cddstamps on stamps

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

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Collectors Buying With Confidence – Ordinary paper, chalky paper, how do I know??




Collectors Buying With Confidence –     Ordinary paper, chalky paper, how do I know??   


Hello again, welcome back.  Is this something you have experienced?  Happened to me only yesterday.   Ordinary paper,  Chalky paper, especially on many British Commonwealth issues.   I still find it difficult at times and that is after reading plenty on the topic – which I might add has been written about many times in many philatelic forums over the years.


Once upon a time I learned that the silver test was the way to go.  That is you lightly touch say the corner of the stamp with a piece of silver and if there is a reaction, a mark that is, on the stamp the paper is chalky paper,  or chalk coated. If no reaction, then the paper is ordinary paper. Of course this assumes you have a nice clean piece of silver lying around.  I don’t like this idea as I guess it might be marking the stamp, and for Mint, not too a good idea, perhaps?


Another view is what might be called the pitted surface test. This test basically says if the surface of the face of the stamp has a pitted surface the stamp is the chalky paper.  If not pitted in character then the paper is ordinary paper.   You do need a very good magnifying glass of course, which I have to say you should have anyway to study for printing varieties.  Mine is a $5 job from eBay.  Works just fine.  Really quite amazing little guy but not suitable for more than the odd or occasional stamp study.   You would not want to use it for too long, ok for a few stamps at a time, and then you need to give the eye a rest I suggest.


Just a few more comments.  Chalk-surfaced paper produces a crisp finish due to the smoothness of the surface.  With ordinary paper, there are loose fibres on the surface and the ink is able to 'bleed' into it,  often producing some blurring.

I  have also read another test is to look at a stamp under a long wave UV lamp.  If the paper is very white it is chalky.   I guess different papers may have different results.  But at least these are a few ideas which might help.

Anyway, have a look and see if you can try the pitted surface test to tell chalky paper apart from ordinary paper. You might find some of your stamps are of a higher catalog value than you thought.   Then again,  …..  well  I wont go there……….


Different  British Commonwealth countries may also show differently but as a general rule of thumb I believe this pitted surface distinction is a reasonable guideline to go by.

Have a philatelic weekend, be careful out there  😊


Michael …. Please visit my online store    where I think you will see quality and appropriately described stamps.  



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