cddstamps on stamps

my thoughts on stamps, stamp collecting, philately in general and maybe a few other topics !

Monday, October 26, 2020

 Part II - Cleaning Stamps

 I split this article into two part. I hope this  second and final part is interesting, especially the  images.

 Now let’s take this theme of cleaning the stamp one step further. And in this case I want to talk a little about removing self-adhesive stamps from their envelope of use.

Early self-adhesive stamp actually soaked off the envelope quite easily.     This can be seen in UK and Australia stamps for example.  But more recent self-adhesive gums are in fact produced to be so  “adhesive” they do not  allow the stamp to be soaked from the envelope. A massive loss to the beginner stamp collectors of this world -  well that is the old school talking isn’t it!

But seriously, for example, let’s take the Great Britain Security Machins – introduced in 2009  with  new security features, namely no water soluble layer of gum between the paper of the stamp and the self-adhesive and  the U shaped security slits.  The absence of the water soluble gum  made the removal of the stamp from  an envelope rather difficult – certainly a soak in warm water did not work -   and the security slits were designed such that if an attempt was made to remove the stamps from the envelope the  paper in the slits would be removed from the stamp.  The security slits were also designed to prevent forgery I might add.


Many collectors who now collect Security Machins are collecting the stamps “on piece”.  In fact if one reads the Stanley Gibbons  Catalogue  about these Security Machins you will see they say    “We recommend that used stamps are retained on their backing paper and trimmed with a uniform border of 1-2mm around all sides, taking care not to cut into the perforations”

But this has not stopped many people from finding a way to remove the Security Machin stamp from the backing paper. On a personal note, I do not endorse this practice. I know many who do and you can find many sellers with Security Machins in their internet stamp shops “off paper”.

The chemical concoctions used vary quite widely. There are pages and pages of guidance and advice on how to remove these and many other modern self-adhesives stamps “safely” with no damage.  Personally I think adding a chemical of any sort to this type of stamp is going to cause some “damage’ in some form or another, or shall we say some change in the stamp.  Many tell me I am wrong and I understand there are varying opinions on this. Maybe each stamp and each type of cleaning  material will give difference results.

So in summary, three last points:  

1) The stamp is yours and what you do with it to please yourself and please how you have it in your collection is your choice. 

2)  If you are buying a Security Machin - or any other modern self-adhesive for that matter -  from an internet stamp sellers store  -  Buyer beware – the scanned or photographed image may not actually tell you all you need to know about the condition of the stamp. 

3)  If you are doing the removing yourself, once you have started to remove the stamp from the envelope / backing paper with one of the treatments there is no turning back – damage done cannot be repaired – it won’t recover like the hair on my daughters head!  

I hope you like the images. Most are mine, some are from a friend who helped me understand a bit about soaking Security Machins and one, well I just happened across them!


Health and safety note 😃  : only two stamps were “damaged” and thrown away in the making of this article.



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