What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

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icemaster
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What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by icemaster »

What is the best watermark detector for USA stamps?, I have several thousand to check out and I don't really want to use fluid.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by DJM »

Hi,

If you do a search on Stampboards there are plenty of threads asking the same question. Have a look at this thread
http://stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=10199&hilit=watermark+detector for a start.

Apart from holding them up to a light, fluid is your best option - the mechanical watermark detectors are painful to use and don't do a very good job.

Darrin.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Norbert Jenkins »

DJM is right in many ways:

1) Watermark fluid is what almost every dealer I know uses - fast and accurate and does more than just show watermarks
2) Holding up to a window or lamp works well in many cases and costs little
3) The 'Signoscope' types are expensive for things that don't really work
4) I will get shot down for this - I use and like and have some success with the 'Morley Bright Instatector'. Some people hate it or find it useless.
5) Do a board search and you will find way more about points 1-4, with people discussing 3 and 4 in more depth, and from many sides. Some pro, some con.

Good luck and happy watermark-finding!

Norbert

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Allanswood »

My signoscope works perfectly well thanks very much! However I only need to use it for the very few stamps I cant see in natural light.

Even my cheapy LED torch shining from behind a stamp shows up many watermarks.

I dont think the OP wishes to test thousands of stamps in fluid, he'd need to buy gallons of the stuff.

But I also dont see why most of them cant be confirmed just by checking against light, setting the hard ones aside and then fluid or other means.
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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by patg »

(A perennial favorite, with much discussion, and many threads on this)

My question to watermark fluid is why is it so expensive (~$20) for 250ml, and why can't I find a formula for it anywhere on the internet?

I occasionally use Ronsonol, and while it works, doesn't seem to finish up as clean as traditional fluid.

As always,
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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Clive »

Agree with Greg (as usual), but tricky watermarks will show through with 'watermark fluid'.

Although if I had to pay $20 for 250ml ....... :shock:

Here in the Deep South there is a product called 'Walkabout' shellite, costs about two dollars for 500ml. Works brilliantly, no residual smell, no discolouration, and can be used on mint as well as used stamps.

I guess 'Walkabout' won't be available in North America, but there's sure to be something similar available over there.

Clive

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by europhil »

Lighter fluid and other chemicals contain impurities. Watermark
fluid doesn't, at least not to any significant degree.

If using lighter fluid doesn't bother you, I would ask - would you
soak your used stamps in dirty water?

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Clive »

Jay,

Everything has impurities of some sort or another.

No, I wouldn't soak stamps in dirty water, but what the hell has that got to do with whether using shellite is good or not good?

Some leading philatelists recommended and put me on to this product years ago - Glen Stephens recommends it - and I've never once had cause to regret taking their advice.

If you have evidence that its use is harmful to stamps, please share.

Clive

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Norbert Jenkins »

europhil wrote:would you
soak your used stamps in dirty water?
Yes, of course I would. And in fact I have. And so have you. Indeed anyone who has ever soaked a stamp in water has only ever done so in 'dirty' water and never once in the whole history of stamp collecting has anyone once ever done differently. This is a scientific fact.

The important question is not 'is it dirty' (answer is always 'yes', if we mean dirty as in 'contains some level of impurity'). The important question is 'is a it significantly dirty'. That is to say, is any contamination in there likely to cause any harm and if so is it significant enough to be of concern.

Keep in mind that the last glass of tap water you drank contained some level of plutonium, arsenic and gold, as well as many other elements you cpuld likely name. But it's not to a significant level.

The question therefore becomes 'does lighter fluid contain enough impurity to cause damage that the 'official' ('pure' - but of course not absolutely so) fluid does not'.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Finchley Chris »

Norbert Jenkins wrote:
Watermark fluid is what almost every dealer I know uses - fast and accurate and does more than just show watermarks

Norbert
Where is watermark fluid (rather than lighter fuel) still sold in the U.K.? I can't find anywhere selling/stocking it (admittedly just from a Google search). The Prinz brand comes up often but no-one seems to have it in stock.
Could it have been banned? :roll:

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by librarianc »

I use a Signoscope regularly for those stamps that the bright light doesn't help with........and it has paid for itself several times over. I also have watermark fluid for the 5% or less of stamps that are simply painful to watermark (can you say 1970's Caribbean Islands).. :roll:

There is a visual art to figuring out some watermarks and experience is one of the best tools.

Lighter fluid bothers me (in principal) and will likely only show any effects (if any) after a stamp it was used on appears on the market 40 years later. Hard to say if any of the discoloured, oxidized or changelings that show up on Stampboards are from items where lighter fluid (or Benzine) was used.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by mads1983 »

librarianc wrote: Lighter fluid bothers me (in principal) and will likely only show any effects (if any) after a stamp it was used on appears on the market 40 years later. Hard to say if any of the discoloured, oxidized or changelings that show up on Stampboards are from items where lighter fluid (or Benzine) was used.

John A
Some of my stamps that I have used benzine on to detact watermark show no signs of any effects. And that was 20 years ago. So for me I don't think there is any discolouration. Here in Denmark even the top people in the hobby uses benzine.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Paumerrek »

It depends on what country you are working with also. The most challenging ones (for me) are the US Washington Franklin stamps from the early part of the 20th century. I have used multiple methods on those. Other countries are usually much easier to detect water marks.
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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Chris55 »

mads1983 wrote:Here in Denmark even the top people in the hobby uses benzine.
Here in Germany as well - usually the "pure" benzine available only from the chemist.

I should imagine it is as good as watermark detector for a fraction of the price.

Cheers,
Chris
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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by librarianc »

Chris55 wrote:
mads1983 wrote:Here in Denmark even the top people in the hobby uses benzine.
Here in Germany as well - usually the "pure" benzine available only from the chemist.

I should imagine it is as good as watermark detector for a fraction of the price.

Cheers,
Chris
Odd thing about Benzene......here in Canada it has been banned as a carcinogen!

http://www.carexcanada.ca/en/benzene/
Benzene
Industrial Chemicals – Known Carcinogen (IARC 1)

General Information

Benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon, is a clear, usually colourless liquid with a gasoline-like odour.[2] Benzene occurs naturally as a constituent of crude oil and has been synthesized from coal since 1849 and from petroleum sources since 1941.[2] Trace amounts of benzene are produced from the incomplete combustion of organic materials.[3] Benzene may also be referred to as, benzol or coal naphtha.[4] There are numerous other synonyms and product names; see HSDB for more information.[4]

Benzene has been classified by IARC as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans.[2,6] A recent review of Group 1 agents by IARC reaffirmed this classification, citing sufficient evidence for human carcinogenicity for acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia, and limited evidence of carcinogenicity in acute lymphocytic leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[6] Benzene is considered a 'non-threshold toxicant,' where adverse effects may occur at any level of exposure.[3]

Although the hematopoietic system is the main target for benzene toxicity, the immune, lymph and nervous systems are also adversely affected.[7] Short-term exposure can cause drowsiness, headaches, and unconsciousness. The effects of long-term exposure include anaemia, neuropathies, and memory loss.[7] Benzene is also a skin irritant.[7]
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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by europhil »

Benzene and benzine are different animals.

BenzEne (C6H6) is carcinogenic and flammable.

BenzIne (aka petroleum ether) is highly flammable but not known
to be carcinogenic. (Beware of false cognates in other languages -
benzin often means gasoline, which is carcinogenic).

Interestingly, I looked at my bottle of G&K watermark fluid expecting
to find a list of ingredients. No such luck. The only hints were "Now
Benzene Free" and "Contains Heptane". Heptane (C7H16) is used in
gasoline to increase octane rating and is itself highly flammable.


Full disclosure: I won my high school's Chemistry Prize, but never studied chemistry
in college nor did I ever use it in my career. I don't remember very much any
more. Perhaps a professional chemist would care to comment.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by mads1983 »

I just checked my bottle and it says it's Naphta from raw olie, with less than 0,1% benzene.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Chris55 »

The medicinal benzine (a.k.a wundbenzin, petrolether) here seems to be a highly purified mixture of n-, i- und cyclo-aliphates mostly in the C5-C6 area.

It is basically naphtha that's been treated with hydrocarbons and typically contains about 70% n-pentane, less than 5% n-hexane and less than 0,1% benzene (lower than the level needed to carry a cancer warning). It is apparently purer than lighter fluid and contains no additives which might harm a stamp.

Of course you wouldn't want to drink it or sniff it but using normal precautions I dont think it would be any more harmful to the health as more expensive watermark detector fluid. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find out the chemical constituents of the latter :(

BTW how did Canada manage to "ban" benzene - does no one smoke or drive cars there anymore ? :D
People can be exposed to benzene in the environment from gasoline fumes, automobile exhaust, emissions from some factories, and waste water from certain industries. Benzene is commonly found in air in both urban and rural areas, but the levels are usually very low. Exposures can be higher for people in enclosed spaces with unventilated fumes from gasoline, glues, solvents, paints, and art supplies. Areas of heavy traffic, gas stations, and areas near industrial sources may also have higher air levels.

Cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke are important sources of exposure to benzene. Cigarette smoke accounts for about half of the US national exposure to benzene. Benzene levels in rooms containing tobacco smoke can be many times higher than normal.

People can also be exposed to benzene in contaminated drinking water and some foods (although the levels are usually very low).
(Source: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/intheworkplace/benzene)

No I am not a chemist but was just interested to find out what exactly I have been using to detect watermarks.

Cheers,
Chris
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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Norbert Jenkins »

Finchley Chris wrote:
Norbert Jenkins wrote:
Watermark fluid is what almost every dealer I know uses - fast and accurate and does more than just show watermarks

Norbert
Where is watermark fluid (rather than lighter fuel) still sold in the U.K.? I can't find anywhere selling/stocking it (admittedly just from a Google search). The Prinz brand comes up often but no-one seems to have it in stock.
Could it have been banned? :roll:
Hi - I got my last lot (a couple of years ago) from 'ajhstamps'. However, I've just checked their website and they no longer sell it (although they do sell the empty dropper bottle still). Sorry I can't help more at the moment...

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by DJM »

Norbert Jenkins wrote:
Finchley Chris wrote:
Norbert Jenkins wrote:
Watermark fluid is what almost every dealer I know uses - fast and accurate and does more than just show watermarks

Norbert
Where is watermark fluid (rather than lighter fuel) still sold in the U.K.? I can't find anywhere selling/stocking it (admittedly just from a Google search). The Prinz brand comes up often but no-one seems to have it in stock.
Could it have been banned? :roll:
Hi - I got my last lot (a couple of years ago) from 'ajhstamps'. However, I've just checked their website and they no longer sell it (although they do sell the empty dropper bottle still). Sorry I can't help more at the moment...
I sold my last bottle of 'Prinz' watermark fluid, and they still sell it AFAIK. Only problem with it is that it evaporates if you don't use it within a short space of time.

Darrin.

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Silhat »

Hello.

I hope that my post will be relevant here, if no, just tell me and accept all my apologies.

Is there a very common type of stamps which had a difficult watermark ? Where I work we make tons and tons of hexane and heptane of very high grade quality so I wonder if I could use those products as watermark fluids detector (and of course, I would rather make a try on junk than on a 10000$ stamp (I only have the junk, so if a member would kindly give me the 10000$ stamps, he is welcome : it's for science :D ).

Even if I had collected stamps for decades, I never seriously try to detect watermarks but why not give it a try ?

All the best

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by AberdeenBill »

europhil wrote:Benzene and benzine are different animals.

BenzEne (C6H6) is carcinogenic and flammable.

BenzIne (aka petroleum ether) is highly flammable but not known
to be carcinogenic. (Beware of false cognates in other languages -
benzin often means gasoline, which is carcinogenic).

Interestingly, I looked at my bottle of G&K watermark fluid expecting
to find a list of ingredients. No such luck. The only hints were "Now
Benzene Free" and "Contains Heptane". Heptane (C7H16) is used in
gasoline to increase octane rating and is itself highly flammable.


Full disclosure: I won my high school's Chemistry Prize, but never studied chemistry
in college nor did I ever use it in my career. I don't remember very much any
more. Perhaps a professional chemist would care to comment.
Hi all,

Like Jay says... Benzene (C6H6) is now regarded as so hazardous that it is banned in chemistry research labs, let alone anywhere else.

Petroleum ether (often called "pet ether" by chemists who use it as a solvent) is a mixture of light (containing a few carbon atoms) hydrocarbon distillates that boils just above room temperature. This makes it well suited to detect watermarks, as after a few seconds, it has evaporated, thus it should be used in a well-ventilated room or even outside (porch, patio, etc.) It is highly flammable.

Confusingly, despite the name, it does not contain "ether functional groups", which contain oxygen. Petroleum (gasoline) contains somewhat heavier hydrocarbons.

Pet ether costs around £20 per litre from chemical suppliers, so the cost stated above is not completely outrageous for a "consumer product."

Thus ends the chemistry lesson.

Bill

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by taypot »

Well this board is entitled 'no question is too silly to ask' so here goes...I've been looking at the vintage philatector watermark detector and wondering if I could make one that works on the same principle, i.e coloured filters and light.

It would be handy if it could fit in my pocket and be a simple device to shine a light through and have a method of sliding coloured light filters in front of the stamp.

The stamp would need to be put into an acetate slide and slotted between the filters and the light source.

I'm wondering whether its worth the bother and if anybody else has tried making one or could give me any advice?

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by capetriangle »

icemaster

Going back to the original question. With USA you really only have two watermarks to contend with, single line "USPS" (the small one) and double line "USPS" (the big one). So placing a stamp face down on a knee of a dark pair of trousers will usually provide the answer.

Kindest regards

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by Clive »

taypot wrote:Well this board is entitled 'no question is too silly to ask' so here goes...I've been looking at the vintage philatector watermark detector and wondering if I could make one that works on the same principle, i.e coloured filters and light.

It would be handy if it could fit in my pocket and be a simple device to shine a light through and have a method of sliding coloured light filters in front of the stamp.

The stamp would need to be put into an acetate slide and slotted between the filters and the light source.

I'm wondering whether its worth the bother and if anybody else has tried making one or could give me any advice?
Apart from lighter fluid, which the OP doesn't want to use, the Philatector was the best watermark detector I've ever used. Have never understood why it went out of production.

Clive

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by taypot »

Thanks Clive for replying, that's encouraged me to have a go at making one. :)

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by capetriangle »

Clive
Apart from lighter fluid, which the OP doesn't want to use, the Philatector was the best watermark detector I've ever used. Have never understood why it went out of production.
The problem I have found with the Philatector is that it only helps you see watermarks which are visible to the naked eye anyway.

taypot

As far as making one simply put a stamp in a Hawid mount and hold up to a bright light source.

Kindest regards

Richard

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Re: What is the best watermark detector for stamps?

Post by taypot »

Thanks for the tip Richard, I've tried putting a GB KGV1 in a mount and can see a light watermark when against the light but I'm finding it harder to read than the dark watermark when the stamp is flat against a dark background. I probably need more practice. That would certainly be a quicker way to view marks if I can train my eye better and very portable when I'm out and about.

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