You’ve spent your time and money curating a rare stamps collection that is noteworthy, why not learn to take care of your stamps? Stamps are highly susceptible to damage for water, smoke, and fire. Learn how to store your stamps in order to protect your collection.
Removing Stamps from Envelopes
Some rare stamps will come attached with an envelope, if this happens you may want to separate them. The first step to taking care of your rare stamp collection is to ensure you handle the removal of the stamp properly. There are certain situations where you may not want to remove stamps from their envelopes:
- Historic postmarks
- Famous Senders and/or Recipients
- Stamp was applied to an exotic postcard or maximum card
However, for most other stamps you want to remove and display on their own, these are some basic steps to
- Separate the stamp from the envelope. Set this section aside.
- Soak the stamps and the paper they’re attached to in a bowl of lukewarm water. The temperature needs to be mild as too hot may cause permanent damage.
- Only soak a few stamps at a time.
- Let the stamps soak until you see them floating freely from the envelope pieces they were attached to.
- Carefully remove the stamps from the bowl of water. Rinse the backs to remove any excess gum. Then, lay stamps between two sheets of paper towels with a book or paperweight placed on top. This will prevent curling as the stamps dry.
Let dry overnight and your stamps should be ready for mounting.
Rare Stamp Storage
Whether you are storing you stamp collection at home or in a storage unit, stamps and covers should be kept where humidity and temperature are at safe and consistent levels. High temperatures and humidity can activate the gum on the back of many stamps, which may cause them to stick to each other or to pages in stock books and albums. Stamps that are kept in cold temperatures may become brittle, which can also be damaging. Ideally, stamps should be stored at room temperature with a relative humidity of 50%.
When you are choosing a storage container, pick a container that allows stamp albums and binders to always be stored upright. Storing albums upright distributes the weight evenly and reduces the pressure on the stamps. Otherwise, pressure can increase the risk of stamps sticking to a page or of damaging fragile stamp edges and perforations. Attach valuable stamps to album pages using stamp mounts, which help prevent damage caused by creasing or folding. Full sheets of stamps should always be stored in mint sheet folders. Envelopes, postcards, and wrappers need storage boxes with enough room to remove the covers easily but not so much that they slide around and damage each other. Only use containers, albums, and other storage items that have been made of chemically neutral materials. Using a water tight or fire proof container as an added precaution is always a good idea when storing your collection. They can help protect stamps against sprinklers, leaky ceilings, flooding, smoke and fire.