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Some Basic Questions

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Valued Member
24 Posts
Posted 12/31/2007   6:44 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add tights24 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Ok, I know nothing about stamps, and since I don't have the luxury like I did at CCF of reading and reading and reading, I'd figure I'd post some of my obvious ones here.

1. How do you remove a stamp from an envelope without damaging the stamp? Or do you not do that to begin with?
2. Is there a certain year in which the pricing on stamps changed dramtically from a collectors stand point?
3. Best way to preserve stamps? I would imagine sunlight can't be good for them.

I'm sure there will be many more.
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Valued Member
315 Posts
Posted 12/31/2007   6:49 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add justabeginner to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I can answer 1 and 3. You normally remove stamps from envelopes by soaking them in water. Eventually they come off. Except Australian ones cause they have the stickiest gum everrr. GRrrr. Stamps are best preserved in stamp albums. :)
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Pillar Of The Community
2866 Posts
Posted 12/31/2007   10:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add t360 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
1) It is ok to remove a stamp from an cover (envelope) if the cover has nothing especially collectible about it. The stamp is carefully clipped from the envelope, leaving enough paper around the edges so as not to damage the perforations tips on the stamp. In the days before self-adhesive stamps, when nearly all stamps had gum arabic on them, they were easy to soak free from the little rectangle of paper using cool water in a basin. Why cool water and not hot water? Because hot water will tend to cause some inks to run and you run the risk of discoloring all the stamps in the water. Also you do not want to try to soak stamps off of the red paper envelopes used for Christmas cards, because the ink will run. Since nowadays nearly all stamps are self-adhesive, it is somewhat harder to get the stamps off and it takes longer depending on the adhesive used.

When the stamps are free of the paper, carefully remove them from the water and allow them to dry on a clean sheet of white paper, face down. When they are practically dry but before they are very dry, transfer them to another fresh sheet of paper, then cover them with a second sheet and place a heavy book on top of the second sheet of paper. This will insure that they dry flat between the sheets of paper. Leave them under the book to press flat for a few days before putting them in your album.

2) The conventional wisdom for US stamps issued after 1940 is that all mint stamps are worth face value (and thus have depreciated with inflation) and used stamps are worth nothing. This is not actually true, since there are many issues since 1940 which have appreciated in value. However you can buy bulk lots of common mint stamps --not current rate, typically 3c-13c stamps so it takes several of them to make up the current 41c rate-- for under face value.

3) The best way for beginners is to buy a three ring binder, some black vario stock sheets and a pair of tongs. Later you can choose to buy a printed album or print album pages on a computer printer.

Yes, keep stamps away from sunlight. Sunlight contains UV radiation which will cause stamps to fade or change color by breaking down the ink pigments.
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Pillar Of The Community
3315 Posts
Posted 01/31/2008   7:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add laswabbie to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I think t360 is right on with his answers. I'd like to add a thought to what he said about question 2 though.

Unless you have a LOT of money to put into your collection, you should look at collecting stamps as a rewarding and fulfilling hobby - not as an investment. Only a tiny fraction of the stamps collected have appreciated in value over the last decade or two, and many, if not most, have actually lost value given inflation.

You can buy a year's worth of fun for $100 or less by buying large lots of used stamps for little money on eBay or elsewhere. Buy a few lots and learn about the history and meaning of the stamp topic - then when you hit the Powerball you can start investing!

Have fun and share your enthusiasm with another person!
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Pillar Of The Community
2866 Posts
Posted 01/31/2008   7:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add t360 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
well put, LaSwabbie
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Pillar Of The Community
2503 Posts
Posted 02/02/2008   9:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add modern_who to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Have never tried t360's drying method using sheets of white paper and allowing stamps to nearly dry before adding another sheet of paper and a book. Have just used paper towels top and bottom sandwiched between newspapers, or years ago when soaking a lot of cheap stamps at once, just the newspapers. Using a piece of waxed paper with stamps face up and a paper towel on top helps insure that any stamps from which the glue can't be removed completely won't stick.

But if you're not doing too many stamps at once, the Desert Magic Drying Book available from stamp supply stores can't be beat. Stamps even come out flat without an awful lot of weight on top and dry more quickly than with paper towels and newspaper.

Have noticed that with some of the recent self adhesive stamps, some strings of the adhesive can end up on top of stamps in soaking, and stick them to the blotter in the book (or wherever you dry them).
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Larry, APS Member

Modern-Vue Stamps on eBay
Edited by modern_who - 02/04/2008 6:04 pm
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