi2015 New Member

  14. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    EXECELLENT!! Any way to move this to the Self-Adhesives forum so everyone can see?

    Another experiment about to happen...
  15. tasha

    tasha Active Member

    Oh I wish I had this info sooner, I have recently had to throw away some of my stamps as they tore while I attempted to get them seperated from each other.
  16. James-2489

    James-2489 Well-Known Member

    In answer to the original post and for anyone else with a similar problem.

    I would photocopy each page twice, once for reference and one for photoshop. In photoshop remove all background and stamps leaving only the handwritten text, enhance this if necessary. You can then print these on good quality archival paper. After separating the stamps from their backing paper they can be re-affixed or mounted on the new sheets using the other copy as reference.
    They should now last for another 100 years.

    Regards, James
  17. daRktoweR

    daRktoweR Member

    Sorry to suggest something different, but I would carefully cut around the stamps, buy a stock book and have your collection 'on a piece'. Why risk damaging them when collectors have nothing against stamps kept in this way?
    SATX Collector likes this.
  18. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    I am getting a lot of sheets from my sellers where the stamps are 'glued' straight to the album page... sacrilege yes but, to your point, if you don't just cut around them, you lose everything. And I always say: "A little bit of a lot is better than a whole lot of nothing!!".
    daRktoweR likes this.
  19. oz_in_ohio

    oz_in_ohio New Member

    Personally i would soak them all in hot water to get them off that acid free paper fist...The ink of the writing may bleed onto the stamps so try to not place the parts of the paper that has been writting on in the water as well as the stamp...Then once that it done and stamps soaked off, place the wet stamps between sheets of a newspaper or magazine or phone book etc to take the excess water off and then place in a towel...I would then try to get a pre loved or world catalogue a dealer would like to heavily discount to you and then start the work in sorting..They will not just give it to you so please dont kid yourself...However the price will be heavily discounted ( if pre 2017 ) . If you cant get one, you may have to take the stamps to the local library ( as i used to when i was a kid ) and work on them there as the catalogue is classified as a reference book and cannot be taken out to be borrowed. A scotts or stanley gibbons color guide and perforation gauge may come in handy. I have a few of each.... Just remember if you have something good, you have to spend money to make money.... As a retired stamp dealer from australia, i used to charge people $15 per quarter of an hour to value a collection as it is my brains they were picking...Inagining you taking your anilmal to a vet..He had to study to become the surgeon...This does not mean someone would but it for that as there is a buying and a selling price....You also have to decide to do want the value for resale, insurance or just to be inquisitive as there are 3 different prices...Unfortunately i have experienced people wanting to use dealers brains and not sell the collection so that is why most of them charge for the valuations. If you find the stamps have yellowed with age, that is possibly rust or toning.... Before you soak any off, ask another advenced collector what they would do...... You can use a kitchon knife as you dont need to buy tweezers.....Remember to keep the stamps in the water when peeling them off the paper... Others may disagree with me but i am only giving you 43 years of experience...However you will do as you wish....have a nice day
  20. James-2489

    James-2489 Well-Known Member

    Hello all, when soaking stamps I prefer not to use newspaper or magazines for drying, too much risk of ink bleedthrough. I use the re-useable silicone 'Oven sheets' or 'Cook sheets' and blotting paper. If left to dry afterwards, the sheets can be used hundreds of times. You can cut the sheet down to A4 or leave full size. An advantage over a drying book is that they only cost about a dollar per pack.

    Regards, James
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