How To Remove Stamps From An Envelope

\"\"Removing stamps from an envelope requires patience and all due care. Removing stamps from an envelope by scratching or simply peeling it apart should never be a practice.

Experienced philatelists know the trick(s) that \”Soaking\” is by far the easiest and best way to remove stamps from envelopes.

It is better to tear the envelope around the stamp, leaving a small margin.

\"\"With the stamp facing down, place it into a pan of warm, but not hot, water. After a few minutes the stamp should sink to the bottom. The gum generally used should not take more time. However, sometimes people use different types of self-adhesive gums and in that case you may need to wait a little longer. So better have enough patience.

When all adhesive is dislodged, remove the stamp preferably using stamp tongs. Using stamp tongues is highly recommended as it helps you keep the stamp intact while seperating it from an envelope.

Place the stamp between two paper towels and put a heavy object, such as a book, on top to keep the stamp from curling as it dries. Leave overnight. Your stamp(s0 would be ready to smile in your collection the next morning!

Got other tips on removing stamps from the envelopes? Share with us your wisdom…

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13 Responses to How To Remove Stamps From An Envelope

  1. Deepak Dube says:

    It would be better still to float the piece on water rather than place it with the stamp down, as this would save the colour of the stamp getting adversely affected. This , of course , might take a little longer for the stamp to float free.
    The water being used , from my experience, is preferable at room temperature, again in the interest of the color and the texture of the stamps being salvaged.
    It is also to be taken care that stamps on certain cheap brown or pink envelopes, very commonly used there days , are floated in a seperate vessel as the paper of such envelopes exudes color when soaked, and this could discolour the stamps floating alongside. Stamps fixed on such envelopes are , anyway, difficult to be salvaged without being discoloured. Yet the discolouration can be minimized by removing as much of the paper of the envelope as is possible , before floating it on water and without damaging the stamp in the process .
    After the stamps have come off, they can be left to dry on coarse bamboo paper or cellophane , on which they would not stick. In case the stamp still has gum , it can be placed face down on the dry sheet.
    After the stamp has dried up fully , it can be placed between the pages of any plain diary or exercise – book and this diary or the exercise – book can be placed beneath a pile of books or newspapers for a few days to press the dry stamps into the correct straightness.
    Deepak Dube

  2. Rajesh Pareek says:

    I am thankful for sharing such a nice/useful information…. After soaking we can remove the stamp using a tong but many a times (rather say most of the times) the glue is not dislodged completely; better we use clean hands, hold the stamp between fingers and rub it a little (on glue side) but very gently within the water so that the glue is removed as otherwise when kept between paper towels (or even after that when put in an album) it will stick thereon….. This is what I have experienced… Suggestions/modifications will be welcomed.. Thanks

  3. R.K.MISHRA says:


  4. Rajesh Pareek says:

    Dear Deepak Dube ji…
    Despite all the efforts/precautions when the stamps are put freely/open they start curling…. this problem has been seen in case of mint stamps even…

  5. Nowdays, the words such as ‘Gum, Glue’ etc hold no place in American philately circle as USPS stamp issues have their adhesive made of a ‘secret’ polymer like substance. Thus, procedure described in this article yields little successful results. Add to that another problem of a colored paper if the stamp is affixed on such an enveope and you’ll have RUINED the stamp you’re trying to remove by giving it a luxurious ‘bath’ in a soap water ‘tub’. Why would one want to remove a stamp that’s no longer in a MINT condition anyway? Just cut the paper area closest to the proximity of a stamp and be ‘HAPPY’ with it. You can use hingeless mounts for them which come in a variety of brand names and frame in to. By the way, it’s against the law to REUSE a non-cancelled stamp that has escaped its ‘DEFACING’ from an incompetant postal clerk or machine, ……so why bother to unglue and remove that too? But then, as a hobbyist there is always a CHILD in you and a bit of a ‘mad’ SCIENTIST in me. Here’s what I did to remove some of the toughest US stamps for my seven year old grandchild: Soak the cutout in warm rubbing alcohol (typically a 70% denatured prep of Ethanol/Isopropanol mix) and then pray for ‘me’. I’ve even tried very hot ‘dish washing’ soap water for our USPS ‘devils’ and have a 90% success. Hence next step was to I try a combination of Rubbing alcohol and Soap water (HOT I may add) in a 1:1 volume ratio and increased the success rate to narly 100%. Just don’t count on the quality of printing inks used for the stamps @ rest of the countries though! In that regard, USPS has done a great job -it just doesn’t care about our complaints over its ‘devil of an adhesive’.

    • Rajesh Pareek says:

      Here talking about American ‘culture’ is irrelevant… Do our (Indian) postal stamps have some adhesive like that American stamps have… !!!! Certainly not. Then how we can compare with American stamps… We are living here in India and sharing knowledge/experience what is feasible here only…..
      Secondly, here the stamp collectors have joined the discussion then how one can assume/blame that the stamp is ‘deglued’ just to reuse it…. How funny !!! A stamps collector would never think of such an ‘illegal’ practice.
      Further, if the stamp is not ‘washed’ then its adhesive will definitely start showing its adverse effect over a period of time and hence it is highly recommended to deglue/wash the stamps.

      • The only FUNNY part here is the notion that Indian stamp collectors are interested in removing used stamps from its own country as I thought that this blog is read across the world. Obviously you don’t receive any mail from USA and others to whom I send in India almost on a daily basis insist that I better use US commemorative stamps as postage instead of metered ones and perhaps you may want to scratch your head as to why? For most, gaining knowledge is REAL culture irrespective of where they live and helping others is considered a noble cause instead of criticizing an individual. Perhaps you may want to read my most recent response on new UNPA issue -which deals with United Nations as it relates to more than two hundred countries and um…. Not INDA alone for a shock!

  6. Rolando de Melo says:

    Well removal of stamp from envelopes has become a pain, can some put some light on how to remove self adhesive type stamps (most of USA’s coil & booklet stamp come with self adhesive), There is an type of stamp which is thermally sensitive.
    Some remove it with pure citric spray, WD40, using hot iron, and other chemical nothing seems to be save.
    CAN ANYONE HELP ?????????????

  7. Dinu says:

    I do not understand when people share knowledge why does anyone should get offended.
    Take the best and leave the rest.

    For me
    – I had never removed stamps from paper in my early days. Sure for Indian stamps. Now I see most of them are either discoloured or have turned brittle.
    – later stage I was removing stamps with wet technique as described above. Have destroyed many during the process due to less patience and less knowledge.
    – now buy mint and store them in Hawid mount which I fix on 100% acid free paper. I do not know what will happen after 20 years or so.
    – had received some used USPS stamps , have tried water wet technique. 90% lost.
    – have purchased mint by postal order from Royal Mail, Singapore post and USPS. have not dared to remove the back paper. Kept those inside Hawid mount, original from Berlin, Germany . This information is not for showing off that I use Hawid mount rather to emphasise fact that when I was ignorant about mount some unscrupulous element have sold me some mount telling Hawid, Lighthouse etc. Where stamp got a fading , opposite to Sun Tan, within max 3 years. Had to throw those off. Coming back to these self adhesive stamps , though kept in mount I am not sure how the unused glue, glue surely is a chemical, will effect those mint stamps in long run.

    Now I believe that every problem has a solution and every solution will create a new problem.
    Have done a bit of reading on archieveing technique,
    – like absence of light
    – requirement of torque free paper
    – breath ability of paper
    – low humidity and low oxygen atmosphere , etc, etc

    But being a person of very common income group have realised those are beyond my reach.

    So now I keep a scan copy of my collection and keep the stamps as it comes in Hawid mount and pray to God that my stamps should have a longer youthful life than me.

    Any idea to increase the life without spending more than two times than the face value of stamps? Indian – because due to forex exchange rate for other country will prefer the cost to be equal to face value per stamps for preservation.

    Shall appreciate direct honest knowledge sharing without taunt, jib or any criticism. Ten commandment of philately includes that each philatelist has their own choice and it should not be criticised

    • Dinu has basically told the same thing when I first commented, i.e. Do not try to remove the stamps (and use ‘mounts’ instead upon clipping from the paper) including the risks involved due to soaking in water -if they are on GLUED on colored envelopes. I liked his detailed response including the last 5 words and there are some ‘WISE GUYS’ here who should take a lesson from it so that they won’t appear like ‘……’ fill in the blanc.

  8. Sandeep says:

    Very nice article and discussion.
    I decided to go for mint stamps (from India :-)),
    – to save trouble of removing from envelopes,
    – have no cancellation marks to bar the beautiful view and
    – also complete the collection (as it seemed rather unlikely to do so with cancelled stamps).
    My quest still is to determine – how much does the gum deteriorate the health of mint stamps of India, in long run?
    An interesting incident I want to share about an internet stamp seller who sold to me unfairly. Thanks to a high mag camera from my mentor, I was able to establish that he sold a used se-tenant (probably spared by the incompetent postal clerk) through clever re-gumming and even re-perforating. (what an imp!).

  9. Dinu says:

    Dear Sandeepji,
    Looks like you are having much more experience than me.

    In case you do not mind shall suggest you not to buy from internet and pushy dealer. Physical inspection is must. People are becoming so much expert in cheating that catching them needs very high expertise.

    Please do not think I have never faced cheating. One ‘gentlemen’ from our financial capital had cheated me to great extent. I could (since story has to be crystal clear with all proofs ) only make a half write up. Main problem is the sms he has sent me – to make photograph from those write my comments is taking a huge time

    Therefore be aware….

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