How To Remove Hinges
From Stamps

By Bill Weiss

It can be tricky removing to stuck down stamp hinges from some stamps. There are two different methods that can be used;
   1. By applying pressure
   2. By using water or other moisture .

1. Pressure.
Place the stamp in an approval card or any other container/holder made of acetate or similar material with the gummed side up. With the stamp securely held under the acetate, use a pair of tongs or the back of a spoon, or another similar roundish metal object and put downward pressure on the hinge area, rubbing hard while applying the pressure. Unless stuck badly, this should loosen the hinge enough to peel it off successfully.


2. Water/moisture.
Various implements can be used to apply water/moisture to the hinge to loosen it. Preferred tools are Q-tip or small artist’s paint brush; some merely use a finger. I use a fine-point brush and make the point of the brush smaller by cutting off the tip, leaving only about 5mm of brush. Apply water/moisture (aside from water, a preferred moisture is old-fashioned spit!) only to the hinge remnant, being careful not to allow water to spill over the edges of the hinge directly onto the gum.

To prevent the likelihood of this happening, I squeeze off all excess water from the brush, and then apply the wet brush lightly to the hinge remnant. I use lukewarm water, which will help melt the gum under the hinge slightly, hopefully enabling the hinge to be carefully peeled off. Because we have squeezed off all excess water to prevent spillage over the hinge edges, it will usually be necessary to apply multiple water brushings to the hinge. Allow sufficient time for the hinge to start to “bubble” up from the stamp before attempting to lift off the hinge. Avoid digging around the edges of the hinge to try to get it to lift. Often this digging will cause a thin. Let the moisture do the job, not your tongs. Once a bubble edge starts, you can then carefully get the tong tips under the edge and carefully try to peel off the hinge. If it will not peel smoothly, stop and repeat moisture application. Some old-time hinges are quite heavy and difficult to remove/lift, so often patience is required.

After the hinge is successfully removed, a light brushing over the area where the hinge was stuck can result in a smoother appearance. The gum which was lost in that area can sometimes be “replaced” by transferring gum from another stamp (I have often seen selvedge gum use for this purpose). I will describe this process in another article.