FAQ-What is a die-cut stamp?

Image:ClipArtBest
Image:ClipArtBest

Modern printing has had a huge impact on stamp production and philately. Experienced collectors and philatelists are now finding themselves having to learn new philatelic terms and definitions. For example, many new stamps are die-cut. What does that mean?

Simply put, die-cutting is a method of stamp separation designed for self-adhesive stamps. Older, gummed stamps are perforated so that you can separate them one from another (see article: FAQ-What are stamp perforations? ). Modern self-adhesive stamps are very rarely perforated, instead they are die-cut. In other words, a metal die cuts out the sides of the stamps.

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UPDATE: How to remove self-adhesive stamps from a paper backing?

Image:ClipArtBest
Image:ClipArtBest

Canada Post is issuing more and more self-adhesive stamps and a lot of you have asked how to remove them from a paper backing (such as an envelope). A previous article discussed how to do this using Bestine, a chemical solvent. For obvious reasons, many of you would prefer not to use something chemical.

I am very grateful to Claude Favron for posting his suggestion in our comments section. We tested Mr. Favron’s method at Arpin Philately and found that it worked beautifully. I am reproducing his tip below and hope that you find it useful too. The key to success is

Read moreUPDATE: How to remove self-adhesive stamps from a paper backing?

FAQ-How to care for your stamps properly?

Caring for your stamp collection
Caring for your stamp collection

Now that you have spent good time and money on your stamp collection, you want to take care of it! What are some of the things you should never do a stamp? Some of these points may seem basic to an experienced collector, but newer collectors may appreciate them. Here goes!

1) Never use scotch tape or a glue stick to mount a stamp on a page. This may seem obvious, but

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FAQ-Why should I use stamp tongs?

Stamps!
Stamps!

If you are going to invest in a hobby like stamp collecting, it only makes sense to take care of it. One of the worst things you could do when sorting and handling your stamps is to use your bare hands and fingers. Even if you wash your hands properly, you still risk transferring oils from your skin to your stamps. It may not seem like such a big deal, I mean, most stamps have been handled at some point, right? However, you may not feel the same if you leave a big, nasty fingerprint on a valuable stamp.

Read moreFAQ-Why should I use stamp tongs?

FAQ-Is a stamp catalogue really necessary?

Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps
Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps

The short answer is YES! I’m not just saying that to sell catalogues. I really believe it to be true. I was only introduced to philately in my 30’s and if it hadn’t been for catalogues I would have been lost. I learned a lot from my stamp catalogue. Here is a short list of why they are so necessary. I’ll be concentrating on catalogues for Canada stamps, such as the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps.

Read moreFAQ-Is a stamp catalogue really necessary?

FAQ-How do I detect a stamp watermark?

Stamp with Crown CA Watermark
Stamp with Crown CA Watermark

Now that we know what a stamp watermark is, let’s talk about how we can detect one. A previous article briefly outlined how you can use watermark detector fluid (see article FAQ-What is a stamp watermark?). Is this the only method available to stamp enthusiasts?

Here are 5 different ways to detect a watermark on a stamp:

1) Not always reliable, but certainly the simplest way, is to hold the stamp up to a bright light with the back of the stamp facing you. In some instances bright light will show through the thinner areas of the paper and reveal a watermark. You can also try laying the stamp face side down on a black surface. The darker background sometimes shows through the watermark.

Read moreFAQ-How do I detect a stamp watermark?

FAQ-What is a stamp watermark?

Canada stamp #28
Canada stamp #28

Watermarks can significantly increase the value of a stamp. For example, Canada stamp #28 in Mint VF (Unitrade listing) has a catalogue value of $1,400, but the same stamp with a watermark (#28a), is listed at $6,000! Obviously, it’s a good thing to find a stamp with a watermark. It can mean the difference between an ordinary stamp and a rarity. So then, what is a stamp watermark?

Read moreFAQ-What is a stamp watermark?

FAQ-What makes up a postage stamp?

Stamp album-from Wikipedia author Lerdsuwa
Stamp album-from Wikipedia author Lerdsuwa

So you’ve decided to start stamp collecting…congratulations! The mark of any good collector is a thorough knowledge of the object of his interest. You will find that learning about postage stamps and all their difference aspects is something that can keep you busy for years to come, but it’s good to understand the basics. So, let’s start at the beginning-what makes up a postage stamp? What stands out under close examination?

Read moreFAQ-What makes up a postage stamp?

FAQ-How to use a perforation gauge?

Stamp with perforations
Stamp with perforations

In our last article we discussed what perforations are. If you remember, perforations are the tiny punched out holes that permit us to tear our stamps from a stamp sheet. Sometimes, two stamps may seem identical, but actually have a different perforation measure. This can mean that one of the stamps is more rare than the other and worth more money. So how do you measure the perforation of a stamp?

First of all, you absolutely need a perforation gauge. This handy and inexpensive little tool will enable you to measure your stamps effectively and relatively simply. There is a little skill involved, but with some practice you’ll be a pro in no time.

Read moreFAQ-How to use a perforation gauge?