How to Collect Used Stamps

Used stamps are stamps that have been canceled, or stamped, by the post office. They cannot be used again. Collecting used stamps is a fun and exciting hobby that can be more rewarding than buying mint stamps.


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    Collect the stamps. Look in the trash or recycling bin for envelopes with stamps attached. Ask your parents, siblings (beware of rivalry!), neighbors, relatives, and friends to give you their stamps. Rip a section of the envelope with the stamp attached. Do not remove the stamp from the envelope at this point.
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    Soak the stamps. Prepare a cup of warm water. Be sure that it is not hot, which will cause the stamp to be damaged. Submerge the envelope sections with the stamps attached for 30 minutes or so.
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    Remove the stamps from the envelope. After a period of time, the stamps should separate from the envelopes with ease. If the stamps refuse to come off, soak for a longer period of time. Some stamps are naturally harder to remove than others. Be very careful here!
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    Dry the stamps. Carefully remove superficial water by drying the stamps with a paper towel. When doing this, do not wipe the stamps for obvious reasons; press the towel to the stamps instead.
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    Press the stamps. Arrange the stamps on a sheet of paper. Stack additional layers of paper above and below this original layer. Place a textbook on top of this arrangement. Let the stamps dry completely for a couple of hours. In short, press the stamps as if you were pressing leaves.
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    Collecting: Separate the stamps by denomination (this is the amount of money the stamp is worth), country, and whatever category you desire. Purchase a stamp album to hold your stamps. (I personally do not have an album, so I store my stamps in small homemade envelopes. For example, each unique type of stamp has its own envelope. I use a larger envelope (based on year) to contain these small envelopes.)
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  • Collect the stamps soak them together in batches to save time and effort.
  • Some collect stamps by category (animals, machines, plants, etc.)
  • Some stamps that come in the mail do not look canceled. These are presorted stamps, and are used by companies in place of ink-stamped envelopes for advertising and bulk-mailing reasons. Do not attempt to reuse these. Doing so could cost you a hefty fine!
  • Some stamps come in sets of four, and should be collected together. Some examples are: berries, toy cars, presorted standard American eagle


  • Do not attempt to cut the stamp from the envelope. Soak instead.
  • Use common sense. DO NOT try to remove the stamp without soaking in water. This will inevitably result in the stamp being torn and ruined.

Things You'll Need

  • Stamps
  • Cup
  • Water
  • Paper and heavy book- for pressing
  • Album

Article Info

Categories: Stamp Collecting