Some collectors may not be aware of this. And it also explains why there arenít many used self-adhesive stamps available from dealers.
Years ago, some dealers soaked stamps when the gum was water activated. Just like a collector, the dealer would take a bowl of water, add stamps, let them soak a while, remove the paper, dry the stamps, and add them to their stock. That was when soaking was easy to do. Many times, the dealer would have friends or family members do this for them.
I donít believe there are any dealers who are routinely soaking stamps today. Or more correctly: removing self-adhesive stamps from paper.
Many stamps today do not soak off of paper with water. It takes a special chemical to remove them from paper. Even when the stamp is removed, many times you need to remove the layer (or film) of gum which is still on the stamp.
Water was free and soaking stamps was easy. Now you need chemicals (added cost) and it takes more work to remove the stamps from paper (added labor). Because used stamps sell for well less than $1 is most cases, the dealer would lose money if they took the time to remove todayís self-adhesive stamps from paper.
Coupled with the fact that fewer people use commemorative stamps, thatís why you donít find very many used copies of modern stamps available.
Where do used, off paper stamps come from? For the most part, collectors.
A collector may remove the stamps from paper and add them to their collection. Because itís so labor intensive to remove these self-adhesive stamps from paper, I doubt many collectors are removing stamps in quantity any more. Theyíll remove a copy for their own collection. And they may remove a few additional copies for trading.
Years ago, collectors could put large quantities of stamps in a big bowl of water and soak and dry them. They could sell those stamps to dealers who make packets or sell them to wholesalers. It wasnít a lot of money, but if you had spare time on your hands, you could make a couple of bucks. Because it takes so long to remove the self-adhesive stamps, I think many collectors have reached the point too where it doesnít pay to spend time removing stamps from paper in quantity.
Thatís why I donít offer used copies of modern stamps. It takes too much time and I would lose money. If I buy a collection that has them, I may offer the whole collection of used stamps. Because there are so few used copies available, I donít list them individually because I would be constantly out of stock after I sell the one or two copies I have on hand. The bottom line, itís just not profitable for me to carry used self-adhesive stamps. I believe that holds true for many stamp dealers.
Sorry to those of you who like to collect used stamps. I hope this gives all collectors a better perspective on the situation.