Question: A long time ago somebody told me that the only way to save canceled stamps for future value is on their original envelopes. Is this true? Should stamps ever be soaked off their envelopes?--M.A.
Answer: To be safe, leave a stamp on its envelope until you are sure you won't reduce its value by removing it. Any stamp dealer or knowledgeable philatelist can give you an opinion if you show a particular stamp on its cover, but remember: Once a stamp is soaked off, it may be difficult to replace on its original envelope so that it looks as though it was never tampered with.
A general rule is that modern stamps from any country that you get on your everyday mail are safe to soak off. Old stamps, high denominations and stamps with unusual cancels are often worth more on their envelopes than they are as separate used copies (off cover).
Q: A family member has recently died. He had an extensive, specialized and valuable stamp collection. To whom should the family turn for an honest and expert evaluation of these stamps? We want to sell them as soon as possible and fear "being taken."--Unsigned
A: Most established stamp dealers are honest. They will pay about half their selling prices for stamps that they buy. But this is a rough rule, and stamps that are popular and easy to sell will usually bring a better price than 50% of retail.
Start by visiting dealers listed under "Stamps for Collectors" in the telephone Yellow Pages. Get more than one appraisal. Ask the Better Business Bureau if the company is reliable. Ask the dealer for business references.
Q: My light-blue U.S. stamp portrays an eagle and has the words "United States Registry, 10 cents." Can you comment on its value?--R.K.
A: Current catalogue prices are $75 mint, $4.50 canceled. The centering of the design on this stamp varies a lot, with well-centered clean copies worth a premium.
Q: My stamps from Jordan show handsome birds in three denominations and the notation "Air Mail." Can you evaluate?--R.D.S.
A: Issued in the winter of 1964, this set currently is listed at $40 mint, $17.10 canceled.
Q: My set of 14 Canadian stamps illustrates the coats of arms and flowers of the Canadian provinces. What are these worth and when were they issued?--P.G.
A: Current catalogue values are $4.90 mint and $2.20 canceled. These were issued at various times from 1964 through 1966.
Q: It has been about two years since I started collecting the current issues of Canada in blocks-of-four. Although I only collect these stamps for enjoyment, not as investments, I would like to see my Canadian stamps go up in value in the future. Are current Canadian blocks-of-four likely to increase in value within the next decade or so?--R.K.
A: No. Current Canadian stamps are sold in quantities sufficient to satisfy collectors around the world who wish to buy them.
If you can get mint inscription blocks, with the Canadian government printer's inscription in the margin, these may have a better potential for future price appreciation. But I don't guarantee it, and neither would any reputable stamp dealer.
At any rate, collecting blocks-of-four will multiply your cash outlay by four, and thereby increase the amount of money that is tied up in these stamps. I advise collecting stamps for fun and hope for a possible profit.
Q: I have some 1-cent and 4-cent U.S. stamps. Also scores of animal, flower, tree and fish stamps, mostly printed in Asia and Europe. My U.S. stamps are 40 years old. Do you know who would be interested in buying them?--P.M.P.
A: Look under "Stamps for Collectors" in the telephone book Yellow Pages for the nearest stamp dealer. But from your description it sounds like your stamps are common and not valuable.
Q: My set of three Korean air mails shows a four-motor propeller airplane flying over a globe and "Korea Postage" in English, as well as Korean writing. The colors are red, blue and green. What are they worth?--W.D.
A: Issued from 1947 to 1950, this group of stamps currently is listed in the catalogues at $7 mint, $10.25 canceled.
Q: When I was in England in 1970 I bought these stamps: a set of five values showing Prince Charles and castles, a set of five with scenes from "David Copperfield" and "Oliver Twist" and a 1-pound stamp of Queen Elizabeth. What are they worth?--R.N.
A: The set honoring the investiture of Prince Charles currently lists at $1.10 mint. Your literature set is $1.57. And the 1-pound definitive is probably the 1969 issue, priced at $7.50 mint.
Barry Krause, a member of several national stamp-collecting organizations, cannot answer mail personally but will respond to philatelic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Stamps, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.