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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- Signoscope T1
- Signoscope T2
- Which model should I buy?
- Lindner Stampscope
- Morley Bright
- Lighthouse Vario system
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 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
Looking for a replacement bulb (6.3V)? These can be found here.
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.
Test report “SAFE Signoscope T1 Review” by German DBZ 20/1984.
Test report “Signoscope Watermark Detector” by the Germany Philatelic Society Inc.
Report “Signoscope the First Optic-electric Watermark Detector” by the Stamping Grounds.
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 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
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 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.
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.