Uninformed beginners will usually get hold of the loose corner of a stamp and pull vigorously to remove it from the envelope to which it is attached. This procedure makes the stamp 'uncollectible' or worthless.
Before removing a stamp from an envelope, a collector should take a look at the back of the envelope to see if an interesting seal or label or a stamp has been affixed and would be destroyed in the cutting process.
Next, the collector should make a detailed examination of the front. First: Check the stamp affixed to the envelope to see if it is collectible. Check if all the perforations are there and if it is not greased, heavily canceled or torn. Second: Consider the stamp with the cancellation and postmark to see if they fit into a topic or specialty. Third: Consider the entire envelope on the specialty or topical tie-in or if the date in the postmark makes the cover a first day cover.
Later, we will discuss situations where you should leave the stamp on the envelope, but for now, we will assume that you are handling modern stamp off everyday mail of no particular significance.
To remove the stamp from an envelope, cut around the stamp taking care not to cut into the perforations (teeth of the stamp). Allow generous margins around the stamp.
Before you begin to soak your stamps, the following precautions should be taken:
One: Pick out all stamps affixed to colored paper
Two: Remove all stamps with colored cancellations.
Three: If you come across stamps on portions of air mail envelopes with the red and blue border, remove this, as it can run and stain the stamps.
Four: Remove any stamp printed with any shade of purple ink.
The above stamps should be considered "high risk' and should be soaked separately.
All other stamps may be soaked with little or no risk of damage