I reviewed a local collection recently. It gave me pause for two reasons.

First of all, the collector told me who he bought his stamps from many years ago. This Pittsburgh area dealer is now deceased. However, it was well known that he doctored some of his material. Stamps were sometimes regummed, reperforated, and so forth. Of course, his material never mentioned any of those traits. He sold his material as original shape.

I looked at the Graf Zeppelin set he had (Scott #C13-15). In my opinion, they were regummed. Using my 30x magnifier, I spotted traces of gum inside the perforation holes which is dead giveaway for a regummed stamp. He pulled a 5x jewelers loupe out of his pocket and looked at the stamps. He said they were not regummed. I told him that the only way I would buy the set is if it had a certificate of authenticity. Sorry, I just do not accept the opinion of any random person, especially the person who is the seller who looks to benefit financially from this deal. If I buy them as original gum, submit them for certificates, and they come back as regummed as I suspect they are, I am the one left holding the bag. No thank you.

The second thing was that his collection was almost all mint stamps. He had some early material, but nothing before Scott #367. To protect his material from moisture though, he put a pinch of corn starch inside of each glassine envelope and then put the stamp inside. He used a note card in the envelope to keep the envelope stiff (no damage to the stamp from bends/creases). The Scott number was written on the note card.

He declared that the cornstarch will wipe off his MNH stamps, no problem. That is true. Before these stamps are sold, the powdery cornstarch will have to be removed. That takes time to wipe them with a dry, clean cloth. And there is the chance that you crease a stamp if you are not careful while wiping them off. It can be done, but it takes time. Time is money though.

I understand he is trying to protect his stamps. But in my opinion, he damaged them.

The cornstarch left small spots of dull gum on the stamps. It is not a major problem. However, collectors seeking MNH stamps are not going to believe that these are MNH copies when they see tiny dull gum spots here and there. Collectors are going to view these as either lightly hinged copies or minor gum disturbances. Either way, they are not going to pay top dollar for these stamps.

I made him a fair offer. However, I am almost certain he will not accept it. He has too much money into the stamps. I know what he is going to do with them though. Bear with me a minute.

To put it mildly, he is a hoarder. His daughter was there when I reviewed the collection and she called it “organized hoarding.”

He buys items at estate sales. He also buys abandoned storage lockers. He has a ton of stuff, literally. He took me to his two-car garage where he had over 1000 boxes of sorted material. He showed me one box with 250 watches in it. Another box had Catholic religious items in it.

He said that he briefly dealt in stamps many years ago. However, the only one he could sell stamps to was a stamp collector. Then he saw flea markets. He decided that he can sell junk to just about anyone. He went full force into buying items and taking them to flea markets to sell. In addition to flea markets, he discovered eBay along the way. He has sold a lot of material on eBay too.

Back to the stamps though.

His stamp collection will almost certainly end up on eBay as MNH copies. I have no idea if people buying them will accept them as MNH or not. Complaints and returns are his problem to deal with.

Never put anything in with your stamps, ever. He had good intentions with the cornstarch. But in my opinion, it slightly damaged the stamps. Acetate mounts, of which there are several brands available today, are the way to go. Do not put your stamps near scotch tape, near a sticky photo album, near corn starch, or near any other substance.