When the USPS first began producing self-adhesive stamps in the late 1990s, many of the issues have a split in the backing paper. If you had a single stamp, you could bend the stamp slightly, allowing the split to open up. Thus, making it easier to remove the backing paper from the stamp and applying it to a letter. It beats digging at the corner of the stamp with your fingernail, trying to separate the paper from the stamp.

One of the difficulties I have encountered is in separating these panes of stamps into single stamps for sale to customers. As I try to separate two stamps, I start on one side and pull the stamps apart. If the stamps have die cuts in the paper between the stamps; that helps. Sometimes the die cuts are faint and that makes separating the stamps even more difficult.

My dilemma is when I get to the middle of the two stamps Iím separating. Sometimes they separate smoothly. More times than not, the split in the middle will not separate evenly and I end up with one stamp that is missing a small chunk of its backing paper. I consider that a damaged copy since the backing paper is missing and I end up using that stamp for postage.

What I started doing is separating the stamps from the one side. When I hit the middle and there is resistance in going any further, I stop and rotate the stamps 180 degrees and start separating the stamps from the other side. The separations meet in the middle and I usually end up with two stamps with complete backing paper.

It takes a second to stop and restart the separation from the other end of the pair of stamps. My spoilage rate has dropped significantly.

What do you do when separating, say, two longer strips of 5 stamps each and you cannot just turn the stamps around? I firmly grasp both sides of the row of stamps along the die cuts and try to tear the stamp apart. Sometimes my firm grasp keeps the backing paper intact. Sometimes the backing paper still wants to separate unevenly. I cannot win every battle, but I try the best I can.

Thankfully, the USPS seems to be producing stamps with die cuts between the stamps (including the backing paper), but not so much with the split within the backing paper itself. This usually allows a nice clean separation of two stamps with no problems.

If you experience difficulty in separating some self-adhesive issues with the split backing paper, maybe my suggestion will work for you. I hope this suggestion helps. Good luck!