Stamp Collecting Supplies

Jan 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: stamp collecting

Below are given information and prices of basic stamp collecting supply items (watermark detectors, albums, catalogs, tongs, etc.) that a collector must possess in order to enjoy the hobby. Download helpful hints, reviews, test reports and operating manuals of the most advanced optic-electric watermark detector – Signoscope T1.

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Watermark Detectors

Optical watermark detector does not use any chemicals and is the best option if you are worried about using watermark fluids. Some fugitive inks will dissolve, stain, smear, run, etc. when watermark fluid is used on them. Some collectors report damage of expensive stamps e.g. Bahamas 329 or similar due to ink running and staining the white background of the stamp. Optical electric watermark detectors can detect all GB/US issues and provide safe, clean, and effective watermark detection without the use of volatile chemicals and also helps detect minor stamp damage such as tears, thins and repairs.

Signoscope T1

Signoscope T1 is the most advanced model made by SAFE. This is an optical watermark detector which refracts light from a 7.5 volt bulb through a perspex block to show the differences in paper thickness. Unit will also highlight paper thins and repairs. This model is best for high volumes of stamps and for more difficult watermarks as it has a higher power and adjustable light source. Max viewing area is 50mm x 50mm. Comes with a power adapter for the 220V or 115V, can also run on 5 AA batteries. Unit size 200x90x140mm.

1. Uses a position lever (handle) for adjusting pressure
2. 7.5 Volt light output
3. Contrast adjuster and On-off light switch

Typical retail price: $550. These can be found for $200 or less on eBay marketplace.

Check current Signoscope T1 prices online offered by various sellers.

Helpful hints and Signoscope T1 operating instructions (manual) can be found here.

Read test report “SAFE Signoscope T1 Review” by German DBZ 20/1984

Read test report “Signoscope Watermark Detector” by the Germany Philatelic Society Inc.

Test report “Signoscope the First Optic-electric Watermark Detector” by the Stamping Grounds.

Read test report “Nonchemical Watermark Detector on Market” by the Linn’s Stamps News.

Read about “Vinyl Spacers for Enhancing Watermark Detection” for Signoscope.

 

Signoscope T2

Signoscope T2 is a portable model made by SAFE. This is an optical watermark detector which refracts light from a 3 volt bulb through a perspex block to show the differences in paper thickness. Unit will also highlight paper thins and repairs. Max viewing area is 50mm x 50mm suitable for viewing loose stamps. Comes with a power adapter for the 220V or 115V, can also run on 2 AA batteries. Size 130x70x185mm.

1. Uses a wing nut on bottom of unit for adjusting pressure (not as good as using level on T1)
2. 3.0 Volt light output (not as bright as T1)
3. No contrast adjuster
4. Push button switch (to be held down while viewing stamp)

Typical retail price: $200. These can be found for $70 or less on eBay marketplace.
Check current Signoscope T2 prices online offered by various sellers

 

Stanley Gibbons Detectamark

This is an optical watermark detector which refracts light through a perspex block to show the differences in paper thickness. This unit is based on the SAFE Signoscope T2 design. It is constructed from a robust metal alloy. Unit will also highlight paper thins, tears and repairs. Suitable for loose stamps only with a viewing area of 50 x 50mm. Requires 2 x AA batteries or optional power adapter.

Watch a video demonstration of the Detectamark

Typically priced at $150. These can be found for $100 or less on eBay. Search eBay auctions for Detectamark.

 

 

What electric-optic watermark detector should I buy?

Watermark detectors vary greatly in price, effectiveness and size so we have thought you may need some advice when purchasing one.

I had an interesting opportunity to compare T1 and T2 Signoscope models against Stanley Gibbons Detectamark (Click on photo to enlarge). The Signoscope T1 model wins hands down in this category. If you travel a lot, the T2 model might be a good compromise. It is very compact and lightweight, yet still very effective. It is also least expensive of all three models. The Detectamark certainly has a fine reputation for reliability and effectiveness. It appears to be well built but heavier and larger than Signoscope T2.
Find the best prices on new and used Signoscope watermark detectors

 

Lindner Stampscope

The Lindner Stampscope (Model 9111), reveals watermarks, damage, repair and thin spots on stamps. According to manufacturer, handling of this device is practical and easy. Light falling through the top of the viewing area will show a light watermark on a dark background. Light falling through the open end nearest the viewing area will expose a dark watermark on a light background. No batteries or electricity is used. The box containing the Stampscope contains the special foil and operating instructions.

Typically priced at $125. These can be found for $85 or less on eBay. Search eBay auctions for Stampscope.

 

Morley Bright

Morley-Bright Watermark Detectors work on a process which involves the watermark appearing against a background on an ink sachet. The system uses the fractional difference in paper thickness between the watermarked areas of the stamp and the remaining area. This shows in relief when the ink in the sealed sachet is dispersed by pressure leaving the “tell tale” watermark traces. The INSTA-TECTOR is the most straightforward to use. The stamp is placed between an ink sachet and a piece of glass in the hand held unit. The watermark is revealed when thumb pressure is applied to the edges of the unit. The watermark image is dispersed when thumb pressure is released. For beter definition or a longer lasting image the ROLL-A-TECTOR is required. In this case a roller(instead of thumbs) is used to apply pressure. The resulting watermark image will remain until another stamp is inserted.

Typically priced at $40. These can be found for $25 or less on eBay. Search eBay auctions for Morley-Bright.

 

Stamp Albums

Lighthouse Vario system – “Collect what you want the way you want”

One of the best solution for a stamp collector I’ve found is to be able to expand and rearrange his/her albums with blank pages, inserts, and extra stamp album binders. In this case, for a fraction of the price you can have a nice album customized to your specific needs.

The Lighthouse Vario system consists of both 3 and 4 ring binders and matching slipcases with different types of plastic sleeves and stock sheets. There are double-sided black (VARIO S) and one-sided (VARIO C) sheets of crystal-clear pockets in varying dimensions. The nice thing about the Vario pages is that they can be rearranged and reused as needed. The slipcases keeps the dust and moisture right out.

Typically, binder & slipcase sets are priced at $40-$50. These can be found for $30 or less on Amazon.com. Search Amazon stores for Lighthouse supplies.

 

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6 Comments to “Stamp Collecting Supplies”

  1. Robert Taylor says:

    Many thanks. Excellent concise information regarding watermark detectors.

    Thank you.

    Robert

  2. Audrius Brazdeikis says:

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

  3. Rodolfo Franco says:

    Dear Friend
    I Bought a signoscope T2, And I need the instructions to use it, do you have this sheet

  4. Audrius says:

    Dear Rodolfo,

    Unfortunately, I don’t have manual for Signoscope T2 watermark detector. However, both T1 and T2 are very similar in their operation. T1 uses a lever (handle) to apply the pressure, while T2 uses a thumb screw knob to apply the pressure. Everything else is the same. Insert stamp gum side up between glass and metal place, apply pressure, press button to illuminate watermark. You can found manual for T1 here

    Good luck with your stamp collecting.

  5. Niels says:

    Thank you for publishing this article, very little information is found on the internet so thank you!

    Only question I have is the effictiveness of the different types.
    Can you tell me if one is clearly better?

    Don`t know if you know German stamps from the early period, but it can be a real disaster trying to reveal the watermarks so I want to be as sure as I can be before buying a watermark detector.

    My apologies for my bad English, it`s not my main language, sorry for that!
    I am hoping to see a reply from you!

    All the best,

    Niels

  6. Audrius Brazdeikis says:

    Hi Niels,

    Thanks for visiting and posting your question.

    I have limited experience with T2 model. I tried it on a few occasions in a stamp shop. The T2 is much smaller and lighter, battery operated model. Also it has a wing nut on the bottom of device for adjusting pressure. The large model, T1 is powered by 220V or 115V power adapter, larger and heavier. However, T1 model has, in my opinion, much better design for applying pressure. It uses a lever mechanism which can generate more pressure. Pressure is applied to a plexiglass brick against a vinyl insert placed on a gum side of a stamp which is placed on a metal plate. Applying enough pressure often makes all the difference between not seeing, seeing faint or seeing strong watermark. Applying high pressure is important for stamps with remnant hinges and with gum disturbances. T1 also has adjustable light intensity, which could made difference for some watermarks

    I use T1 a lot but only for Lithuanian stamps. I don’t have experience with German watermarks. If higher cost does not deter you and you don’t plan on traveling extensively to various stamp shows, buy T1. You won’t regret!

    Ebay has good deals on new/used models: http://lithuanianphilately.com/marketplace/signoscope

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