How to soak self-adhesive postage stamps is a question I often hear beginning collectors ask. A self-adhesive postage stamp is a stamp with a pressure sensitive adhesive. They do not require moistening in order to adhere to paper. Self adhesive postage stamps usually have a backing paper that can be soaked and removed.

I have noticed stamp collectors on stamp collecting groups asking for information on how to soak self adhesive postage stamps from paper. I have noticed other collectors suggesting that to soak self adhesive postage stamps is very difficult, if not impossible.

In response, I have written this article with instructions about how to soak and remove self-adhesive postage stamps without damaging them. I have just spent the last 6 weeks removing many thousands of used self adhesive Australian stamps with my 18 year old son, with very satisfactory and flawless results.

1. Sort your stamps ready for soaking. Remember to separate any stamps that are on coloured paper as the dyes can transfer onto your stamps. Any amount up to 100 at a time seems to work well with this method.

2. Place your stamps face-up in a large container of clean room temperature water. (Water any warmer than room temperature appears to make the stamp paper softer and a bit more difficult to work with). Spread 1 layer and gently submerge them under water with your fingers to get them wet. Repeat until you have put all your chosen stamps in the water. Leave soaking for between 1/2 to 1 hour.

3. The trick to getting self adhesive stamps off paper intact is to gently prise the paper slowly back from the corner of the stamp. You take the paper from the stamp and not the stamp from the paper.

Be very careful not to bend the stamp’s corner.

4. Pick up 1 stamp at a time and place face down on your extended index and middle finger on your other hand. Gently peel back a corner of the paper, keeping the stamp perfectly straight. If the paper starts to separate from the stamp, you can continue peeling the paper away from the stamp until it is all removed. At the slightest resistance, drop the stamp back in the water for a bit longer.

5. You will usually find that stamps that are returned to the water can be processed quite easily after about another 15 minutes. Stamps with a bit of glue left on them can be finished by gently rolling the glue towards the outside edge of the perforations.

6. Place the stamps one at a time face-up onto a towel spread out on a table. Leave until no beads of water are left visible on the stamps.

7. Lay the stamps out between several pages of a large heavy book and leave to press for a couple of days.

8. You should now have some very nice flat self adhesive stamps off paper ready to add to your collection.

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