17 February 2016

A "regumming factory"

(This post will be of interest only to stamp collectors)

I'd like to share some fascinating excerpts from an article published in the May 1988 issue of The Posthorn (the official journal of the Scandinavian Collectors Club).  The author, Gene Lesney, was visiting Hamburg and arranged to make a visit to a clandestine regumming workroom.
"Lined up on shelves like any kitchen spice rack were dozens of bottles of stamp gum - all labeled by country and year...

To show me the process, a technician wearing a lab coat picked up a rather clean copy of an old U.S. stamp with tongs.  It was a mint 1869 pictorial, 10c yellow Scott 116...

It had been treated first with hydrogen peroxide to refresh the slightly oxidized color before using a mild pure soap and soft bristle brush to cleanse it.

By the stamp's appearance of F-VF centering and full perfs, I would rate it worth approximately $150 to $250 on the auction market without gum.  But easily worth more than twice that amount if with full O.G. NH ! ...

Now the stamp was placed face down on a tiny rectangular plastic pallet... From an organized tray holding an assortment of thin, ruler-like strips of plastic with short perf pegs on both edges, the technician selected four pieces of perf 12 which he gently fitted on each side of the stamp.  The pegs filled in the perf grooves to prevent gum intrusion...

While the stamp was being mounted on a spindle, an apprentice mixed a solution of gum from a bottle marked "USA 1869/gewöhnlich gummi/#0023." This solution went into an air brush... five applications covered the stamp to the precise thickness desired...

It was explained that normally a  dozen or so stamps would be heat cured as a batch for better cost efficiency, however today's demonstration was special.  What was the price for this procedure?  The cost for a job just witnessed would be $6 to $10 depending on the numbers of items in the order...

The promotional mailer outlined various services; including cleaning, patching or replacing damaged papers, repairs to stamps and covers, removal of unwanted markings such as cancellations, replacing gum, and other improvements as requested... Most work cannot be detected using conventional inspection procedures."

Judging from what was seen in Hamburg, this has to be a fulltime production operation.  The supplies, equipment and personnel signify an ongoing profitable business.
This report was published in 1988.  Nowadays this stamp would catalog $750 without gum, $2000 with disturbed (previously hinged) original gum, and some multiple of that for mint never hinged status.

Image (of a comparable stamp) from The Swedish Tiger.


  1. > (This post will be of interest only to stamp collectors)

    and those that can't resist reading something that clearly states it is not for them!


    1. btw, a fascinating story, and i am not a stamp collector.

      i can imagine an appraiser on 'antiques roadshow' ending a segment with mentions of just such a service.



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