Notes from the Past

Gum

Referred to in the early history of philately as 'cement', gum is the mucilage applied to the backs of adhesive postage stamps, and has as its basis crystalline gum arabic.  The raw materials vary in colour from the finest 'water-white' to a deep orange, and these variations in colour are sometimes the only clue to the different printings of an issue which has been frequently reprinted.  A perfect mint stamp is one with all its original gum (o.g.) as issued by the post office; an old stamp with full gum is referred to as 'o.g.' -- original gum -- one to which no addition of fresh mucilage has been made.  In hot weather or under a strong light contraction of the gum can often cause mint stamps to curl.  In extreme cases considerable damage can be done in this way.  A temporary cure can be effected by breathing gently on the back of the stamp.  Many modern stamp adhesives are dextrines, or of similar character, while some U.S.A. issues had an extract of cassava root (tapioca) as an adhesive. [See Do You Like Tapioca?]
 
 
- R. J. Sutton 6th edition revised by K. W. Anthony
The Stamp Collector's Encyclopaedia
Published 1966
 Posted February 11, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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