Chalk or not?

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How do you distinguish between early-1900s chalky and ordinary paper? The traditional way is to try to mark it with a piece of silver - but you don't really want to mark a stamp. Time to ask a friend.

Friend 1 said: If you hold the definitives of the 1908 Jubilee and the 1913 issues up to the light and look across the stamps, the difference can be seen very easily. The chalky has a definite glossy surface whereas the non-chalky has a flat semi-matt finish.

Friend 2 said: Look at the stamp under high magnification, eg x20. The surfaced paper will exhibit a "tide mark" of colour around the edges of inked areas. The unsurfaced paper will show a more fuzzy margin, with ink visibly soaked into the paper fibres. For fresh mint copies, you'll get a very good idea by just holding them up to the light (surfaced = more shiny). But even for soaked-off stamps, the x20 method will be as near foolproof as you will get. Get some practice with the 1908/1913 Jubilee stamps.

I donít have a x20 magnifier, but I do have a digital microscope. Setting it to about x30 and looking at the 30h and 35h 1908 issues, I see it clearly!

Chalk surfaceNon-chalk surface
Chalk surfaceNon-chalk surface

©Andy Taylor. Last updated 11 July 2012