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Color Shades Of The 1851-57 3c Washington And H2o2

 
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Posted 09/19/2019   10:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Philazilla to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I am studying shades of the 1851-57 Washington. I have treated four stamps with 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. Each of these stamps was scanned first, then submerged in H2O2 for 90 seconds, then rinsed off in water, dried and scanned again on identical equipment and settings. The changes in color were drastic.

All four of these stamps were color-identified by either Chase or Amonette, and likely changed color in the last 10-60 years.

I picked 4 stamps that looked a bit off compared to other references.

I'm considering doing this treatment on many more of my stamps, but I do not want to damage or alter them. I know some consider this treatment to be a major alteration that should be noted if selling them. I believe Bill Amonette did the H2O2 treatment and did not disclose when he did or didn't.

Is it generally accepted that a gentile H2O2 treatment removes sulphurization or oxidation and basically cleans the stamp bringing it to a more original color?

How do you know which stamps need this treatment?

Here is some dramatic eye candy for you. . .

Bright OB Before:


Bright OB After:


Deep EOB Before:


Deep EOB After:


Deep Yellowish Dull Red Before


Deep Yellowish Dull Red After


Medium Yellowish Brown Before


Medium Yellowish Brown After
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Posted 09/19/2019   10:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Bill was a very liberal user of H2O2.

Any stamp that he owned or expertised has a decent non-zero chance of having been treated.

You are correct, that at least for the 3c stamp, careful & sensible peroxide treatment in general is neither disclosed nor considered a problem, in general.

Odd as it may seem, but for 3c color collecting I just always viewed H2O2 as a necessary supply (like tongs) - i.e. you can't properly colorize many stamps without it.
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Posted 09/20/2019   12:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hy-brasil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Colors as originally described, I'm pretty sure.

I assume you're using standard household hydrogen peroxide, which is a 3% solution. There is much stronger available but not recommended.
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Posted 09/20/2019   03:05 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
"...careful & sensible peroxide treatment..."

txstamp,
What does this mean? How many times can a stamp be exposed to peroxide over its lifetime? How do you determine how many times a stamp has previously been exposed to peroxide?


Quote:
I am studying shades of the 1851-57 Washington...

'Shade' means a color mixed with black (easy to remember since the term 'shade' is so descriptive).


Don
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Posted 09/20/2019   08:16 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Philazilla to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'll be sure to say "I'm studying the hues, tints, tones, and shades of the 3c Washington," going forward.
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Posted 09/20/2019   08:57 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Consistent use of the correct nomenclature has value in specialized threads.

For example, the term 'mint' to a non-stamp collector means 'an item in really good condition'. "That old desk is in mint condition." There are multiple threads in this community that chastise eBay sellers and classified them as 'clueless' because they misused the philatelic specific meaning of the term 'mint'.

In the same way if you join a color theory forum (there are a number of them) where colorists and people like artists, commercial printers, and photographers participate, they will call you out for using incorrect terminology like 'shade' when you really mean 'hue'.

Explicit terms helps avoid misunderstandings and helps keep everyone on the same page.
Don
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Posted 09/20/2019   09:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would note that the Philatelic Foundation only uses the term "shade" when rendering opinions.
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Posted 09/20/2019   09:37 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If accuracy and clarity matters, I would think that they might want to change this moving forward.
Don
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Posted 09/20/2019   11:43 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What does this mean? How many times can a stamp be exposed to peroxide over its lifetime? How do you determine how many times a stamp has previously been exposed to peroxide?


I mean that a collector should first develop a repeatable methodology for performing H2O2 treatment, prior to using it on a nice stamp. Learn how to do it with lousy copies. Water (H2O) is your friend, and make sure to apply it to stop the reaction. Don't over-expose the stamp to H2O2 (see below).

The long term question(s) you raise are certainly valid concerns.

One of the nice things about applying H2O2 is that it fairly quickly reacts with the sulphuretted areas on the stamp, removing that, typically, well before it "visibly" chemically affects the ink of the stamp. That affords a decent window of opportunity to stop the reaction by applying water, well before obvious visible damage is done to the ink/color of the stamp itself.

I am not going to pretend that there isn't some chemical alteration to the ink taking place that is not obvious. It seems likely that there probably is some small breakdown of the ink that would start, but is then stopped by applying water. The quicker the better to stop this.

I will state that simply by empirical evidence of the many times I've done this, and many friends of mine have done it, that this is a viable process (using H2O2). I never ruined a stamp doing this, at least not to my knowledge. They always came out appearing the same or better than before, and they were restored to what I'll deem a "proper" color - one that the 3c stamp is known in - not some artificial bleached-appearing color.

So, assuming that there is some small chemical breakdown of the ink each time this is done --- how small is it, and how many times before the ink becomes visibly altered? I don't know. Its a very valid and good question, and something, as time goes by, that would benefit us to monitor however possible.

I suppose someone could experiment, by taking a lousy copy of a 3c stamp, and just repeat the procedure over and over again, and observe carefully when the stamp ink appears to breakdown. That would be one, inexact method, but might provide a useful datapoint.

Bill and others recanted numerous experiences to me of treating and re-treating certain stamps, usually Plums, or near-Plums that they expected to change with H2O2, but didn't. This, because they were in their correct color which just kind of looked sulphuretted (read: Plum). So for these stamps, they were already treated multiple times just to verify the color.

I'll close by saying that H2O2 treatment involves applying chemicals to a stamp to achieve a goal. We can make an apples to oranges comparison with Watermark fluid - aka Ronsonol/Clarity. Totally different chemicals, and reasons for using, but doing anything to a stamp probably has some modest long term effect. We've had discussions on those, with feedback which has driven some people to use Clarity, to minimize long term damage. I don't think we have a substitute for H2O2 here. The 3c stamps have always struck me as being pretty colorfast with reasonably short treatments as I discussed previously.

Any new and better information or observations on this of course are very welcome.
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Posted 09/20/2019   12:13 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
hi tx,
I concur with your post and your observations. I have not seen damage but I also would say that those stamps which were originally discolored seemed to revert back quicker than similar stamps stored in the same environment.

Ultimately the question becomes; does the end justify the means? Are we tilting at windmills, chasing something that is clearly ephemeral. It reminds me of painting a show car. Every time I have dropped big bucks on a show car paint job I quickly realize that it is temporary. Even pure pigment changes chemistry/color over time, never mind paint and inks which are made with pigments.

So in applying chemicals like peroxide are we simply making ourselves feel better for a short period of time? And if this is the case, perhaps it is best to avoid applying chemicals.

And how do we define the application of peroxide? Is it a restoration or is it a preservation?

Preservation is defined as keeping an object from destruction and seeing to it that the object is not irredeemably altered or changed.

Restoration is defined as treatment procedures intended to return objects to a known or assumed state.

Without definitive evidence that we are not making permanent chemicals changes to the ink/paper the concern is that it is a restoration. Ideally we should be recommending and promoting preservation and be leery of recommending restoration.

Lastly, when folks buy restored things the generally accepted practice is to tell them that it has been restored and not pass it off as 'original condition'. Yet it is very rare that a listing or a seller would disclose this information for stamps. I guess we all just assume that certain stamps have been through chemical hell and back over the decades.
Don
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Posted 09/20/2019   12:40 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wert to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
So in applying chemicals like peroxide are we simply making ourselves feel better for a short period of time? And if this is the case, perhaps it is best to avoid applying chemicals.


10/4 Don...CORRECT

1 - I have a large coin collection..I was cleaning some coins until I was informed that I was removing the natural patina..the piece would be called altered and worth less

2 - I did collect antiques at one time and was told NEVER change the patina, the piece would be called altered and worth less.

3- - Removing the patina from a stamp...You guessed it..the piece would be called altered and worth less

Why should stamps be any different..?

Robert

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Posted 09/20/2019   1:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A historical perspective -

It is interesting that this whole branch of collecting colors of the 3c stamp was spawned by Carroll Chase, who wrote the book on the subject.

In his book, he discusses H2O2 treatment:


Quote:
Sulfureted stamps ordinarily can be restored to approximately their original color by immersion for a short time in a peroxide of hydrogen solution. If left in contact with this agent too long the stamp will fade badly.


This is the 1942 revised edition, but I suspect it was also in the 1929 edition. So this whole way of collecting 3c colors goes way back.
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Posted 09/20/2019   2:45 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting Chase quote.


Quote:
Sulfureted stamps ordinarily...

'Ordinarily' implies that some stamps cannot be changed and/or do not readily change. This leads to the question of why? Are there differences between stamps in changeability? Or is it just that hydrogen peroxide is quite unstable after opening and becomes much less effective after the bottle has been opened for a while?


Quote:
...can be restored...

Interesting that he uses the word restored, meaning that that he understood that he was permanently altering stamps from their original condition. Once you restore a classic car if will never again be an original car. Once you restore a stamp it will never again be an original stamp.


Quote:
...to approximately their original color...

How did he know for sure what the original color was? But assuming that he did know, his statement is 'approximately their original color'.

So I am taking away from this statement is that he acknowledges that he is restoring stamps (not conserving stamps) and that his restorations only approximates the original colors.

If you take the position that peroxide treatment is not a permanent change, then you are acknowledging what you are doing is indeed just temporary and ephemeral.

this brings me back to...why take a chance with cumulative damage? I think that many people do this because it simply makes them feel better. They think, 'gee, the stamp I bought is even better than I thought'. Instant gratification, no immediate indication of damage, let the next guy worry about if the stamp is damaged long-term.

Is this being good stewards of the historical material we process? Or is this rolling the dice and just hoping that we are not doing harmful things?
Don
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Posted 09/20/2019   3:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Dealers call it " conserved".
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Posted 09/20/2019   3:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don, I don't think that most 3c color collectors would be doing this to make the stamp 'better', so much as just trying to determine what the real/underlying color is. That's the real issue.

A sulphuretted stamp usually has to be treated in order to be colorized. That's the conundrum.

So, without H2O2 treatment, 3c color collecting takes a big hit, is the point.

I have always viewed H2O2 treatment as restoration. I acknowledge the issues with that and point back to my prior post as explanation, justification, etc.

I also acknowledge that it is very worthwhile to bring all of this into the light a bit, and revisit how this is done. I have always found this area to be a curious branch of 3c collecting. Its very interesting, but I recall many a good laugh that Wilson Hulme and I had over all the chemically treated stamps in Amonette's collection, and whatever that really meant...
Of course we had our own collections! C'est la vie.
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Posted 09/20/2019   3:26 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
tx,
I agree that many/most 3c color collectors have other reasons to alter their stamps. And I would go to the carpet fighting for their right to do with their stamps as they wished to do. (Obviously not good stewardship to light cigars with your stamps, but they are your stamps.)

If a sulphuretted stamp usually has to be treated in order to be colorized, and that treated stamps will eventually revert back to their sulphuretted color...then what is the point of color collecting? If I invited you over to view my collection, would I dip every stamp the day before you come over or would I just try to convince you that the stamps in this row are really an orange color?

And for me, this is not about the smaller number of 3c collectors who are making serious attempts at color study, it is about the bigger majority of more casual collectors who read this forum and are grabbing the peroxide bottles as they read threads like this. Hey, if 3% hydrogen peroxide is good, then 6%-10% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach) must be even better!
Don
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