Remove ballpoint ink from postage stamps

  • Thread starter rearrankr
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rearrankr

I am a US postagestamp collector. Occasionally a letter will miss the post office's canceling machine and the postage stamp is then "hand canceled" by another person in the sorting/delivery chain by using a ballpoint pen. I would like to find a means of removing the ballpoint mark from the stamp without damaging the appearance of the stamp itself. I've tried acetone, bleach, nailpolish remover, lighter fluid - all remove the actual face printing of the stamp.
 

Evo

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I am a US postagestamp collector. Occasionally a letter will miss the post office's canceling machine and the postage stamp is then "hand canceled" by another person in the sorting/delivery chain by using a ballpoint pen. I would like to find a means of removing the ballpoint mark from the stamp without damaging the appearance of the stamp itself. I've tried acetone, bleach, nailpolish remover, lighter fluid - all remove the actual face printing of the stamp.
Perhaps you should ask this in a philatelic forum. I've seen hand canceling done with a hand held stamper, never with a ball point pen. If the stamp has been canceled, what difference is it to you if it was by machine or by hand?
 

turbo

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If you can stand the smell, get a cheap hairspray like AquaNet. It lifts ballpoint ink better than anything else that I know of.

I learned this from a barmaid in a motel at a place that I was consulting for a pulp mill. I was complaining that I had written on my dress shirt (unintentionally) with a ball-point-pen. She told me to strip off that shirt, and when I handed it to her, she squirted the stain with AquaNet and blotted the ink with napkins. Ink Gone!
 

jtbell

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I've seen hand canceling done with a hand held stamper, never with a ball point pen.
Pen-cancelling is usually done by the mail carrier before putting it into your mailbox, when he/she finds something that escaped cancellation earlier. I understand that some mail trucks/vans also have little last-minute cancelling devices mounted on the door or frame within easy reach. The carrier simply swipes the corner of the letter (or whatever) across it, producing a few parallel lines of ink.

If the stamp has been canceled, what difference is it to you if it was by machine or by hand?
Used stamps are more desirable to a collector when they're cleanly cancelled without obscuring too much of the design. The ideal is to have part of the circle that contains the city and date, on one corner of the stamp, with the ink applied cleanly and readably without being too heavy. Less desirable are the wavy or straight "killer bars" that usually accompany the circular date-stamp. At the bottom of the list are pen-cancels and smudges from ink-daubers.
 

Danger

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Just a point of curiosity here...
I don't know much about US laws, but I'm pretty sure that here in Canada it's illegal to remove cancellation marks. The whole point of them is to prevent the stamp from being reused without payment.
 
Last edited:

Evo

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At the bottom of the list are pen-cancels and smudges from ink-daubers.
Then he's pretty much out of luck as anything that would remove ball point ink from a stamp would ruin the stamp, AFAIK.
 

rearrankr

Thank you, all of you who have responded to my quest for removing ballpoint ink from postage stamps. But to reply, yes, there is a BIG difference between collecting and saving a canceled stamp that has a clean machine cancel (matter of fact, if it's an outstanding cancel it is actually worth more) and a careless ballpoint scratch. To those who have never seen such a ballpoint marking, unfortunately it is true - at least in my small city post office. I am aware that postal employees are supposed to do that but if they'd only glance at what they are defacing (like the $4.95 and the 85 cent stamps I just found) just perhaps they would have it "stamp canceled" rather than using a pen. In this day and age, what with e-mail and stuff, it is virtually impossible to find "rare" stamps like the two described above.
 

Evo

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So, what do collectors on a stamp forum have to say about the possibility of removing ball point ink without destroying the stamp?
 

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