The stamp collectors tools of the trade. Getting Started-

Discussion in 'Stamp Chat' started by Jay, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    Hello and Welcome to the Forum if your new! I hope to achieve a list of tools that stamp collectors should have at their disposal for proper handling and Identification of your stamps. Lets get started. Any suggestions and corrections are welcomed and encouraged! Please feel free add to the list!

    Below is just a few basic tools and some brief descriptions of them.

    Stamp Tongs- These are a tweezer specially designed to aid in handling your stamps without harming them. Usually used when you need to move or inspect your stamps and stamp related items. (Postal cards, cut squares, etc...)

    Magnifier or magnifying glass- Kind of self explanatory. You need to be able to see your beautiful stamps up close and all the little variances and "secret marks" (on US bank note issues) and basically to I.D. and enjoy them in general. Their are many, many different kinds and powers of magnification. I personally like a good jewelers loupe, and large hand held traditional magnifying glass.

    Watermark detector tray & detecting fluid- Simply a little black tray and a fluid that makes watermarks show up better (most of the time anyway). The fluid is not water based so it won't harm the gum but caution should be taken as some of the older watermark fluid was highly flammable like Benzine! Also, another thing to be cautious of is "fugitive inks". These were inks used to thwart the re-use of postage stamps by destroying the stamp image when an attempt at washing off the cancellation and sometimes watermark fluid can effect these. Just do your research and be aware of what your doing and it will be quite enjoyable to see all the different watermarks! Some stamps may look absolutely identical in every way but one may be worth 100's because of the watermark or lack of or differences in them. (single line and double line watermarks)
  2. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    The Perforation gauge-
    They come in as many styles and formats as some countries stamps! Again, they are a must! A stamp sometimes can be a royal pain to I.D., especially if their are a few dozen "different ones" that, of course, all look alike (Like the Washington's and Franklin) and the only way to tell them from one another is by using the good old perf gauge to correctly measure the perforation differences. It is used by helping you count the number or perforations in the space of 2mm and NOT the length of the stamp itself. They also usually have a measured rule on them (like a ruler) in either standard or in millimeters for measuring the vignette or frame lines of your stamp for further identification purposes.​
    It is also good practice to understand how the perforation measurments are written in your identification book and it will look like one of the following examples:​
    Perf 12 (or any number designated to the stamp in question) means that both the top, bottom and sides are all perf 12.​
    Perf 10 x 11 is read horizontally first (top) then going clockwise to the vertical (right side). so 10 is the perf measurement of the top and 11 is the sides.​

    Now, having said all that it can get even trickier, because some stamps can have more than 2 perf measurements! That is why you ALWAYS start at the top and go clockwies. I have never ran across this myself but I assure you they do show up.​

    Here is a scan of mine. it is printed on both the front and back with all the different gauges you'll need.​
  3. kacyds

    kacyds New Member

    Essential Tools and Supplies For the Stamp Collector...
    • An Album. Basic albums that have illustrated spaces for worldwide stamps, U.S. stamps, topicals (animals, railroads, Olympics, etc.) and types of stamps like plate blocks and coils.
    • Hinges or safe vinyl stamp mounts that are used to mount stamps into the albums.
    • Stamp tongs (tweezers specially made for the handling of stamps). By handling stamps with tongs, the collector keeps from damaging the collectibles.
    • Stamp catalogs. These comprehensive publications not only state the current value of stamps, but also help one identify them and receive basic instruction on collecting them.
    • A magnifier that allows one to more closely examine not only a stamp's features, but also its condition.
    • A perforation gauge. The perforations between stamps on a sheet not only aid one in separating them, but these perforations also come in different types and sizes---and determining them aids one in identifying which stamp is which. Sometimes two or more stamps may look alike, but each may have a different perforation type and/or size.
    • A watermark detector which allows one to view the "watermark" (or hidden imprint) that was made on the paper on which a stamp is printed. Again, two or more stamps may look alike, but have different (or no) watermarks.
    • Color Guides. There are several publications available that will help the collector identify the various colors used on stamps from around the world.
    • A stockbook. In some ways similar to albums, except that these are simple storage devices where stamps can be placed in clear pockets on pages for easy sorting and viewing.
    • Glassine envelopes. These come in many sizes and are used to store and help sort stamps.
    • Stamp Periodicals. In addition to the many informational resources for the collector on the Internet, one can subscribe to one or more of the major philatelic newspapers.
    • Ultra-Violet Lamps. These devices are used to detect the hidden phosphorescent materials used in printing stamps---which are applied in the printing process. Such ultra-violet inks help automatic sorting machines detect how much postage has been used on a piece of mail.
    • Stamp-Lifting Fluids. These products are used to safely remove stamps from various forms of paper. Employed when water soaking will not accomplish the lifting.
    But most of all, have fun.....:cool:
    James-2489, Steve Robinson and Jay like this.
  4. kacyds

    kacyds New Member

    I almost forgot, It helps if you have a big comfy chair and a cold beverage. lol :D
    James-2489 likes this.
  5. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    A Scott or Micheal catalog to ID your stamps with! I cant believe I forgot that one! Any reference material on I.D.-ing your collection is almost paramount.
  6. kacyds

    kacyds New Member

    If you cant afford that, just request a free Mystic catolog. Good for US stamps. Thats a great start for beginners.
  7. Darrin

    Darrin Active Member

    I rely on our local library a lot for up-to-date Scott Catalogs. They purchase the complete set each year (not the two specialized however, much to my frustration) and I am able to keep up to date on newer stamps I recieve. Sometimes the 3 to 6 week time period to borrow is not sufficient so I will photocopy the country or pages that I need.
    kacyds likes this.
  8. Sarahrtw

    Sarahrtw Active Member

    I'm bumping this topic to the top, because it has a great information. Please feel free to add to it.
  9. Philactica

    Philactica Active Member

    What about:-

    A guillotine

    A paper thickness gauge

    A scanner

    A Computer

    A press for flatening the stamp evenly

    Plotting paper or drying book or newspaper for soaked stamps

    A friend with whom you can exchange ideas

    A Spider who eats all the fishmoths

    Mothballs for those fishmoths the spider missed.

    A dog you can curse when you accidently tore a stamp and he still wags his tail at your dismay.

    A nice cuppa before you open the mail with the expected exchange pack.

    A Post Office where you can spend on the latest new issue.

    All labourers tools for the philatelist.
    Sarahrtw likes this.
  10. Sarahrtw

    Sarahrtw Active Member

    A great list, Philactica, excellent items and love the humour with the dog.
  11. zararina

    zararina Simply Me! :D

    It is great to really revive this thread! :)

    "A dog you can curse when you accidently tore a stamp and he still wags his tail at your dismay"

    LOL, I have not done that as it was too hard to curse a cutie doggie! :p

    I just would like to add a "forum" where we could ask the experts to help us identify stamps and other sort of things about it.
    Sarahrtw likes this.
  12. Sarahrtw

    Sarahrtw Active Member

    I have to agree Zararina, I couldn't cuss at a cute dog or my cute cats. Even if they do laugh at me (or demand my attention when I[m working on my collection)

    Great addition, about the forum ;)
  13. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    The essentials have been pretty well described so I won't elaborate any more on them. I'll just add a couple of quotes.

    "The postage stamp is a flimsy thing
    No thicker than a beetle's wing
    And yet it will roam the world for you
    Exactly where you tell it to"

    - EV Lucas

    "Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste".

    - W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright.
    Sarahrtw likes this.
  14. tu7

    tu7 Well-Known Member

    Do you guys use fingers, gloved fingers or tongs?
  15. Sarahrtw

    Sarahrtw Active Member

    For regular stamps, I hold the edges. For older stamps, I'd use tongs. But my tongs aren't very good and the stamp is always slipping, so I might get some cotton gloves instead, or better tongs.
  16. Circus

    Circus Active Member

    Could be a tool for the collectors that have a Hobby Lobby near them. Small selection of name brand collectors supplies, mounts, hinges large bags, mounts some general beginer collector albums and of course the large pouches/bags of stamps world USA etc.

    Weekly coupon,40% off one item regular price. I have printed more than one and made trips between the store and car. Most times there are more than one cashier and it isn't a problem, the one time a young lady did question me that she had seen me in the store earlier. I told he it must have been my evil twin brother! She just got a confused look on her face and rang the item up!

    Only other caveat is they are closed on Sundays.
  17. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    I have stamp tongs that are at a slight angle, works well for me.
  18. tu7

    tu7 Well-Known Member

    I prefer them H, even though the experts claim rounded ones are less likely to damage the stamp.
  19. LonerWolf

    LonerWolf New Member

    Well.. really huge thanks for creating this fantastic list of useful tools.. And of course, the cold beverage is essential.. hehe :)
  20. Sarahrtw

    Sarahrtw Active Member

    Just be careful not to spill said beverage on your stamps!! Best to have it before/after your work or take a break if you get thirsty ;)
    zararina likes this.
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