Stamp Collecting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I can't answer each stamp collecting question personally, but I think I can help you. Below are my answers to typical questions, along with links to some detailed material. Chances are that your question is somewhat similar to one of the quesitons below, and I hope that you find the information helpful.

Q1 : Buy stamps?
Q2 : Gold stamps?
Q3 : Identify and price a stamp?
Q4 : Sell a collection?
Q5 : Post on the bulletin board?
Q6 : Perfins, specialties?
Q7 : Make first day covers?
Q8 : Propose a stamp issue?
Q9 : An online catalog?
Q10 : Is there a safe way to remove a hinge remnant?
Q11 : Is there a stamp color chart on the Web?
Q12 : Is there a way to get stamps stuck on paper off without destroying them and gum on the back?
Q13 : How do I find Scott catalog numbers for stamps not in my catalog?
Q 1 : Where can I purchase US commemorative stamps for the year 1969?

A good place to start would be any dealer selling US stamps. There's a list of dealers on this site selling US stamps. Visit their sites and contact them :: USA Dealers.

Q 2 : I have a 22kt gold replica of the 24 cent Inverted Jenny. How much could I sell it for?

While these are very interesting "stamps," they're really not collected by stamp collectors, but someone who collects objects related to planes or aviation might like it. There's a page on the GS site explaining "gold replica" stamps :: Gold Replica Stamps: What are they worth?

Q 3 : I have a red US stamp with Lincoln on it. It has 4 cents on it. Is is worth anything?

This is a two-part question because, before we can say what it's worth, we have to identify the stamp. To ID the stamp, you first have to know the country. If it isn't obvious from where it's from check out the stamp identifier :: Stamp Identifier.

After you have figure out the country, you need to figure out what issue it is, and the best place for this is a stamp catalog. Most public libraries will have some stamp collecting books and hopefully some catalogs, which should take care of everything. On the other hand, there are several sites that have online catalogs that you could try :: Online Stamp Catalogs.

The last question is what everyone wants to know. Is this stamp just a piece of paper, or is it equal to my car payment. Now you have to check the market.

Catalog values and stamp prices aren't always equal because the condition and grade of every stamp is different, and sometimes the information that was used to arrive at a catalog value was out-of-date. To learn about grading and condition read :: Stamp Grading and Condition . Use the catalog value as the ballpark, but armed with that information find out what stamps similar to yours are selling for.

For a more indepth look at how you can go about matching your stamp to a value using what's available online read :: Find Stamp Values Online.

To check out what stamps have recently sold for at auction on eBay (which is where more and more stamps are selling) just use the page we've set up here at Glassine Surfer :: eBay: Recently Completed Stamp Auctions.

(By the way, the red 4-cent Lincoln is a very, very common US stamp from the late 1950's and early 1960's, when the first-class rate was 4-cents. If there isn't anything different about it, when compared to other pictures of it, then you may as well use it to mail a letter. On the other hand, from the description of the stamp didn't say whether if was uncancelled or not, so always try to describe your stamps fully.)

Q 4 : I own a very large Canadian stamp collection dating back to 1897 that my father left me. It contains, what I am told, are some very rare and valuable pieces. Where can I find an agent or broker to do that?

If you want a stamp dealer to buy the collection from you, just start contacting dealers in your area. That's easier said than done, but there are several ways to locate stamp dealers anywhere.

Look in the business section of your phonebook. Look in the newspapers for ads about local stamp shows. If there's one, go on the first day of the show and talk to some dealers. They should be able to help you get started. You should bring along some of the stamps, or album pages to show what you're talking about. There's a list of shows here :: Stamp Shows and Exhibitions .

If there aren't any shows in your area, you should contact a stamp club in your area, or if you have to, even one that's in an adjacent city :: US Stamp Clubs.

Q 5 : How do I post a message onto the stamp bulletin board?

The answer is posted on the Forum FAQ page.

Q 6 : I can't find anything about perfins here.

Well, it's here under :: Specialties. If you can't seem to find something on the GS site, type in some keywords into the "search box" in the right-hand yellowish column and then click "Find."

Q 7 : I like to have envelopes with the stamp on the first day it is issued. The post office says I can do my own.

First Day of Issue covers and cachets are a very popular area of stamp collecting, and you can make your own. For details on making your own FDC's read :: FDC's and Cachets. You can get the USPS address to send in your own covers and the deadline for submissions from the new issue calendar :: USA 2003 stamp issues.

Q 8 : Our regional historical society would like information about having a stamp issued by the US government to mark our 300th anniversary.

The process for proposing a subject for a United States stamp is very competitive, but if you plan in advance, you have as good a chance as anyone else. Read the story :: Propose a New United States Stamp.

Q 9 : Where can I find an Israel catalog on-line?

All of the online stamp catalogs that I know about are in our Web directory under Online Catalogs. If it's not there, you should troll the country listings for sites that might help you with a particular catalog, and if you find it, please email me the URL so we can help out some other stamp collectors in the future.

Q 10 : Is there a safe way to remove a hinge remnant? Should I even try?

The first rule of philatelic medicine is "first, do no harm." Determine if the hinge remnant has caused or is causing damage to the stamp, either from the hinge's acidity, or from the hinge contracting with age and causing the stamp to curl or bend. You may also want to determine if the hinge is covering over a small tear or hole that otherwise might get worse if the hinge is removed.

If you think the hinge ought to be removed, then try a sweat box first, before moving toward more invasive steps. A sweat box raises the humidity around the stamp and hopes to loosen the gum that holds the hinge/paper to the stamp without getting the stamp wet or soaked. It's described in this article :: Build Your Own Stamp Sweat Box

If humidity doesn't work, then moisten the back of the remnant, applying water with a cotton swab. If that doesn't loosen the hinge, the next step would be a gentle soaking in clean water. Check the links in :: Soaking Stamps. But, whatever action you think necessary, first practice your hinge removing techniques on a stamp that has a similar remnant and you won't mind sending to the stamp morgue.

Q 11 : Where can I find a stamp color chart on the Web? I'm interested in seeing the difference between lake, carmine, crimson lake, etc.

Your question brings up many problems and one answer. There aren't any stamp color charts on the Web right now.

Problem #1. The old catalog color names don't immediately mean what they used to. Colors like vermillon and lake aren't common to us anymore.

Problem #2. The old catalogers had to give names to ink colors they had never seen, so they mixed names like, crimson lake, to best describe a color. Then the names got adjectives, such as "deep, light, dull, bright, clear," etc.

Problem #3. Changlings. The chemicals of some inks change color with age, or exposure to sunlight, dampness, or other chemicals, so what was once dull carmine lake isn't that any longer.

Problem #4. When color swatches are put on a PC screen, the rendering of color is dependant on the PC/Mac setup, not to mention the original source itself.

Solution: Seeing is believing, so get your hands on a quality stamp color chart and hold on to it. It seems they're getting hard to come by.

Q 12 : Is there a way to get stamps stuck on paper off without destroying them and gum on the back?

More than likely the gum has been disturbed, but it's hard to tell by how much until they are lifted from the paper. You're going to have to let some humidity to gently loosen the gum from the paper, and this process is one that requires some time, care, and luck. It also depends on the gum, the paper, how much the gum liquified before sticking to the paper, and how long the stamps have been stuck.

And in the end, it may very well be that the gum is so disturbed or removed that the stamps are not what they once were. Read over question and answer 10 in the FAQ for more information and then start experimenting with some of the less expensive, expendable stamps. Sorry for your loss.

Q 13 : I have a current Scott Catalog, but many stamps are not included. How do I find out the Scott number?

Catalog numbers are generally assigned when the stamp is issued, though sometimes even changed years later. To find the newest numbers before the year-end printed catalogs, you'd need to read "Scott Monthly," published monthly by the editors of those heavy catalogs.