I posted this on another topic the other day :
An interesting discussion of re-gumming :
"Summary Tip #10: "Is it a re-gum?" Learn about re-gummed stamps.
In our last 'trade tip' we talked about understanding quality and how to train your 'Philatelic Eye'. Now we can apply this to something that you occasionally hear about but there does not seem to be that much information written about it. The subject is 're-gumming'.
I can remember being present before a stamp auction - when I received the most amazing 'demonstration' of redistribution of gum. The 'gentleman' concerned was showing his 'skill' of making a mint previously hinged stamp look like it had never been hinged. You could see that the stamp had been hinged, but there was no remnant - the gum was moistened - and the stamp literally 'whizzed' around a flat smooth resistant surface under finger pressure.
Before the gum had dried it was turned face up - the gum looked 'flatter' and duller - but the area where it had been hinged was now 'consistent' with the overall appearance of the rest of the stamp. In short, to the uninitiated the stamp appeared to be unmounted mint.
Needless to say - we never ever purchased a stamp from this individual, who is probably no longer with us ... but it was an excellent demonstration of what to look for, and of understanding how stamps can be altered.
Our first 'tip' when it comes to re-gumming is something so simple that it is often overlooked. Buy a few examples of the cheapest mint stamps of the period that you are collecting. In essence this really applies to the period pre-1950 ... as by far the majority of all that you collect from the last 60+ years is going to have untampered gum, be it hinged or unhinged. But, even the cheapest stamps can be tampered with; true, it is unlikely, but we have seen examples within the last two years of relatively inexpensive mint stamps which have been re-gummed.
Why bother you might think? Well, if something can be easily improved, it must, for some - be money for old rope.
You can buy 100+ year old stamps with original gum of Great Britain for as little as ÂŁ1 or less. Take a look at the 1887 Jubilee 1/2d vermilion - SG#197 - send us a stamp addressed envelope (or a mint with gum current airmail rate stamp from your country and an addressed envelope) and we'll send you one free of charge. It may not be perfect but it will be original gum. Collectors of other countries will soon identify suitable candidates.
Take a look at the backs of your mint stamps from one period from one country. Chances are there may be some considerable variation. You have to make allowances for stamps which may have been purchased at different times and from different sources. Philately is a truly international business. Imagine stamps that have come to you from all over the world. Some British Empire stamps may have been printed in the UK - and been distributed here - without ever seeing foreign climes - others may have literally travelled around the globe.
Compare the backs of these stamps to establish in your mind what is obviously 'right'. It can help, for example, if a stamp is lightly hinged - my preference is often for a lightly hinged stamp - such as the British 1929 PUC ÂŁ1 - this is a stamp that 'pays' to be tampered with. Look for duller patches - in typical areas where you would expect hinging - not overlooking other areas - blocks of 4 were often hinged in a central position ... and later on 'broken' into singles - so previous hinging positions can vary.
Duller areas often indicate where the gum may have been redistributed. Now compare the gum on your stamps. Most should be consistent within the type/period - a re-gummed or tampered example will stand out against its companions.
Take a closer look at this stamp. Crude regummers leave gum in the perforation holes - stamp perforation is one of the last actions - so gum in the perf holes is a telltale giveaway.
Now here there may really be benefit in employing a Ultra Violet lamp - they can show traces of previous hinging, or where the postmark may have been 'cleaned' off a stamp and the stamp subsequently regummed. But, don't buy one unless you are a 'serious' collector or buying from sources that can not be trusted - in which case why take the risk of dealing with people who may not guarantee or refund you when there are plenty of good dealers and auctions that will.
Some dealers swear by the old adage that a re-gummed stamp lying face down on the palm of your dry but warm hand will 'curl' in the opposite direction to an original untampered with example. I have never been a full advocate of this - but it is well worth experimenting.
Let's examine the actual gum. Is it 'gluepy', is it too thick, is it too shiny or flat? You will soon have a very good idea indeed - whether your stamp is as it should be - but remember stamps react to their environment in a myriad of different ways ... so that what may first be thought of as re-gummed - may be toned gum - or original gum that has 'sweated' over the years - leaching into the paper - to give that stamp a more greasy transparent look and certainly less desirable.
Don't forget to turn your stamp over - and look at the face carefully, sometimes there are traces of gum on the face of the stamp, consider why they may be there.
Finally, turn to your Stanley Gibbons / Scott / Michel / Yvert catalogue - look the stamp up - does it catalogue significantly more as unmounted mint than hinged? Some German 3rd Reich period stamps catalogue an incredible 15X more unmounted mint than hinged. Don't forget to check the differential between the used catalogue value and the mint. Some stamps are so common used that they can catalogue 10p or 10cents - but ÂŁ100's or $100's mint. When you realise the difference can be so high - you realise why it pays to study your stamps.
Happy collecting from us all,
PS. If you find this 'tip' interesting please forward it to a philatelic friend.
Managing Director: Universal Philatelic Auctions, Omniphil & Avon Approvals, Avon Mixtures, UniversalPhilatelic (Ebay)
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