Last winter the children and I started a postage stamp collection. Over the summer we let ourselves slide on it so that we could enjoy other activities. Now that the winter blahs are settling in and the weather is not so nice, it’s time we get back into it. One of the first things you need to do is to soak your stamps.
Why do you need to soak your stamps? Well, really what you’re doing is steaming them off of the envelopes that had previously been on. Then you will be able to arrange them nicely in your collection.
Soaking stamps really is quite easy. We had loads to soak, but once we set up a system, it didn’t take toooo long. Of course, if you keep up with it on a regular basis it wouldn’t take any time at all.
Please note that you’ll be using boiling water so the children need to be supervised at all times.
Boil the kettle. And put a teabag or coffee into a mug.
Make yourself a hot drink and relax.
Now pour the hot water into a bowl.
Tear or cut the corner of the envelope off, being careful not to rip your stamps, but try to get as close as you can to the stamp.
Take your prepared corner envelope pieces and place them on the hot water, stamp side up.
Set a timer for five minutes and watch what happens to the postage stamps.
You may notice that some stamps will completely lift right off of the envelope within a minute or two. Others will need a little coaxing from you. You can use some tweezers to gently submerge the stamp into the water. And then later you can try to gently lift the stamp off of the envelope with the tweezers. Be careful, the water will still be hot, and you also want to take care not to tear the postage stamps.
I find if I stay nearby with my requisite cup of hot tea, and lift the stamps out of the water as soon as they’re ready, and then place another one onto the water right away, I can get a good system going and have a nice little pile done before I need to change the cooling water for fresh hot water again.
After you take your stamp out of the water, place it picture side up on a tray that has a layer of grease-proof/wax paper on it. Don’t press your stamps down as they can still stick to the paper, but not so badly as if you don’t use the paper . (Should a stamp stick, then pour a teaspoon of hot water over it to release it).
I find if I put the stamps picture side up they don’t curl nearly as much.
Leave the stamps there until they are completely dry. When we work in large batches I try to have 2 or 3 trays ready to go.
If your stamps curl up a little, place them in a heavy book (using grease-proof/wax paper to keep them sticking to the pages of the book.
Now you’re ready to start sorting (if you haven’t already done so) and placing your stamps into albums.
Ask your children what they think will happen to the stamps in the water? How long will it take? What would happen if cold water was used? Try it out. Compare times for different kinds of stamps (gummed vs. stickers) and from different countries.
This will work for both the old-style gummed stamps, as well as the newer sticker-style stamps, although the gummed-stamps work much better.