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A guide to the basics in stamp collecting.

1. How to Soak off Stamps.



How to Soak Stamps off an Envelope

Edited from Wiki-Help


Many used postage stamps need to be removed from the envelope. A bowl of warm water and scissors are needed, and ordinary paper towels laid flat on a cookie sheet for the drying process. Press dry stamps between the pages of old phone books.

Cut Out Stamps

Decide whether the stamp should be removed from the paper. Some stamps are more valuable if they are kept on the envelope. An old stamp may be worth a few dollars by itself, but may be worth many times that in the historical context of the envelope that bears it.

Cut Out Stamps

Cut stamps off the corner of the envelope with some scissors

Soak Stamp In Water
Place the cut corner in bowl of warm water and wait 10+ minutes. Use cold water if you are worried that the ink might run. In the past some stamps were manufactured so that soaking would ruin the stamp; this prevented people from illegally reusing them on new mail.

Floating Stamp


Most of the stamps will float off, so put them on the blotter of paper towels face down. Do this carefully so that the stamps do not tear or crease. Some stamps require coaxing to come off the paper, esp. the newer "peel and stick" kind. I sometimes add a single drop of washing up liquid to the “peel and stick” stamps to help loosen the gum.

Dry Stamp Face Down


Put the cookie sheet of stamps in a dry place (such as the unheated oven) overnight.

Flatten in Book


Place the now dry (and maybe a bit curled) stamps flat between the pages of a large book and weight them down if necessary

Leave to Dry before Handling


Leave them for 2-3 weeks to be very flat for handling and sorting into your collection, or for later use. Remember to use tweezers to avoid damaging the clean stamps.

  • Use temperate water. Water with extreme temperatures might make the inks run on some stamps.
  • Plastic stamps take longer to soak off.
  • Some stamps, especially from the 19th and early 20th century, may be best left on the envelope. They will be more valuable that way.
If you want to use washed stamps on an envelope, a glue stick will serve for putting them on. This should only be done with stamps that have never been through the mails before, since using a stamp more than once for sending mail is illegal in most countries





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