What we collect!
Stamporama Discussion Board Logo
For People Who Love To Talk About Stamps


99 visitors online

General Philatelic/Gen. Discussion : UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

AuthorPostings
Fred_villali
13 Feb 2010
06:32:39pm
I recently returned to stamp collecting after 30+ years. Way back we didn't have tagging, so I know 'beans' about UV lamps. I know I'd need a UV lamp to help identify some stamps. Question: I don't want to spend a lot of money since I'm just working with contemporary, relatively inexpensive, strictly U.S. stamps. What's your recommendation?
Like
Login to Like
this post
Sponthetrona2
Members Picture

Keep Postal systems alive, buy stamps and mail often
13 Feb 2010
09:01:14pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Never needed a UV lamp, ever! I actually have one that I picked up a a garage sale for 25 cents ... but never used it on stamps. I still use the scan, invert, and change colors method vs known stamps. Perry

Like
Login to Like
this post
Saleem
Members Picture

13 Feb 2010
11:46:45pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Hi Fred,
Like you when I first ventured into the bright world of tagging I started asking questions about every aspect of this glowing part of the hobby. There were many short replies and there was one excellent explaination at a website. I saved all that information onto my hard disk for future references and for sharing with others, so here it is except for the data on Joann's webpage where types of UV lamps are explained which you can read here:
http://stampsjoann.net/ftp/tagging3.txt

A brief outline of what tagging is about.

Before tagging was used, cancelling the stamps on letters was a very manually intensive process. A postal clerk had to face the letter the right way so that it was fed through the cancelling machine and the stamps were properly cancelled. As mail volume increased, this required a huge amount of labor for the USPOD (as it was known back then). To reduce the labor costs, the solution was to automate the process with a machine.

Around 1954, the USPOD began experimenting with fluorescent compounds. These compounds were mostly phosphor based. These compounds "glow" when exposed to ultraviolet light (UV rays). By applying fluorescent materials to stamps and developing special machines to detect the glow of the fluorescent material, a machine could "see" where the stamps were at and face the letter so that it was fed into the cancelling machine in the right side and direction.

In 1963, Scott #C64a, the 8¢ Airmail issue, was produced with tagging and was the first stamp the USPOD used for experimenting with the new canceling machines. In 1963, the 5¢ City Mail Delivery issue (Scott #1238) was the first commemorative stamp produced with tagging applied to all stamps produced. Since then, hundreds of US stamps have appeared with tagging.

An ultra-violet (UV) light is essential to determining the type of taggant. You can buy a UV light that has either a short-wave filter or a long-wave filter. I recommend buying a lamp that has both filters in a single unit. The short-wave detects the type of tagging and long-wave detects paper types used for printing a stamp.

Tagging is a clear compound. Think of it as an "invisible" ink to the naked eye. Over the years, the USPS has experimented with several different ways of applying the tagging compound. First, the stamp is printed and then the tagging is printed on top of the stamp design. Second, the tagging compound is mixed in with the paper when the paper is manufactured. And third, the tagging compound is mixed in with the stamp printers' ink.

Overall tagging comes in several different forms. There is continuous tagging where the tagging compound was applied from edge to edge of the sheet of stamps. There is block tagging where there are untagged gaps between the tagged areas. Why block tagging? Well, the tagging compound is abrasive to the tiny perforating pins, causing them to wear out faster. The USPS switched to block tagging so that most of the face of the stamp was covered with tagging. But the area between the stamps where the perforations would fall was left untagged so that the perforation pins didn't wear out so quickly.

Suffice to say, there are several different ways that tagging was applied to stamps as the USPS experimented with different compounds, applications, etc to find a method that worked best.
Some stamp issues come in both untagged and tagged versions. In other words, the stamp was originally printed in an untagged form. But in later printings when tagging was available, the later printings are tagged. These issues are not errors, just normal varieties of the same stamp issue. Scott #C64 is one such stamp. Scott #1209 and #1213 are two other regular issue stamps with both tagged and untagged copies.

Because tagging is invisible to the naked eye, it's very difficult to inspect stamps for production problems. Some stamps are known with tagging omitted.

Untagged errors are usually when the tagging compound reservoir runs empty and the printing press operator doesn't notice it. These are errors because that stamp was intended to be only released as a tagged issue. Scott #1238a is one such tagging omitted error. Tagging errors are listed in the Scott catalog. Some tagging omitted errors are common and some are very rare. There are also a wide variety of tagging freaks and oddities. For example, if the reservoir was running low on tagging compound, the tagging on the stamp may be spotty or uneven. Or for block tagging, the sheet of stamps may have become shifted so that the untagged areas cross the face of the stamp design instead of being between the stamp designs. Tagging varieties is a fertile field for research and there are discoveries just waiting to be made for someone with the time and patience to search through a lot of stamps looking for varieties.

Tagging glows reddish or bluish-green when exposed to short wave UV light. Reddish tagging was only used for air mail stamps from 1963 to 1978. Beginning with the 1978 31¢ Wright Brothers (Scott C91-C92), bluish-green tagging was used for all subsequent air mail stamps.

If you want to learn more about tagging, I strongly recommend the "Handbook on United States Luminescent Stamps" by Alfred "Tag" Boerger and John Stark. Originally published in 1971, this book is still the authority on the subject. This title should be readily available at any of the philatelic literature dealers. If you're interested in tagged stamps, this book is worth its weight in gold.

Warning: Do not look into the bulb of a UV lamp! It is very damaging to eyesight. If you're not sure if the bulb is working or not, test it by shining it on a stamp that you know is tagged. Do not test the bulb by looking at it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
continued in second part

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Experience is the name you give to the mistakes you made yesterday."
Saleem
Members Picture

13 Feb 2010
11:49:50pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Second part:

Glossary

Luminescence - the light given off by fluorescent brighteners and phosphorescent tagging in paper and ink when activated by ultraviolet light.

Ultraviolet Light - light beyond the visible spectrum used to detect luminescence. Long wave ultraviolet light is commonly used to detect fluorescent brighteners, while short wave is used to detect phosphor tagging.

Phosphor Tagging - a clear phosphor colloidal solution (taggant ink) applied over a stamp, or to its paper, or mixed with stamp printers' ink. Tagging glows bluish-green or reddish when exposed to short wave ultraviolet light. Reddish tagging was only used for air mail stamps from 1963 to 1978. Beginning with the 1978 31¢ Wright Brothers (Scott C91-C92), bluish-green tagging was used for all subsequent air mail stamps. Tagging has a brief afterglow that is used by automatic cancelling machines to find, face, and cancel an envelope's stamp.

Fluorescence - stamp paper or inks containing fluorescent brighteners that glow brighter while exposed to short or long wave ultraviolet light. There is no afterglow, and fluorescent papers usually glow a bluish-white. Stamp inks containing fluorescent brighteners can glow in a variety of colors.

Taggant - the phosphor compound used in the tagging of stamps.

Tagging -Type I - overall tagging where all four selvage margins on a pane of 100 stamps are only partially tagged. The stamps are all fully tagged. This, the first type of tagging used, appears on seven stamps. Example: Liberty issue 4¢ Lincoln, Scott 1036b.

Tagging -Type II - overall tagging where the large margin on a pane of 100 stamps is only partially tagged. The other three margins and all stamps are fully tagged. Examples are many Prominent American issue stamps and a few Liberty Issues.

Tagging -Type IIA - overall tagging where all four selvage margins, as well as all stamps on a pane of 100 are fully tagged. Examples are many Prominent American issue stamps.

Tagging -Type III - tagging similar to Type IIA, but characterized by gaps in tagging or bright lines resembling coil joint lines that cross the narrow axis of one row of stamps in a pane of 100. The lines were produced by the gap where two metal tagging plates butted together. Examples: 3¢ Statue of Liberty in the Liberty
series (Scott 1035b).

Phosphored Ink - ink to which a clear taggant compound has been added. Phosphored ink is infrequently used on stamps, but is frequently used for postal stationery. Example of use of phosphored ink: Leif Erikson stamp of 1968, Scott 1359, and the Bicentennial envelope of 1976, Scott U582.

Tagging - Type OP - Tagging applied by an offset press. Example: 1966 5¢ Women's Clubs stamp, Scott 1316.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here are some useful queries about tagging:

Is it generally known that Scotch tape blocks tagging? And why would it do that?

"See-through" film used in the manufacture of adhesive tape is only transparent for a portion of the visible spectrum. When you wander into the UV, the tape blocks those frequencies of light. Glass has similar (blocking) properties for certain frequencies of UV light.

Most substances that pass the visible spectrum block UV. Exceptions are quartz and polyethylene. UV lamps and cameras use quartz. Some tagging specialists mount their tagged material in polyethylene strips

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saleem

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Experience is the name you give to the mistakes you made yesterday."
Fred_villali
14 Feb 2010
04:43:48pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Saleem: So very nice of you to take time to elucidate this old man. Thank you, indeed. I will have my grandson show me how to download this info unto my hard drive. Looks like I'm too old and too late in the game to go off on a tangent, though. I'm getting rid of all my mint stuff and anything that is not Used U.S. So....for ID purposes of U.S. stamps only, do I need a $100 lamp or can I get by with a cheapeau? Thanks again.

Like
Login to Like
this post
Harley
14 Feb 2010
06:04:30pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Fred,
I can answer that,,
go for the better one.
I went the cheap route for a short wave UV lamp and can only tell if it is tagged. Everything is grey shadows.No color,no intensity,and telling the difference between lightly tagged and splotchy is impossible-they look the same- to the naked eye.
Once I get enough stamps that need identified as tagged or tagging missing,then I'll invest in the better one.
I felt,,,as others do,that tagging wasnt really that important,,until I started to REALLY read my Scotts catalogue.Most times they are minor differences,but on several occassions the difference is not just the tagging(or lack of)but also the rarety and value differences.
It's hard to judge if the tagging variety is of importance,or even important enough to add a space in my album,,or not.
Scott only list if it is,isnt,or error.Not type.
Hence the need of source material on the subject,and info from collectors like Saleems' post above.
So if you plan on pursueing the adventure of tagging varieties,I suggest you make it easier to go down that road with better equiptment(LW/SW UV lamp)that will make the trip go smoother, less chalengeing,more productive,and a heck of a lot more fun.
TOM

Like
Login to Like
this post
amsd
Members Picture

Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
15 Feb 2010
07:54:25am
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Fred, Tom is perfectly right IF, and I stress IF, you are interested in the tagging varieties. If, on the other hand, you only want to know if it's tagged, block tagged, over all tagged, etc., any cheap combo light can do that. I've limped along with a $20 combo lamp for 25 years and it's fine, but I''m not a tagging specialist like Tom and Saleem.

David

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

juicyheads.com/link.php?PLJZJP
Connieb
Members Picture

15 Feb 2010
08:12:13am
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

This is a good discussion and has brought up some interesting points. I'm glad to hear that there are levels of interest in identifying tagging types.

I've been curious about what to do about tagging varieties of Canadian stamps. Some can be seen without a lamp. This discussion has given me more to think about before I buy, if I buy, a UV lamp.

Thanks.

Like
Login to Like
this post
Bobstamp
Members Picture

15 Feb 2010
10:20:46am
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Another note about Canadian tagged stamps: Collectors generally collect only mint stamps because the migration of the taggant is increased by washing stamps off paper.

Canadian tagged stamps stored in packets or other containers with other stamps will contaminate them.

Another factor to consider is paper varieties based on paper fluorescence or phosphorescence, identifiable only with UV light. Some of these varieties are rare and valuable, if I recall correctly from the days when I collected Canadian stamps.

Bob

Like
Login to Like
this post

www.ephemeraltreasures.net
Connieb
Members Picture

15 Feb 2010
10:32:37am
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Hmm. Some of that information about migrating tagging stuff is a bit scary. What's a collector to do?

I suppose that isn't unique to Canadian or US tagging. Not sure.

Like
Login to Like
this post
Saleem
Members Picture

15 Feb 2010
11:18:40am
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

First to Fred : If you want to delve into tagging varieties of US stamps please don't get rid of the mint stuff - tagging is best differentiated on mint stamps, on used stamps the tagging is either dull or migrated from other stamps and even covers.
I use Prinz desktop models of Shortwave and Longwave ultraviolet lamps for identification of tagging and paper varieties on US, Canada and Australian stamps. The LW cost me about US $25 and the SW light cost me about US $40 a few years back now these may be a bit more but these have given excellent service and the lamp top is covered to shield from eyes. Even then I use U/V proof sunglasses when working with these lamps which is a precaustion everyone using U/V lamps should take.
Portable battery operated Long Wave (LW) lights are relatively inexpensive (approx. $15) and detect fluorescence. Short Wave (SW) ultraviolet (UV) lights are dangerous for eyes if viewed directly or for long periods. The most critical feature differentiating a good SW light is the filterbuilt into the light. Poor lights/filters produce a much wider spectrum of UV light, including LW, often causing confusion in identifying results. Good lights/filters allow only the proper wave band of UV to be produced and are much more definitive in identifying tagging on stamps.
When you buy just don't go for lights which are meant for both spectrums of UV because in the long run these start giving erronous viewing in the SW spectrum.
One good advice is to search for Money Checking desktop lamps - these usually are available in both LW and SW spectrums and are much cheaper than those which are marketed as meant for stamps only.
Check for a Prinz accessory dealer in the US and ask their prices.

Now to Canadian stamps ..... the beauty of these stamps can only be viewed in mint condition and you will need both the SW and LW lamps for these, as explained above in the Uitrade Specialized catalog of Canada stamps (WHY DOESN'T SCOTT DO THIS FOR US STAMPS??? AND TO THINK THAT THEY ARE THE PUBLISHERS OF UNITRADE CATALOG!!!!)
Apart from tagging the Canadian stamps are listed for paper variations which can only be differentiated by LW lamps. WT tagging requires SW lamp whereas GT tagging needs LW lamps. And there are lots of tagging varietie and errors to take most of your on-lamp time!
Saleem

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Experience is the name you give to the mistakes you made yesterday."
Harley
15 Feb 2010
05:27:25pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

So ,,,migrating taggamants a possible problem.
How do you protect those mint ones?
How do you clean a contaminated non tagged stamp?
Just how are you to distinguish used stamps that may or may not have been exposed to taggaments?

My mint tagged go into mint vario stock pages.
Please note other members notes about migrating taggaments.Once one is stored in that slot on the page,that slot is contaminated,and could jeopardise the integrity of another(new) stamp,if you place it in that slot.
So do not use "used" pages,mounts,protectors,etc.

I know no way to remove unwanted(not supposed to be there) taggaments.
Once you mix,either for soaking,or just common storage,the tagged and untaagged stamps,,they no longer can be verified as either.They are destined to remain the most common,lower valued stamp,and can only be IDed with that lower catalogue number.

So remember,rule of thumb for tagged stamps-
mint protector for mint stamps,,,,used protector for used stamps.

TOM

Like
Login to Like
this post
Larryc3a
Members Picture

16 Feb 2010
01:43:13pm
re: UV Lamp and general discussion of tagging

Here is an interesting guide on tagging and the author's recommendation for a UV light.

http://reviews.ebay.com/Guide-to-Tagging-on-Stamps_W0QQugidZ10000000002458564

Larry

Like
Login to Like
this post
        
Please Note:
Postings that were loaded from the old Discussion Board cannot be edited.

Contact Webmaster | Visitors Online | Unsubscribe Emails


This site is provided by Roy Lingen at www.buckacover.com

User Agreement

Copyright © 2021 Stamporama.com