Damaged used stamps

Hi everyone! I´ve been getting some used stamp packs lately from ebay and other places, and they contain some damaged stamps. Some are pretty obviously damaged. But I have some doubts about others. (pictures below) I guess the rule of thumb is “suspicious = damaged”, but I´d like to get an opinion of someone experienced. Because i see people sometimes offer stamps with these defects to exchange, and well, I got all these from someone too.

I found this helpful explanation by Wolfgang @ch_nz in “Used stamps” RR:


  • Missing tooth? => damaged
  • Thin paper? => damaged
  • crease, fold, torn => damaged
  • pen cancellation => damaged (unless from a time when this was the norm (some areas in the 1800s).
  • writing on the front => damaged
  • discolouration - typically from coloured paper when stamps are being separated from paper => damaged
    Always check both sides of a stamp: sometimes a crease is not visible on the picture side, thin paper and discolouration is often only visible on the back.

Maybe some that depend:

  • Pencil writing on back? => technically not damaged, but I wouldn’t consider them for my collection (unless I am desperate)
  • hinge/hingemark on used stamps => not damaged, but I always remove hinges for stamps that I keep
  • hinge/hingemark on mint stamp after around 1945 => serious flaw which reduces the value considerably (I will not have them in my collection unless desperate)
  • hinge/hingemark on mint stamp before 1945 => can be expected, value enhanced if there are no hingemarks

Another thing is that if you have multiple hinge remains on older stamps it is hard to tell if the hinges hide a damage (thin paper).

Here are the stamps that I have doubts about:

  1. Ink from something being stuck to it on the back?

  2. Leftovers of the paper on the back? (sometimes tiny, like the first one)

  3. Hinges Wolfgang said were ok. So would all these be ok, or only the upper one?

  4. Borders turning brown? Sometimes just corners a little bit? (Upper row bect pic)

  5. Slightly yellowish stains (i guess the gum leftovers are changing colour)? (Second row next pic)

  6. The whole stamp turning evenly brown on the back? (Second row next pic)

  1. Old hinges spots?

  2. Folds and creases: absolutely any or only really bad ones?

Thank you!

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Just some observations. The first one is where you are exchanging stamps? Some web sites, they don’t tolerate this nonsense. In every hobby you have knuckleheads that like to fob off their trash on others.

But stamps missing perfs, thin backs and so on are definitely damaged.Used Stamps that have hinge remnants - most collectors would find okay. But that area is a subjective one. I am constantly removing hinges from the backs of used stamps. Sometimes the stamp is a casualty, because as careful as I am, I’ve sometimes wrecked the stamp.

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I bought several different mixtures and exchanged with several different people, some were good, some not so good. However, I want all the damaged stamps to end their journey with me and become handmade art. I don´t want to pass them on to anyone. I looked for some detailed guides as to what is acceptable and what is not, but I didn´t manage to find any, so I decided to make this post. Maybe a brown corner and some minor folds are not that big of a deal to destroy the stamps. I used to gather only modern mint stamps, so I´m still new when it comes to used ones.

Have you meet any great master of philatelist at hobby meet up or try to find a second opinion from people who are well-versed in philately?

Try to ask for their opinion and generally they are very generous to explain to you what is wrong with your used stamps.

I know quite a lot of collecting used stamps. I have collected Finnish stamps over 45 years. There are several opinions to some of your questions but here are my thoughts:

I would accept them all to my collection.

All of them will be rejected. Surely.

Some collectors think they are OK, some don’t. I would reject two of them:
the 3rd in the middle has other damages, and the stamp under it - its ink has speared to the back side.

  1. Borders turning brown
    may be OK if the stamp is very very old and not common.
    I would reject all of your samples on the upper row.

  2. yellowish stains - or other stains
    no no for me

  3. the whole stamp brown on the back
    It depends on the paper quality of the stamp and the quality of the glue. The older mint (not used) stamps can change their colour later. OK for me if they are mint. Used and yellowed - no for me.

Their surface is broken, they both have been damaged. The first one has also water damages.
No to the collection.

  1. Folds and creases:
    absolutely none.
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Thank you so much for the explanation, it helped me a lot :pray:


May I ask you about self adhesive stamps as well? I use a glue remover to soak them, and most of them turn out fine. However, sometimes the cancelation ink dissolves too. Especially at the edges
Should I put these ones into my trash pile or not?

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to @LondonAddict
Hello! I’m not a specialist but only a long term collector. I would accept the astronaut dog stamp to the collection if its back side is intact and smooth. But I don’t like the upright cancellation on it.

Those self adhesive stamps I collect as clips, with a piece of envelope paper. I don’t use any chemicals to remove stamps off the paper.


Iif you desk looks something like this, you know about stamps!

Crafters will buy these in bulk for craft projects, though, even if they’re worthless to collectors.

True story: My other hobbies include emobroidery, history, and reading. I’ve read way too much about Tudor England. At some point, I heard about the Royal School of Needlework in London which is headquartered in Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court Palace was important to Henry VIII and the Tudors, and the Royal School of Needlework had an embroidery kit of the front a postcard of the palace.

I bought and stitched the kit. I decided to have it framed, and I wanted the mat covered with used British commemorative postage stamps, so I went to Etsy or eBay and bought 1 pound / 500 grams.

I’ve seen Christmas ornaments, earrings, keychains, bookmarks, and other things made of stamps.


For the stamps in your photo, soaking them in water is just fine. USA self adhesive stamps that were issued in about 2007 onward are impossible to soak in water and need the glue remover, but stamps that are from before 2007 can be soaked in water and be removed just fine, this should help with the postmark issue.


Mostly i would consider all stamps with backside other than white or something suspicious as damaged or weak condition and use them for my decorations and crafts
Ps. Number written on back of stamp with pencil is usual and it can be considered okay for used stamps