Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Appreciation for Self-Adhesives

Self-adhesive stamps have been in use since as early as the 60’s and are now produced in large numbers by Canada Post and the USPS. I’ve never liked the idea of collecting self-adhesive stamps. I couldn’t figure out how they would work as a used issue. Can you soak them? And how can you keep single mint issues without removing them from their backing sheet? I have some in my collection but they are all part of full sheets or booklets.

I recently went through a hoard of used stamps on paper and decided to soak them – something I hadn’t done since I was a kid. Some of these stamps were self-adhesive and I read somewhere that they can be soaked too so I gave it a try. And to my amazement, they came off the paper very nicely. I used warm water and when they looked like they had been soaked long enough I gently pulled the stamps off the wet paper and each time almost all of the adhesive residue remained on the paper. The stamps I was left with were clean and for the most part, residue free. Sometimes a little gentle rubbing with my finger was needed to remove the last bit of gum from the back of the stamps.

As for mint stamps, I’ve seen some people listing individual mint self-adhesives for sale and these stamps had not been removed from their backing paper. What you do is remove everything from the backing paper except the stamp or stamps you want to keep. Then the backing paper is cropped with scissors leaving a small border around each stamp. The result is a single mint self-adhesive stamp that has not been removed from its backing paper. To do this might mean sacrificing all of the stamps around the one you want to keep but they can always be stuck on some other non-stick paper (or some of the cut up backing paper) and used for postage later.

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