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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Trash or treasure

25 Jan 2016
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Hello everyone.

I'm new to philately—I can barely pronounce it. My father passed away this July and one of his few hobbies was collecting stamps. More to the point, he loved going to local auctions and bidding on all kinds of printed matter. While my dad had fun purchasing these materials he didn't really take care of them and take steps to archive or preserve the stamps. I haven't scratched the surface of his collection yet, but I have a question for the forum.

Some of the letters he purchased are damaged. They look like there is water damage and perhaps mold or fungus growing on some of the letters. I've read in forums that:

• Mold and fungus has the potential to spread and ruin a collection.
• Old letters and correspondence can be desirable—don't just soak off the stamps.
• Cleaning stamps (killing mold and fungus) can damage the stamps and is also highly debatable.

Many of the letters are smashed, crusted, and mildewed together. I'll attach a photo of a cover and also some stamps I removed so you can help me determine how to proceed. What (if anything) is the best course of action to take?

Thanks in advance for your time.

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26 Jan 2016
re: Trash or treasure

Well, if you have a piece, stamp, whatever, that is basically a candidate for the trash bin, go ahead and try to preserve it. Give it a bath in ammonia and see what happens. With covers that have stamps attached you'll have to be careful not to leave it in the liquid for too long or else the stamps will come loose. With the loose stamps, just give them a bath in the ammonia for about a minute or so. Slosh the liquid around and see if the stamps come clean. There's nothing to lose by the attempt. You would have thrown the stamps away anyway. Best to experiment with disposable stamps before trying it out on keepers.

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26 Jan 2016
re: Trash or treasure

And, any cover addressed to a Miss Dimples Patterson, just has to be given a chance.

Welcome to SOR!


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