Things to Do with Old Postage Stamps

Postage stamps are placed on packages, letters and postcards. They come in different styles, sizes and prices. There are hundreds of different stamps available to choose from and most of them come to you for free. Some are only issued for a limited time while others have been around for years. So what can you do with all those stamps that come to you on your letters and boxes? There are several ways you can recycle used stamps.
Stamp Collecting

Begin your own stamp collection. I used to have a stamp collection years ago. Somewhere those old stamps are buried amongst my childhood toys. I haven’t thought about my stamp collection in years and I have no idea of where to even look for them. My neighbor gave me all her old used stamps. She carefully cut around the side of the stamps and left the post marks intact.

vintage and old stamps

Although I never had a stamp album, I kept them in the envelopes that she put them in. I also used to have pen-pals from all over the world and thought most of their stamps were beautiful. Of those stamps, I have the letters and the envelopes. Some of my stamps are old, from the late 1800s. It is hard to believe that to send a letter back then, it only cost 2 cents. In 1863 The price rose to 3 cents per half ounce, but in 1883 the rates dropped back to 2 cents. The postage rates stayed between 2 and 3 cents until 1958. The price rose to 4 cents. In 1885, the price was now longer per half ounce, but an ounce. Almost every three years after 1958, the rates have increased by 2 or 3 cents. In 2006 the rates have increased every year except for 2010. The year of 2011, the price of a postage stamp is 44 cents.

Some stamps are worth money, depending on the type of your stamp and the condition it is in. if the stamp’s physical appearance is in good condition along with a physical readable cancellation mark, the value often increases.

In order to save the stamps for your collection, you can save the entire envelope or you can cut away the envelope in straight lines, but do not cut away the postmark or any part of the stamp. Some collectors don’t want to collect the post marks. If this is the case, cut around the outside edge of the stamp leaving a fourth inch of the envelope around your stamp.

When you have the stamps cut off the envelopes, you can display them in a stamp album. A stamp album protects your collection from dust, sunlight, or other factors that can cause the stamps to deteriorate.

Donate Stamps to Charity

Some charities accept used stamps as a donation. You may want to check with your local charity to see if they do accept stamps and they ways that they want the stamps delivered. Some charities want you to cut around the postage stamp, but they want a fourth-inch border of the envelope left around the outside edge of the stamp.

Other charities want only the stamps, and not the envelope. If your charity requests this, there is an easy way to remove the postage stamp without a lot of frustration. It is a good idea to separate the envelopes first. White envelopes go in one pile, and colored envelopes go into a different pile. Also, when you are separating the envelopes check the white envelopes for any stamps that have been canceled out in red. You will need to put these in a separate pile. The envelopes are separated in this way because you are going to soak the stamps in water. Some colored envelopes and red cancellation marks have a tendency to bleed into the water, and this will dye your stamps a different color.

Cut the stamps off the envelopes leaving the fourth inch border around the outside. Fill a bowl with room temperature water and place the stamps face down into the bowl of water. Allow the stamps to soak for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the stamps that have come off of their envelopes after that amount of time. If some of the stamps are still stuck on, continue to let them soak for another half hour. Remove the stamps that have come away from the envelope. You can leave the stamps soaking, and be sure to check them every half-hour, but you need to remember that the longer you leave the stamps in the water, the weaker they become. Use a fork or a pair of wteezers to remove the stamps from the water. Be careful and gentle as you take them out because the stamps can rip or tear easily.

As you remove the stamps from the water, place them onto a doubled tea towel. Do not overlap any of the stamps, because they will stick together. Lay another folded, dry tea towel over the top of the wet stamps. Lay a heavy book, brick or other heavy object over the tea towels. This helps keep the stamps from curling. It will take about a week before the stamps are completely dry. For the stamps on colored envelopes or the ones with a red cancellation mark, you will need to each one separetely, so you don’t ruin a lot of stamps.

Package the stamps into an envelope, box or bag and take them to your local charity.

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