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Cleaning & Storage Questions

 
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Author Previous TopicReplies: 12 / Views: 480Next Topic  
Valued Member
United States
20 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   09:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add rainingstamps to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
1. I recently read a cleaning post that mentioned calcium hydroxide. Could anyone provide more specific instructions—including mixing the solution?

2. Several months ago, I cleaned a selection of very dirty stamps from a flea market find. I quarantined those items from my regular collection. Does anyone have advice on how long the quarantine period should last?

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. And, thank you a million times over for all your past assistance!

Since I know everyone here likes photos, here's one of the coffee mug a sweet student gave me this year. Maybe I talk about my collection too much in class?


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Pillar Of The Community
United Kingdom
6453 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   09:36 am  Show Profile Check GeoffHa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As many of us will recall, one way to make lessons go better is to get the teacher off his or her subject and onto his or her leisure interest. Ah, and there's the bell!
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
865 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   10:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Caper123 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have never attempted to clean a stamp. I've seen far too many faded stamps through the years where someone botched an attempt to eliminate a cancellation. I'll be interested in seeing other replies to your post though.
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Pillar Of The Community
4347 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   10:31 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add John Becker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To take the points in turn.

1. I don't why anyone would recommend cleaning stamps with a calcium hydroxide solution. Where did you find this idea? Can you provide a link? It sounds VERY misguided. The vast majority of stamps soak/clean just fine with cool tap water.

2. Uhh, quarantine and stamps are two words not often found together. if they were that dirty, then discarding them may be the better course of action.

But to keep an open mind, a few pictures would help us better understand what you have and its condition.
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Valued Member
United States
418 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   10:40 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Germania to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Calcium hydroxide has several uses including as a component in mortar, and pickling of food. It's also considered corrosive to skin so I would not want it anywhere near stamps.

Most stamps can be soaked in cool, potable water. A few stamps should never be soaked; the catalog will usually provide a warning for those.
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Pillar Of The Community
Learn More...
United States
1106 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   10:45 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add danstamps54 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
John,
I think this may be the link the OP is referring to:
http://goscf.com/t/63879

If I remember my chemistry, it's slaked lime. It's used in some industrial applications including making paper.

It seems to me you are essentially bleaching the stamp. That's not a recommended procedure.

Like John, I only would recommend tepid tap water.

Dan
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Experienced stamps need a home too. I'd rather have an example that is imperfect than no example.
I collect for enjoyment, not investment.
APS Member #223433
Postmark Collectors Club Member #6333
Meter Stamp Society Member #1409
Pillar Of The Community
4347 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   10:51 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add John Becker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Ahh, I see that post now. There is a lot of bad (and just wrong) chemistry and poor advice in that thread. It would be better if it were deleted.
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Valued Member
United States
20 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   12:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rainingstamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Geoff: How true! At least stamps are relatable to geography!

Becker, Dan, Caper, & Germania: I'm a little obsessed with preservation so I always ask. I want to clean to prevent future damage without causing other damage. That is the very post I read.

Becker: I will reply a little later with photos. Just know that I wore a mask while processing some of this "bargain".
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United States
1106 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   12:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add danstamps54 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Raining,
If you search the threads here you can find ways to get rid of the smell (smoke must etc.) without chemicals.
Using chemicals can alter the stamp and create long-term problems.
If you find mold, I strongly suggest you "quarantine" the stamps from your collection forever. Mold can wreak havoc on a collection and If they aren't valuable, I would consider throwing them out.

Dan
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Experienced stamps need a home too. I'd rather have an example that is imperfect than no example.
I collect for enjoyment, not investment.
APS Member #223433
Postmark Collectors Club Member #6333
Meter Stamp Society Member #1409
Valued Member
United States
20 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   1:29 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rainingstamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Cleaned in water only except block. Bottom photo is part of a mount in the box—note the detritus. ( And that's not my hair! )






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Valued Member
United States
20 Posts
Posted 06/20/2022   1:44 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rainingstamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Dan,

I don't do anything without a consensus from this forum's pillars! I wore the mask because I had no knowledge of what type of critters may have shared space with the box in the past.

I've pulled a few nice things from the box. The unperf above (assuming it truly is) is the nicest thing I had handy, as it was in a "questionables" envelope.

It's nice to see things on your desk that you've only ever viewed in photos!

Best,
Raining
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
959 Posts
Posted 06/21/2022   2:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mootermutt987 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have soaked stamps in just 3 different fluids:

1) Water. Probably the most useful solvent, and likely the safest for stamps.
2) Watermark fluid / lighter fluid. A great solvent for the greasy / oily stuff. MOSTLY safe, but it can destroy SOME stamps.
3) Soapy water. Like 1 drop of clear dish soap in a quart-ish of water. This has been controversial and debatable here on SCF. Afterwards, I soak the stamps in MULTIPLE separate water baths in order to 'rinse' all the soap out of the paper. The stamps end up soaking for a total of a day or two - the rinse can't possibly be done too much. I don't think I have ever done this with anything of any significant value - just with cheapies that would have been thrown out otherwise.

Carbon Tetrachloride used to be a component in watermark fluid, but is now considered a carcinogen, so I would use it on stamps if I had easy access, but only in a well ventilated area. I expect that anything done in carbon tet could be (mostly) done with regular watermark fluid.

After that, I wouldn't use anything else, except to experiment on cheapies, fully expecting to toss them afterward. The 3 fluids listed above solve 95% of the things that you are likely to see on stamps. I consider the other 5% as unsavable.
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Valued Member
United States
10 Posts
Posted 06/24/2022   12:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bigtoe to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A few years back a friend who owned a cafe was cleaning using Carbon Tetrachloride.

He was found dead by his wife. Very dangerous stuff.

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