A division of

First Choice International Inc.

This site was last updated on Aug 18, 2005
About Us - Index

Skip to: UPDATE - What's Happening at FCI Stamp Restoration - Aug 18, 2005

before and after image of repaired stamp

High Resolution Image of repaired Wurttemberg Stamp

About Us - Index

    You are visitor number

    Since Jan 10, 2001

    UPDATE - What's Happening at FCI Stamp Restoration - AUG 18, 2005

    Please Note: Anne Marie and I have made good progress in cleaning up our backlog and although at times we may be slow in returning your emails, we are happy to report that we can once again accept new orders.

    First Please Note: We have a new email address: FCIstamps@gto.net Although the other email addresses will remain valid, I am trying to separate emails related to my stamp customers by using a new email address. The other email addresses get swamped with spam and it is not unlikely that valid messages inadvertendly get lost or deleted because of the volume of spam I receive on these accounts.

    We are back from our vacation from the north shores of Lake Superior. Some of our customers have asked that we post some pics and so we decided to do just that - if you like scenery, you may even enjoy some of these shots. Just follow this address Northern Ontario

    Anne Marie has once again started to make progress with our orders and is working hard to clean up our backlog. Please feel free to send us additional material as you have time to do so. If you would like to have help with calculating any repair costs and you have access to Microsoft Excel, we can email you our automated Excel file and all you need to do is fill in the information and it will calculate the estimated repair cost.

    Should you have any questions you need answered in the meantime you can call us on the cell phone at (519) 501-5757 but as I said, we may be in some beautiful northeren Ontario places with limited cell phone access. Just leave a message and we'll get back to you.


    Hans and Anne Marie

    Home (double click)

    Who are we?

    We are a small Canadian company dedicated to the preservation of postage stamps, covers and other paper collectibles. We have been in business since 1985 and have developed a global customer base. The company was started by Hans Sitt Sr. [as L. Armstrong Stamp Restoration Service, named after his former daughter-in-law], who, in his time, was an avid stamp collector. He, as is the case with many collectors, could not always afford to stock his albums with premium quality stamps. Yet, one would often still like to add copies of these often expensive pieces, even if somewhat flawed.

    At that time it did not seem possible to find anyone to repair and restore these items at a reasonable cost. Over time, much research was done in order to learn how to restore and preserve articles of paper. Since then, our ever growing experience has allowed us to supplement our techniques with new and improved methods and procedures. We can offer affordable quality restoration and repair work, which will help to ensure the integrity of your collection for years to come.

    Please note: We operate this business on a part time basis. My day job as maintenance manager for a multi-national food processing company requires me more often than not to work long hours during the week as well as many week-ends along with unscheduled unforeseen call-ins and therefore, depending on my schedule, it may take from several days to a few weeks for us to return an order. If work is time sensitive it will be best for you to email us so that I can estimate a completion time.

    Home (double click)

    What do we do?

    We repair/restore postage stamps, covers and other paper items in order to maintain them in the best possible condition for the enjoyment of philatelists and other collectors throughout the world. We offer a wide range of services. Much of our work relates to repairs of items with flawed or missing gum, repairing thins, torn papers, missing corners or perfs and reperforating. We also clean soiled stamps and covers and can remove or improve many stains. If necessary, we can rejoin separated perforations and repair creases. The work is not exclusive to stamps and covers but also includes any collectible papers.

    As with any repair work, there are limitations to what can be done. Unfortunately for some items, it is not possible to achive a marked improvement on their condition. Unless you give us specific instructions which would allow us to do perform whatever work we deem necessary, in order to restore such badly deteriorated items, we would return such items as received. If in doubt, we are more than happy to have you mail us any items for evaluation and we will promptly get back to you with a quotation regarding the feasability of repairs and associated costs.

    Please feel free to take a look at our Price/Services list for more detail. No matter where you are, we would like to be able to add you to our growing list of satisfied customers.

    Home (double click)

    Why do we repair/restore postage stamps and covers?

    Some stamps in Canada and the United States for example are now approaching an age of140 and 150 years, respectively. Due to their age, handling by people and storage conditions, many stamps have begun to show signs of deterioration.

    Really, there is little difference between repairing postage stamps or works of art or for that matter, any other collectibles. If it were not for the fact that many of these items were properly cared for and from time to time repaired or restored as needed, many such items would now no longer be around for us to enjoy. Surely, it would be a great loss to all if collectibles were discarded only because they were damaged or of otherwise lesser quality. With every item which meets this fate another piece of history is lost.

    If we want to keep our hobby and in many cases our investment alive, then it is necessary to stop or at least retard this aging process so that future generations may also enjoy philately.

    Home (double click)


    We intend to provide philatelists wishing to have postage stamps restored, repaired or modified, with our highest quality workmanship which is economically feasible in order to get these stamps into a (to them) acceptable and collectible condition at a reasonable cost. We strongly advise and encourage philatelists to fully disclose any restorations, repairs or modifications of which they are aware upon disposition of these stamps.

    Home (double click)

    Pricing Policy

    We charge 20% of the value based on the current Scott catalogue. The basis for these charges are either the mint or used condition of the stamp, as the case may be. We do not accept discounts due to a stamps physical condition.

    We charge this amount UP TO our Regular Price (i.e. for Regumming this would be $7.50 USD). For a complete schedule of pricing please consult our price lists which can be accessed directly from the bottom of this web site.

    For stamps valued above $100.00 USD we charge an additional 3% of the value. By doing this, we can afford to spend the additional time on an item in order to give it the attention it deserves. I suppose, one always could second-guess the work done and under large magnification come to the conclusion that something could have been done better. But as anything else, this comes down to a matter of economics. For example, it is not possible for us to spend 4 hours repairing a thin and regumming a $20.00 stamp for a price of $7.50. Hence our surcharge of 3% for stamps valued over $100.00 USD.

    Conversely, it would still be economical for a collector to have a stamp repaired which is only valued at $5.00. The repair, regumming etc. would cost only $1.00 USD. Although we do double up on charges, the total cost will never exceed 20% of the stamps catalogue value at the time it is repaired.

    An example would be as follows:
    To fill a thin (regular price $18.00 USD) and to regum ($7.50 USD) a stamp with a cataloge list price of $10.00 USD would cost the lesser of 20% of the value or the Regular Repair Price. In this example the Regular Repair Price adds up to $25.50 USD. However, due to the stamps low catalogue value, the charge will only be 20% of $10.00 USD which is $2.00 USD.
    The cost to fill a thin and to regum a stamp with a cataloge list price of $600.00 USD would be the lesser of 20% of the cataloge list price or the Regular Repair Price plus 3% of the of the calalogue price of the stamp. In this case, the cost would be $18.00 + $7.50 + $18.00 (3% of $600.00) for a total of $43.50 USD. This works out to a only a total cost of 7.25% of the value of the stamps catalogue list price.

    For pricing of repairs to covers or other paper collectibles please email us a description of the item, it's estimated value and the repairs desired. If possible, please attach a jpg scan of the item at 100 to 300 dpi. This will help us greatly in determining the cost of the repair. Depending on the work required, the minimum charge for repairs of this nature would probably start at $25 US. When items are shipped to us, it is our policy to return these items the same way as received. If stamps arrive by First Class Mail we will return them by First Class Mail, if the shipment was registered, it is returned registered - unless specified otherwise by the customer.

    Home (double click)


    For this type of work, the quality of workmanship is at best highly subjective in nature. Often, due to previous repairs by others, some flaws, in stamps sent to us for restoration, become apparent only after the work has commenced. As we believe in satisfying our customers, we fully warrant OUR work. At our discretion, we will either rework any stamp(s) which we did not repair to your satisfaction or your money will be unconditionally refunded.

    Home (double click)

    How do we repair/restore postage stamps and covers?

    We use similar techniques to repair rips and tears, thins in paper as would be applied by conservators treating any paper of value. Much care is taken to repair physical flaws to the paper or to replace gum which might be damaged or missing completely. Most of this is very delicate and time consuming work and it is not uncommon to have to repeat procedures in order to affect the proper repair. Usually, other than taking additional time, this doesn't present us with a problem as most of our processes are reversible.

    Just for example, as part of our tool inventory, we have a set of custom designed and manufactured perforation dies consisting of 44 dies of varying spacing and an accompanying set of 22 hole punches. The perforation dies are manufactured in varying sizes starting with dies for a perforation of '7' (spacing of 0.1125 inches or 2.856mm) up to a perforation '16' (spacing of 0.0492 inches or 1.250mm). Our set of dies includes all dies as referred to by the Kiusalas USA and Canada Specialist Gauges. Sizes for our punches start at .023 inches (.711mm) in diameter up to .046 inches (1.168mm) in diameter in .001 inch (.025mm) increments.

    We manufacture our own papers and water soluble adhesives. Our gum has special additives to obtain various degrees of flexibility, colour and sheen. We also modify our gum Arabic to ensure that it lays flat when applied.

    Along with the above, we do have other specialty tools so that we are able to provide you with some of the best restoration work available today.

    Home (double click)

    Ethics of stamp restoration and repair - our views v. the American Philatelic Society

    This is a topic which often comes up in conversation with collectors and dealers and it is one that we also have strong feelings about, although it may be easy to guess which side of the discussion we lean towards. Due to a difference in our views, we are no longer members of the APS. The reason being, that the APS insists that repaired, restored or altered stamps are to be identified with indelible ink. We, however, are of the opinion that we spend a great deal of time and effort to restore a stamp's appearances and are not prepared to deface these items with indelible ink unless the customer, (whose property these stamps are), so wishes. It was for this reason that we were expelled.

    We are of the opinion that there are no repairs or alterations that we or anyone else could make which would not be detectible with present day technology; in most cases without resorting to the hi-tech light, (crime), spectrometer as was purchased by the APS. Often, rather simple methods can be used to determine whether or not a stamp was restored or altered. Even commonplace scanners can go a long way in exposing the repairs. We therefore believe that indelibly marking a stamp is redundant. Besides, when using the proper tools, it is not that difficult to remove an indelible mark should someone want to do so.

    Seemingly, some people at the top of this organization have to rely on what we believe are slanderous remarks as a means of attacking our service and credibility. I especially resent the implications that our intent, (and that of our customers), is to defraud other collectors. We strongly believe that OUR CUSTOMERS ARE HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY people. In the 15 years in this business we have had no reason to believe otherwise. We encourage all philatelists and other collectors, whether or not they are our customers, to do what is legally and morally correct when they deal with restored, repaired or altered stamps and covers.

    As I have time, I am working on an information page which will provide more information regarding our position v. the view taken by the American Philatelic Society. If interested you will have to check this site from time to time for any updates regarding this and any other issues.

    Home (double click)

    Stamp Restoration Records

    Although our main interest is the restoration of stamps, covers and other paper collectibles and return them to our customers as quickly as possible, we do spend a considerable amount of time making photocopies and scanning images of all items sent to us for repair, before and after the work is done. We do this for both our own and our customers records. We will return your shipment with a black and white photocopy of the items identifying the work done which is included in the price. If required by the customer we can issue a near photographic quality colour Restoration Certificate at an additional fee of $10.00 US per page. (Depending on image sizes we can fit up to 8 items onto one 8.5" x 11" sheet). Please specify your requirements at the time of the order.

    It must be understood, that the photo copies or certificates only verify the work performed by FCI Stamp Restoration Service, (Division of First Choice International Inc.). They are not intended to verify the authenticity of stamps or covers, or the restoration, repairs or alterations performed by others. If you need an expertizing service, I am certain, that for a fee, the nice people at the APS or other accredited agencies, companies or individuals will be more than happy to assist you.

    Home (double click)

    Stamp Restoration Certificates

    (colour) Certificate of Restoration (black & white) Certificate of Restoration
    High Resolution Image of COLOUR Certificate of Restoration High Resolution Image of B&W Certificate of Restoration

    Home (double click)

    Detection of Repairs and Alterations

    There are a number of good resource books available on the subject of detecting restored, repaired, altered stamps as well as fakes and forgeries. Most of this material is available from the American Philatelic Society and some through your local stamp dealer(s).
    This is a very comprehensive subject on which volumes have been written. It takes a lot of effort to address this topic in the depth that it deserves which I believe has already been successfully done by a number of authors.
    Some of the resources available are:

    1. Scott - Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue
    2. Linn's World Stamp Almanac
    3. 'How to Detect Altered and Repaired Stamps' by Paul W. Schmid
    4. 'Out-Foxing the Fakers' by Jean-Francois Brun
    5. 'Fundamentals of Philately' by L.N. Williams
      and many others.

    There is also a recent entry in the information category which tries to explain how to do this work. The softcover manual published by Midvale Philatelic Gallery is called 'How to Regum Stamps'. The book addresses a number of valid issues but in my humble opinion many of the suggested methods of repairing and regumming stamps are seriously flawed and may do more harm than good.

    Perhaps one day I will add my own 2 cent's worth on this subject.

    Home (double click)

    Where are we located?

    Please Note: WE MOVED!!!

    First Choice International Inc.

    FCI Stamp Restoration Service

    Previous Address

    306 Guelph Street
    Kitchener, ON N2H 5X3

    Tel: (519) 579-7461 (Mobile / Voice Mail)
    Tel: (519) 579-7208 (Home / Voice Mail)
    Fax: (519) 579-0288
    E-mail: FCIstamps@gto.net

    New Address - since Feb 1, 2004

    PARIS, ON N3L 4B9

    Tel: (519) 442-3396 (Business/Home)
    Cell: (519) 501-5757 (Hans 24/7)
    E-mail: FCIstamps@gto.net

    Home (double click)

    Prices/Services lists

    The following lists provide our customers with information on services available and costs involved. Please feel free to print a copy of any of the following price/services lists. Please note: Services other than those listed may be available upon request - pricing would vary accordingly.

    IT COSTS NOTHING TO BROWSE! The only difference between the following lists is that the pricing is adjusted to reflect different currencies.

    Image of Canadian Flag Canadian Visitors and Customers

    Image of American Flag U.S. Visitors and Customers

    Image of United Nation Flag International Visitors and Customers

    Contact Us:

    We welcome any reader comments or questions regarding our service. Please call or email us at:

    FCIstamps@gto.net (Hans A. Sitt) (Anne Marie Vaillancourt) (Aug 6, 2005)

    Home (double click)

    Link to related Sites