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Southeast Federation
of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.
SFMS Stamp Program

Stamp Removal Instructions:

    Stamp Soaking:

    The following are my method for soaking today’s self stick stamps from their paper.  It is by no means the only way to do it, if you have another method and have been successful with it in the past, by all means use it

    My first step is to trim the paper off each stamp, leaving approximately one half inch of paper.  If you cut the paper too close to the stamp there will be nothing to hold onto when you peel the stamps from the paper.  Watch it, this can cause you a lot of trouble; you could wind up discarding a lot of damaged stamps.  At this same time remove any stamps that are on bright colored paper, red, green or yellow paper will fade and stain all the others you are soaking in the pan with it.  Any stained stamp is a damaged one and you may as well discard it.
    With this done we are now ready to soak some stamps, you will need two pans, one large enough to hold one gallon of water the other can be smaller about 1 quart.  Fill the first pan with about one half gallon of warm water with 1 tsp of mild hand soap (I use liquid Dial).  Most dishwashing liquid soap is designed to cut grease and they could fade your stamps.  Fill the second pan with cold water from the tap.
    Place two ounces (Approx. 300 stamps) in the pan with the warm soapy water, with your hand force them to the bottom of the pan face down.  Now let them soak approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  At this point some of the stamps should have separated from the paper and floated away.  Take these out first and place in the pan with the cold water; the rest should peel away from the paper easily.  Have a wastebasket with a plastic bag liner near by; as you remove the stamps from the first pan also remove the paper into the wastebasket.  When all stamps have been removed from the soapy water and the scrap paper and damages stamps are in the trash, you can empty the first pan and set it aside.
    Most newspapers are printed on one sheet of paper folded in the center consisting of two pages printed front and back.  Take a sharp knife or scissors and separate the two pages.  The reason I tell you this is, if you try to use the two pages together they will become soggy and take hours to dry.  Of course you don't have to use newspaper, paper towels or any other soft absorbent paper will do.

    We are now ready to dry the stamps.  Take one page of newspaper; fold it in the center of the page.  Lay the stamps side-by-side face down on the paper making sure they don't touch or overlap one another.  There could be enough gum remaining or them to stick together.  Lay the pages aside until they are almost dry or until the stamps start to curl.  At this point fold the other half of the paper down over the stamps and place some kind of weight over them over night or for several hours.  Under no circumstances put these stamps-in a bag or envelope until they are completely dry and flat.  They will stick together and have creases or folds. Stamps with creases and folds are considered damaged and will be discarded.

    As I said earlier, this is by no means the only way to do this; but if one will follow this instruction to the letter there will be little or no problems soaking stamps off paper.
    Needless to say, after you have soaked a few stamps off paper it will become much easier and fun to do, however, I feel I should add a footnote here.  All traces of the envelope paper and gum must be removed without fading the stamps.  If there is any trace of paper on the back of the stamp you may as well, throw it in the trash. It’s considered to be non-collectable and no one will buy it.
    One other thing I might add, you are going to find some stamps that cannot be soaked off paper no matter what you try.  In my experience I have only ran into two.  The Pacific Rain Forest and Great Planes Prairie.
    Commemoratives come close, but they can be done.  I have found that if one leaves about 1 inch or more paper around the stamp and soak for 30 minutes or more they will come off the paper.

    Good luck

    Jim Robinson, Chairman
    Stamp Committee

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