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General Philatelic/Newcomer Cnr : Separating stamps that are stuck together

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swschultz
24 Feb 2019
05:36:46am
I'm brand new to the forum and other than having a collection when I was a child basically new to stamps.

With that having been said, recently I bought an old stamp collection at an estate sale. The stamps look to mainly range from the 1960's or so back to the 1860's. Throughout the stamp book there are literally dozens and dozens of stamps that all fell towards the bound edge of the pages and are either stuck to each other and/or stuck to the page. They have been sandwiched this way for years.

I've read through the posts that I found on this site with regards to using things such as lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol, etc., to separate stamps. My concern is whether this is really the best way to go to separate these? Though as stated my stamp knowledge is extremely limited, I'm guessing that there may possibly be some semi-valuable stamps in this book. I just don't know what the best method is to minimize any damage to some potentially valuable stamps.

If using something such as rubbing alcohol is appropriate, I've heard people on this site mention things like "soaking". Does soaking actually mean soaking, or just getting the stamps wet enough to separate, or something else? Once separated, how best to insure that they remain flat? Do you put them between something such as wax paper with a book on top? Forgive my ignorance on this.

Lastly, if there actually are some semi-valuable stamps, how much of an affect will soaking and glue removal have on their value? (I'm guessing a substantial affect).

I'm mainly looking to maximize the profit on the sale of the collection. I don't really want to sell it the way it is since in many cases I can even tell what stamps there are since there are whole stacks stuck together.

Any and all input is deeply appreciated.

Scott

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
24 Feb 2019
08:58:49am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Welcome.

Do not use alcohol, lighter fluid, or other chemicals. Soaking stamps is done in clear, warm or cool (not boiling or extremely hot) water. It will release them from any paper backing or album pages. You can learn more about soaking (and other 'How To's') here
http://stampsmarter.com/learning/Home_HowTo.html

Are you trying to not damage the old album pages? If not, you might want to first cut the stamps from the album. If you want to try to save the pages, then you might try using a small paint brush and 'paint' the water on the stamp until it softens enough to release. A bit to physical coaxing may be ok but do not damage the stamp(s). If you get too aggressive, you might remove paper from the stamp itself, resulting in a 'thin'.
Don

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swschultz
24 Feb 2019
11:49:11pm
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Thanks so much for your response 51. It is greatly appreciated.

It truly sounds like you know the subject matter, though I am though a bit confused when comparing your response to the numerous comments in the following thread:

https://stamporama.com/discboard/disc_main.php?action=20&id=6096

I'm obviously not trying to start a web-war, but at the same time a number of these folks look to know what they're talking about. I'm truly only asking so that I don't go down the wrong path and destroy what I have. Hopefully that makes sense.

With regards, to the stamp book itself, I am not really too concerned with the book. I am happy to remove and cut up pages into small pieces if it helps me get the stamps out and separated.

Regarding a couple of my other questions, do you have a feel for how much damage or degradation in value may occur by soaking/wetting the stamps to separate them? As I also asked, what's the best process of keeping the stamps flat while they dry?

Thank you again any and all who can point me in the right direction on this!

Scott


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michael78651
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25 Feb 2019
12:02:46am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Soaked stamps will separate freely from each other in a few minutes. There should be no damage. Damage that is found will most likely have already been there.

#1 rule about separating stamps stuck together or still on paper:

NEVER PULL THE STAMPS APART, OR PULL THEM OFF THE PAPER (envelope, album page, etc.). That will most certainly damage the stamps.

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25 Feb 2019
03:06:38am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Keep in mind that virtually ALL used stamps that are off paper were soaked off envelopes or parcel wrappers

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jmh67
25 Feb 2019
03:39:50am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Alcohol and other organic solvents are for self-adhesive stuff that cannot be soaked in water. Stamp-Lift and similar products may be good in cases when you do not want to cut whatever the stamps are stuck on to pieces. But for the stamps you have shown, and practically anything until the 2000s, lukewarm water will do the trick. Dry the stamps on white blotting paper, make sure no glue is left on the back (difficult for issues from some countries, but no problem for US stamps). Then you can stack some sheets with stamps in between and put a light weight on top (say, a spectacles case). Once dry, put the stamps between white paper (I use a bound notebook) and put some books on top.

A nice clean, flat stamp always looks better than a curled one with remains of gum and paper on its back. So, if anything, you'll increase rather than decrease the value of the stamps.

Note: There are a few stamp issues with printing ink that runs in water. These may be mentioned in the stamp catalogs. These also give an idea of the relative value of the stamps. Be aware that catalog prices are for flawless specimens with clear cancels, and are rarely ever paid by anybody. Also, the minimum value of a few cents basically reflects the effort to pull the stockbook from the cupboard, leaf through it and pull out a stamp - if at all! So don't expect to pay your next holiday from the sale of the collection.




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Pogopossum
25 Feb 2019
06:06:49pm
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

My two cents: Patience is a virtue. Don't try to force anything.

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swschultz
26 Feb 2019
04:57:38am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Thanks so much for all of the input. It is extremely helpful.

One last question (for now): Regarding cancelled stamps - Do I need to worry about the ink from the actual cancellation running or ruining a stamp?

Thanks again so much.

Scott

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jmh67
26 Feb 2019
06:10:14am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Black and red postmarks are usually waterproof. Purple and blue ink may be something to look out for. But considering that most of the stamps you have shown seem to have been soaked once before, I should not worry. If you are in doubt about a stamp or two, soak them separately.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
26 Feb 2019
08:38:23am
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Scott,

one last thing about soaking, in case it's not already addressed:

separate colored paper from white and manilla envelopes. Treat green and red holiday envelopes as highly contagious color plagues. I usually just throw them away UNLESS there's a stamp I really want, then I soak that by itself in cold water.


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musicman
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APS #213005
26 Feb 2019
08:40:15pm
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

VERY good point, David.

Red colored envelopes bleed horribly when soaking, so don't let them

stay soaking any longer than absolutely necessary!

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sheepshanks
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26 Feb 2019
08:50:22pm
re: Separating stamps that are stuck together

Steer clear of the airmail envelopes with the red and blue stripes they can also bleed,I have also had envelopes where the printed stamp placing marker on the envelope also leached onto the rear of the stamp.

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