How to Determine the Watermark of a Stamp
How to determine the watermark of a stamp is an important aspect of stamp collecting is being able to identify a stamp by its catalogue number, to determine its value. Some stamps appear to be the same image, but the only differentiating factor is a different ‘watermark’. A watermark can be letters or patterns impressed into the paper used to produce certain stamps. These are found on the backsides of stamps.
To identify a stamp’s watermark, it must be submerged in Watermarking Fluid. To submerge a stamp in watermarking fluid, you will need a pair of tweezers and a small tray with a lip. Once the stamp has been placed in the fluid with the backside up, the watermark (if the stamp has one) will appear. To determine which watermark it is, referring to the beginning section of that country in the Scott’s Catalogue, it will show an image of the watermark, and what number that watermark image corresponds to.
As these are the same Scott Catalogue image number for Great Britain, a5, knowing how to determine the watermark of a stamp is the only way to differentiate these stamps. As #22 (Lot 555) and #24 (Lot 559) are both bluish paper, and #25 (Lot 562) and #26 (Lot 568) are both white paper, to correctly identify them to their catalogue numbers, the design of the watermark for each stamp needs to be determined. As there can be in some instances a very large difference in value between different watermarks, collectors want to be sure of what they are buying.
Lot 555: Great Britain 1855 #22 4p rose bluish, watermark 21 (Small Garter) has a catalogue value of $440, whereas Lot 559: Great Britain 1856 #24 4p rose bluish, watermark 22 (Large Garter) has a catalogue value of $540. As the difference in size of the Garter is the determining factor in which watermark it is, #24 has a catalogue value of $100 more for what appears to be exact same stamp.
Lot 562: Great Britain 1856 #25 4p rose white, watermark 22 has a catalogue value of $400, whereas Lot 568: Great Britain 1857 #26 4p rose white, watermark 23 has a catalogue value of $125. As the difference in size of the Garter is the determining factor in which watermark it is, #25 has a catalogue value of $275 more for what appears to be exact same stamp.