How to Safely Remove Stamps From Envelopes

If you have received a letter with a beautiful stamp on it, you may want to add it to your stamp collection. Most collectors keep their stamps mounted in albums to protect the ink and the paper from any acidity found in ordinary writing (or envelope) paper.

Of course, if you have a stamp on an envelope and want that stamp in an album, you will need to find a way to safely part the two.

Is It Safe to Remove Stamps From Envelopes?

Before you start trying to part a stamp from the envelope, you will want to carefully consider the stamp and your ultimate aim. If you are concerned about the value of the stamp, you may want to get it appraised while it is still on the envelope. In some cases, the stamp will be more valuable if it remains on the envelope. Many collectors consider stamps still attached to envelopes to be more historically interesting than a stamp on its own.

Another consideration is the type of stamp itself. You will need to use different methods depending on whether the stamp is a traditional “lick and stick” stamp or a newer self-adhesive stamp. Using the wrong method can cause damage. You’ll also want to do a little research about the color-steadfastness of stamps. Some older traditional stamps are not very colorfast and will bleed if you introduce any moisture. In these cases, leaving the stamp on the envelope is safest.

How to Remove a Stamp if the Stamp Is Traditional

If you have a non-self-adhesive stamp on an envelope, simple warm water may be the best way to proceed. You will need:

  • Tweezers
  • Paper towels
  • A bowl of slightly warm water
  • A drying rack (or flat surface)
  • Scissors

To remove the stamp, start by cutting away some of the envelope, so you only have about an inch of paper around the stamps. Cutting off the corner of the envelope is sufficient, but be sure to leave some space around the stamps. Next, place the paper with the stamps on it into a bowl of warm water and wait at least ten or more minutes, checking carefully to make sure the colors are not affected.

After at least ten minutes, you will see the stamps curl away from the paper. In most cases, the stamps will float free of the paper. Sometimes you may need to use tweezers or your fingers to very gently peel the paper away from the stamp. Never use force, since it can tear the wet stamp.

Once the stamps are free of the paper, let them air-dry face-down on paper towels. After they are mostly dry, let them dry on a drying rack or on a flat surface in a dry environment. This can take up to one day. At this point, they may be slightly curled. You can place them between the pages of a heavy book for at least three weeks to get them flat before adding them to your collection.

How to Safely Remove Self-Adhesive Stamps from Envelopes

Self-adhesive stamps, or the peel-and-stick stamps common today in many countries (including the United States), can be a little more difficult to remove using water. With these stamps, Bestine can make the process easier. Bestine is a solvent you can find at many craft and art supply stores.

If you have a stamp you want to remove from an envelope, start by cutting away the excess envelope so you have the stamp and a few additional inches of paper left. Use an eyedropper to apply just a few drops of Bestine to the back of the envelope, where the stamp is. Do not apply the Bestine to the front of the stamp.

Once you have applied Bestine, it will dry fast, so you will need to act quickly. Roll the envelope piece with the stamp on it so the edges curl away from the stamp and the stamp is facing you. The edges of the stamp should curl up, and then you can use your fingers, or tweezers to slowly and carefully peel the rest of the stamp off the paper.

Place the stamp face-side-down on a piece of paper towel. After twenty minutes, gently apply a bit of talc to the back of the stamp. The Bestine will not dissolve the glue on the back of the stamp, so this step is needed to keep the stamp from sticking to other surfaces.

If you have removed stamps from envelopes and would like to sell them or would like to shop for some stamps, visit Apfelbaum, Inc. today.