Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Become Unhinged

A perennial problem with removing hinged stamps from old albums is that some will be stuck to the page and those that come off may well leave hinge remnants. The technique I use was described on several websites including Linns. It consists of first using tongs to hold the stamp as far off the album page as it will lift without tearing. I then lightly wet a small artists brush with water (a Q-tip would also work). I slowly move the brush back and forth between the hinge and the album page while simultaneously pulling the stamp/hinge off the page using the tongs. I like the brushes with slanted bristles. It is just like the sport of curling but without the skates. I suppose you could wear skates while you do this but I don't think it would help.

In cases where I have the stamp successfully detached but the hinge remnant refuses to separate from the album page, I brush a small amount of water directly on the remnant, wait a short amount of time, and then pick at the hinge with tongs. Generally it will come up without damaging the paper.

While this works for me most of the time, a recent thread on the Virtual Stamp Club forum suggested another approach. While the thread is devoted to separating stamps from envelopes it would appear applicable to album pages. The poster noted that a retired chemist he knows "uses and recommends common mineral spirits. Takes about 3 seconds, then slide tongs between stamp & envelope; lay stamp face down on paper towel, use Q-tip and fresh spirits to further clean back of stamp. Use talc, not talcum powder, to finish job." If I were going to try this, I probably would use oderless mineral spirits for artists.

Please let me know if you've tried mineral spirits and if it works more reliably than water.

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