Keep Calm and Collect Stamps

October is Stamp Collecting month.

Many times new collectors ask me advice on whether to buy an expensive item they are being offered. Most of the time I have seen the item is over-priced and usually not as described. Sometimes new collectors ask what’s the value of their stamps, are mint stamps more valuable and so on.

My sincere advice to new collectors:

Give yourself time and enjoy the hobby. Learn more about stamps and also the events they commemorate. Start collecting full sets, then perhaps full years of specific countries and themes. Start with relatively cheaper stamps and build a collection. Machins, precancels, definitive series of countries of your choice is a great way to start. These are easy to get started but quite challenging to collect if you try to complete the series. I am sure you will get to more expensive and rare stamps and other philatelic items at some point of time in your hobby.

Here are some resources to get you started with basics of stamp collecting:

Here are some resources that can help you identify your stamps:


Keep calm and enjoy stamp collecting.

Gutter Pairs

I had written about traffic lights stamps some time back. While I have been collecting those for a while, what’s really fascinated me are gutter pairs. According to Wikipedia:

The philatelic ue of the word gutter is the space left between postage stamps which allows them to be separated or perforated. When stamps are printed on large sheets of paper that will be guillotined into smaller sheets along the gutter it will not exist on the finished sheet of stamps. Some sheets are specifically designed where two panes of stamps are separated by a gutter still in the finished sheet and gutters may, or may not, have some printing in the gutter. Since perforation of a particular width of stamps is normal, the gutter between the stamps is often the same size as the postage stamp.

I have always wanted to have gutter pairs in my collection when I was young. Finally I acquired my first gutter pair only recently when I restarted my hobby.

And more recently acquired gutter pairs of these beautiful 1980 Great Britain commemorative stamps.

Maybe some day I’ll get gutter block also in my collection.

My next goal is to acquire Tête-bêche. More about that when I get those in my collection.

Removing Self-Adhesive Stamps from Paper

I have tried a few ways to remove self-adhesive stamps now, mostly unsuccessful. But I seem to have found a method that actually works.

I tried lighter fluid as explained in one of the videos I listed in my earlier post on removing stamps from paper. I specially bought Zippo lighter fluid but unfortunately this doesn’t work for me. For some reason it seems to make the adhesive stronger and stamps seem to stick stronger to the paper. Maybe it’s just a different kind of lighter fluid than what is required.

Another video said to use Citrus spray. Ambipur room freshner was the closest that I could find to this in India. This surprisingly worked a lot better than the lighter fluid. I spray this on the paper wait a few seconds and the paper comes off. However this method also doesn’t completely remove paper cleanly. Some paper residue will remain on the stamp. Sometimes the paper does come off completely but the layer of glue remains that you have scrape off which is likely to damage the stamp.

What seems to have worked for me is putting stamps in reasonably hot water (not boiling water). Soak the stamps for a few minutes in hot water and the paper is most likely to come out cleanly. In some cases you may still have to scrape residual paper and glue off the stamp, which is likely to damage the stamp. Be careful and use tweezers in this method as the water and the stamps are hot.

Of course, none of the above methods are completely foolproof. So if you have a stamp that you really want and have only one copy of it, I would advise you to just leave it on paper.

In my search, I also found two commercial label and adhesive remover products. I haven’t tried these but if you’ve have any experience with these, then please do share your experience by leaving a comment.


Finding my solace

Stamp collecting has been a therapeutic and comforting hobby. It has kept me awake at night in a good sense. I have lost myself in stamps and that has helped me find myself at the same time. It’s amazing how much time I can actually spend on organizing and reorganizing my collection. The only problem is that I have also ended up spending a lot of money. I really gotta find a better way to collect stamps than just spend money.