Learn About: Stamp Identification, Soaking & Drying, Storage, Cachets, Watermarks, Perforations, Postmarks, Topical Collecting

Stamp Identification


Stamp Identification


Using stamp tongs, sort stamps into three separate piles. 

  1. Stamps you can identify as to the country of origin.
  2. Stamps you think you know but are not quite sure of.
  3. Stamps you cannot identify at all.

Put aside piles 2 and 3 and concentrate on #1. Sort into separate piles by country.  If the pile is a big one,  sort by country alphabetically and then separate each letter into separate countries.

Open album and find the proper country.  Search for the illustration matching the stamp you want to mount.  If identical, mount on top of the illustration.  If not but similar, mount near or in a blank space.

Study info in your album carefully to add to your pleasure and knowledge and it will help you identify some of those in piles 2 or 3.

Pictures on stamps have great stories and are educational!

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Soaking & Drying


Surplus paper adhering to used postage stamps can be removed by immersion in plain water.  Stamps on fugitive or aniline inks or stuck to colored paper or  cancelled with violet ink, should never be totally  immersed, but should be “floated off”.  Salt should be added to the water to slow up any running of color and to freshen up the stamps.  Colored linings of airmail envelopes and some brown wrapping papers  are  particularly prone to staining – not only to the attached stamps, but the water also thus tinting and ruining the whole batch of stamps. A humidor or sweat-box is the modern and preferred way for water soluble inks.

Boiling in pure distilled water is often recommended as a “kill or cure” treatment for an old copy very badly soiled.  A few seconds immersion is usually sufficient  to loosen the obstinate accretions of dirt and paper, etc.


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Soaking & Drying

Soaking and dryingo

Storage & Mounting

Storage & Mounting



Album:  Blank or Illustrated book with pages designed to hold and display a collection of postage stamps. Printed or Blank:  general or specialized stock pages.  

Hinges:  Oblong tough, thin paper gummed on one side  and designed for neat mounting of stamps in the album.

Quality Mounting:  To preserve the condition and value of stamps in a collection it is important that stamps be correctly mounted in the album.

Hinge Use:  If pre folded, the short end goes on the stamp. Unfolded hinges, hold over the top quarter of the hinge, lightly moisten and affix to the top of the stamp.   Next, lightly moisten the other end of the hinge.  Then, holding the foot of the stamp away from the album page with stamp tongs, press the hinge (not the stamp) firmly to the page. To remove hinged stamps, be sure to wait until the gum or hinge is thoroughly dry or stamp or page may tear.

Alternative:  (more expensive method) is to place stamps in mounts which are then mounted on the album page. Protective mounts in various sizes are good for expensive and mint stamps.



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In addition to the cover (envelope or card) in the form of a printed, embossed, impressed, or hand struck inscription, or device to authenticate, date, or publicize an event or exceptional philatelic circumstance connected with the mailing of that particular cover or card.

In particular a cachet is frequently employed for First Day Covers, Philatelic Exhibitions, First or Special Airmail Flights, Commemorations, etc.


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Cachet Covers

cachet covers

Watermarks & Perforations




A semi translucent thinning of the substance of  paper base.  It is usually a device, pattern, or  lettering produced by the pressure of wire on brass forms called “bits” attached to the roll of a paper making machine.

Watermarks can be detected by:

  1. Visual – turn the stamp face down on a piece of  black paper or a black surface of some kind.
  2. Watermark fluid in black tray
  3. Ultra Violet light


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A series of found or other shaped holes punched out between the rows of stamps in a sheet or coil  strips of stamps to facilitate the separation of an individual stamp.

The three methods in use today:

  1.   Line or guillotine:  one straight row of punches perforates a line at a time.
  2.   Comb :  three sides of each stamp of a row are  done at one stroke.
  3.   Harrow:  a whole block pane or sheet is perforated in one operation.




Perforations are measured by the number of holes (perfs) to 20 mm or 2 centimeters. Horizontal given (top side) first, then (right) vertical, then if necessary, the bottom.

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PostmarksPicture Here






Special Postmarks


Postmarks are those parts of the cancellation which indicate date, time and place of posting.  This is the most common type of postmark in use today.  Postmarks  are known by other names:  obliterator, killer, or by the type of cancel (heavy lines or bars), cork cancel (early devices carved out of cork or wood), slogan cancel (containing some slogan or trademark), gridiron cancel (generally oval shaped) or other  designations to indicate the method of transport such as ship cancel, railroad  cancel, mailboat (paquebot) cancel or airmail cancel.


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Topical Collecting


Do you love trains, airplanes, baseball, birds, space, fish, olympics, or anything else?  Topical collecting allows anyone collect on stamps the things that interest them without rules to follow and spaces to fill in an album. Each person collects their interests and is free to organize their stamps in the ways they like best. For those who want the help of a album to fill, publishers offer topical pages for popular topics.  Or you can make your own pages the way you want them.

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Topical Collecting