Saturday, October 10, 2015

Stamp, Stamp, Stamp

These days, when someone mentions "stamps", I doubt the first thing that comes to mind is postage stamps.  And most certainly, the first thought would not be postage stamp-collecting.  Rather it would be the type of stamps that are either self-inking, or that you smack onto an inked pad before placing on paper or card stock.

But I'm one of those old-fashioned weirdos ... I collect postage stamps.  Well, sort of.  My stamp collection is a bit like my recipe collection...I have them and rarely use them, and lately a bit like my fabric 'collection' that is better known as my fabric stash for quilting.  My canceled stamps collection point was overflowing.  And what do you do when that happens?  You soak the stamps off the envelopes.  Of course, you don't have the entire envelope - that would be silly unless it was something like a first day cover or otherwise something special and unique in which case you wouldn't dare soak the stamp off anyway, but rather, one has previously torn off the corner of the envelope with the stamp intact, tossed it into the 'stash' and otherwise ignored the whole process.....for um.....would you believe 14 years?  Yeah, big time collector here, hehe.

Some of the stamps
The back story.  Isn't there always a back story?  My grandfather, God rest his soul, passed away in 1970...on Christmas Eve of all times!  I loved my Grandfather, he was kind, and warm, and loving, but also firm, and sometimes legalistic in his faith (playing cards were tools of the devil).   He left me with a couple hobbies...must be in the DNA.  One is genealogy.  He got me hooked on finding out about my Norwegian ancestors.  Until I realized that was only one-fourth of the equation of my make up and started researching Germany and Sweden too.  He also left me interested in collecting stamps.  Not as a serious investment by any means - I doubt I have much of anything worth more than the paper it's printed on in the least, and no more than a few bucks more at most for any given stamp.  The big values in a stamp collection are more in marketing the tools than in the stamps I think, unless you happen to hold one of the few rarities in the world...I DON'T!!!  And it's just as well given how much attention I've paid to my "collection" - it's collected more dust these past 14 years than it has stamps!

A foreign stamp that DID soak off.
Stamps drying
Something I discovered after not working on this for so long.  You know all those wonderful peel-and-stick stamps we love because we no longer have to lick that yucky glue that came from who knows where or from what?  Welllllll, they do not come off by soaking in water!!   I know, I tried! 

The photo of stamps drying is of some of the older stamps which did soak off the envelopes.  Foreign stamps still soak off pretty well.

I learned that initially when the peel and sticks came out, a two-layer glue process was used.  The first layer right next to the stamp was water soluble which was then topped with a rubber-based glue.  These can be soaked off fairly easily.  But somewhere, I think I read around 2002, all self-sticking stamps were done with a single layer to save cost, and that is no longer a water soluble glue so it doesn't come off.  In part, it was also to cut down on fraud and re-use of stamps that missed getting canceled.

With that frustration, I went to my trusty computer and once again befriended Google to find out what philatelists now do when collecting modern stamps and how they handle the glue problem.  I also discovered that stamp collecting (or should I say, local supply stores) has nearly gone the way of the dinosaur.  I live near one of the largest cities in the country...there are only a handful of 'coin & stamp' stores-none close, and the one in my local town, no longer carries any stamp products - only coins.  What I did find in my Google search is that there are two camps of how the new stamps are handled.  

The first camp simply leaves the stamp on the envelope and trims very close to the stamp and then mounts it onto the album page.  I'm not keen on that idea as it adds just another layer of lumpy bumpies in the album which can affect other stamps.  And, you can't see the back to see if there's a watermark - sometimes, that's important.

The second camp uses a much more involved process, and it's messier and it adds cost to the process.  But it sure does make your house smell good!! for days!!  It was a learning process for me, and I'll have to re-do some of the first ones I did because they're still gummy on both sides of the stamp.  

A brief explanation is that Bestine (a solvent/thinner) can be used to soften the glue which can then be scraped off.  As an alternative to Bestine, Pure Citrus Orange can be used.  It's environmentally safe, and is the by-product of orange oil, and while it's a pressurized spray, it doesn't use the fluoro-carbons that supposedly damage the environment. This product is sprayed on the back of the envelope side (though on a few I sprayed it on the stamp side because the stamp was affixed to plastic or cardboard and it worked just fine) where it feels oily and turns the paper transparent, loosens the glue and you can peel the paper from the stamp.  All of this is done over table-protecting material, and I used clean paper toweling for the next step of scraping the glue residue from the back, using an old credit card.  The first batches I did, I wasn't changing the toweling often enough and that's how the gummy stuff attached to the front side of the stamp - lesson learned!  Once they are cleaned of the glue, they can be set aside, I use a clean towel, to dry.  While not wet like water, they are wet from the spray which seems somewhat oily but once dry, they are truly dry.  The site I discovered this on, also mentioned using talc to 'dry' any remaining residue, but that didn't seem a good option as I'd rather just do a better job of scraping the gunk off even if it means using a little more of the spray.  I did use a little corn starch on my hands now and then because they felt tacky, but was concerned it might draw bugs over time though the citrus smell might counter that so used it sparingly and thinly and brushed my hands off well.  I didn't find anything addressing what affect (or is it effect?) the spray (or Bestine) has on the stamp in the long run.  Will it change the color twenty years down the road?  Will the stamp disintegrate at some point?  Will the orange smell stay forever?

Interestingly, I already had a can of this spray as I love the smell and use it when I clean the litter box - I just give a single squirt of the spray above the litter box and it's sufficient to block kitties' odors.  I went through an entire can though on these stamps, so had to go buy more.  I thought I'd bought the last one at Walmart, but they didn't have it when I went, but I found it again at Smart & Final.  It's a little over $5 per can but for my normal use, that lasts a long time.  And I don't intend to let my stamps get so out of hand again.

I wonder what the future holds for stamp collectors.  Email and social media has certainly had an affect on the hobby and the USPS has it's problems.  Maybe my kids or grandkids will inherit this and some day it might be worth something.  

1 comment:

  1. I had a small collection as a child and tried to get Son-1 interested. We got a few first-day covers, too. My mother collected those corner groups that have a number -- I know there's a name for them, but I can't think of it. Anyway, one collector I contacted said they're only worth the value printed on them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...