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Removing Gum From Mint Stamps

 
 
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Posted 10/16/2019   9:59 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Soda Ant to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I'm reading a book on stamp collecting ("Stamps" by James Mackay) and he says that many museums remove the gum from mint stamps:

"Ironically, most museums, more acutely aware of the need for conservation than private collectors, now operate a policy of removing gum from stamps, realising that this substance is not chemically inert and often poses a very real threat to the paper, especially the very brittle papers of many classic stamps."

Is this actually the case? It sounds rather far-fetched to me.
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Posted 10/17/2019   08:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DaveG28 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I agree with you...why would a museum do that? The stamps are no longer mint, in my opinion. I have to believe any museum worth it's salt knows how to preserve many types of paper.
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Posted 10/17/2019   08:43 am  Show Profile Check GeoffHa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It will depend on a museum's view of the current and future condition of the stamp(s). My memory is that the block of four 1 Franc Ceres vermilion had its gum removed in the 1950s (not by a museum) to prevent likely future damage (image from Richard F's site)

https://www.rfrajola.com/lafayette/page6.htm

As the saying goes, 100% of nothing is bugger all.
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Posted 10/17/2019   09:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add m and m to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
a number of German souvenir sheets of late 1930's issues are noted by Scott to have gum containing sulfuric acid and a recommendation to removing it along with pricing them accordingly. I am sure this has occurred in other issues as well. very thick streaky gum on older issues can cause cracking over time and this is another reason for possible removal. GeoffHa has it right on. better preservation than loss through indifference.
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Posted 10/17/2019   09:39 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Germania to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
James Mackay published a lot of books starting in the early 1960's through the early 2000's, with most in the 1970's and 1980's. Museum practice has changed since then (I would hope).

His Wikipedia article is interesting to read; he had more than a few questionable ethical issues.
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Posted 10/17/2019   10:43 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dudley to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have read that in days of yore before gum condition became a factor in stamp valuation some dealers would advise collectors to soak the gum off unused stamps in the belief (founded on experience or surmise?)that over time the gum would damage the stamp paper.
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Posted 10/17/2019   12:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jarnick to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I remember that in my early days of collecting George W. Linn advocating the removal of gum from mint stamps as a preservative measure. However, I doubt that he ever soaked any gum off of his mint stamps.
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Posted 10/17/2019   2:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hy-brasil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
That Scott recommendation is very old and quite useless now. I wouldn't dare try to soak gum from (say) the OSTROPA souvenir sheet. The damage has already been done and is pretty severe in most cases - major thinning including complete erosion of the marginal watermark, perfs eaten away, severe staining, paper cracking and breaking. If the gum wasn't removed a long time ago, those are invariably faulty and can only get worse. The exception seems to be OSTROPA covers, but traces of damage are often present there.

It's not only potentially the gum that's a problem. Paper made from wood pulp is definitely acidic to varying degrees.





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Edited by hy-brasil - 10/17/2019 2:38 pm
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Posted 10/18/2019   02:51 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Louise411 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello again from Trench Town,

This set of postings is a wonderful example of the fact that the glue is not the stamp. Also, I have read on this SCF that it is best to remove glue if you live in hot humid areas.

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Posted 10/20/2019   8:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DrewM to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It's interesting how hard people will fight to preserve what is perhaps the least important part of the stamp, the adhesive on the back. The only purpose of the glue is (was) to adhere the stamp to the paper. As a collectable, the glue serves no purpose at all other than making a potential buyer feel his stamp is untouched, mint, or "post office fresh," as they say, and therefore worth more. But that value is only high because everyone believes MNH stamps are worth more. If they change their mints to prefer stamps without glue because they're safer to collect, there goes most of your collection's value.

There's nothing wrong with collecting mint stamps with their original glue on the back, or at least there isn't if the glue does no damage to the stamp. As stamp values are currently calculated, that clearly keeps their prices higher than otherwise. But if there is a chance of damage, then logically removing the glue would make sense.

I collect the images on stamps, the engravings, the designs. I don't collect glue. I don't want the back of my stamps to show damage, of course, but other than that I really don't care if someone has written in pencil on the back, as many dealers and collectors used to do. I don't care if the glue is "disturbed" or there's a hinge mark. Even a hinge remnant is fine, especially if buying that particular stamp saves me 50-75% off the MNH price. I'll buy hinged unused stamps all day long at lower prices they typically sell for.

Unused stamps without glue sell for lower prices. If stamps are also safer to collect without their glue on the back, you have two good reasons why stamps without glue would be appealing.

The big question is whether the glue or gum on the back of stamps does any damage. In my experience, there doesn't seem to be much, at least when carefully dealt with by collectors who know what they're doing, and when mounted in stamp mounts. But at some point in the life of a stamp, it's going to be handled by someone who is less careful or who doesn't use mounts. The glue on the back of the stamp can get accidentally licked along with the hinge. In a humid environment, the glue often adheres the supposedly perfect stamp to the album page. If the glue itself also acted as a cause of damage, for example by stiffening on old stamp so that it cracks and breaks, as can happen, that's another reason for not keeping glue on stamps. And, if glue on stamps has a chemistry that damages the paper in any way, that would clearly be even worse.

So far, so good. Stamps with glue seem fine most of the time. But mint stamps glued to album pages by accident is not so rare. Those stamps may not be salvageable. Since this and other glue-related problems may damage stamps, I wonder if the current insistence on "mint" stamps with glue left intact will someday look to future collectors like a really bad idea?
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Edited by DrewM - 10/20/2019 8:46 pm
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Posted 10/20/2019   9:23 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add itma to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
But then, some (many?) collectors value the history of the stamp, which would include how and why a stamp was manufactured in a particular way. Other collectors may just e interested in obtains all versions of a particular stamp. A good example is a Famous Women series from Australia which wad made with three types/colours of gum to keep the stamps usable in the various Australian climates.


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