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Subject: Postage stamps

Postage stamps

From: Linda Edquist <edquistls>
Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Elly Pouwels <ellypouwels [at] erfgoedbrabant__nl> writes

>After not finding any recent report on either CoOL or AATA web sites
>about the storage of postage stamps I would like to ask: What are
>the latest views on the storage of postage stamps in Melinex
>sleeves? Is the adhesive an argument for not using these?

The issue of storage for postal stamps varies according the
accessibility requirements, the type of storage container and
environmental conditions the individual or panes will be exposed to,
and the type of stamp (gummed, self adhesive or used).

At the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum we house postal related
objects using a variety of different methods.  There is no "perfect
storage" for postal stamps however here are several of the options
we use.

For display, both on exhibit and in albums, we use clear polyester
film, either spot welded and sealed or in sleeves, depending on the
situation.

Long term storage of single stamps, where only limited accessibility
is required, are placed in the small #1 glassine envelopes, in
archival boxes stored in cabinets.

In the case of panes, they are placed in archival folders housed in
flat archival clam shell boxes.

Exceptions are addressed individually and can include a combination
of all of the above, especially in the case of high value or fragile
objects. This can include placing a stamp in an L sleeve of clear
polyester with buffered tissue behind it then corner mounted inside
of an archival folder.

I have never seen any adverse action to the gummed surfaces of a
postal stamp from the polyester film though if exposed to high
levels of humidity or moisture the inevitable  will happen--the
adhesive will activate and adhere to the surface it touches. Once
the gum surface has been disturbed the value reflects the fact that
it is no longer considered a 'mint' stamp.

With used stamps this is less of an issue since the gummed surface
has already been compromised.

When it comes to storage of postal stamps the best defense is to
protect them from any exposure to high humidity levels and poor
quality storage materials. The rest depends on the needs of the
individual institution or collector. If I can be of any more
assistance please feel free to contact me.

Linda Edquist
Conservator, Preservation Office
National Postal Museum
Smithsonian Institution
202-633-5511


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:43
               Distributed: Wednesday, November 26, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-43-003
                                  ***
Received on Tuesday, 25 November, 2003

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