Scanning stamps is a joy! If you want a decent image for your website or to sell on Ebay or Delcampe then you need a scanned image.
Use a camera? No, that’s way, way more difficult and you need to have high levels of skill to get the magnification, focus, steadiness and lighting right. Why would we do that when scanning is so easy? All the duff listings of stamps on Ebay are photos. The stamp makes up very little of the image so it’s difficult to see and it’s out of focus etc. etc. I don’t even look at those listings but breeze on by.
Scanning is so much easier.
I thought I’d go through the step that I use to scan stamps, with apologies to anyone who knows this or who may be smarter at this than I am.
A flatbed scanner is the obvious choice and mine is a Canon Pixma MG5250 printer/scanner combo. It’s an ordinary scanner but works well for what I want.
This is the method I use for scanning the faces of my stamps, for either website use, Ebay or Delcampe or for the database, more of which later.
- Set to copy to a USB drive (thumb stick). You can use a wired connection or wireless but I find this simple.
- Choose a small size of scanned image. I’m not sure how important this is but I go for 6×4 inches, or a larger size if I want to do a lot of stamps in one go.
- Choose a jpeg as the file type. A pdf can’t be used in an image editing program and I don’t understand TIFF files.
- Place a piece of black card over the stamp (remember the part against the glass will scan, not the bit looking up at you! Yes, it’s easy to do that wrong, believe me).
- Choose colour scan.
- Check the preview (if you have one) to make sure the stamps are far enough apart and away from the margins. This will make it much easier to crop them later. Arrange them as square as possible to the scanner as this will limit your work levelling them up later.
- Hit colour scan.
- Put your USB into your PC or Mac
- Open in your image program.
Image Editing Software
I have Adobe Photoshop Elements 15, which is about £69.99 (approx $90). It’s easily enough for me, in fact it’s way too sophisticated as I won’t ever use most of its ability. The full Photoshop program is much more costly and only appropriate for professionals or people who really know what they are doing.
Now I’m going to go through the steps I use to make a scanned stamp. I choose Open and navigate to where I keep my images (it’s really good to have a standard naming and placing system for your images).
So I start with the main scanned image which is usually of several stamps to make the overall process quicker.
This lot are reasonable square to the edges which does make life easier later. I’m going to choose the top stamp to process.
Next I use cmd + (on a mac) to zoom in to the stamp that I want. This gives me a nice big image so I can clearly see what’s going on.
Then I crop the image as close to the edge of the perforations as I can whilst still leaving a small black margin to allow the stamp to present well. This shows me clearly whether the stamp is square in the frame.
If not I use the Image-Rotate-Custom command to rotate the image 0.5 degrees left or right. I rarely find it necessary to rotate it more than one degree if I’ve arranged them as square as I can on the bed of the scanner.
If I’m doing it for a website I then use Enhance-Auto Smart Fix to make the colours pop and correct any minor faults. I don’t do this if I’m selling the stamp as I want it to be as honest as possible on Ebay or Delcampe.
Then I resize the image and I’ve found that 800×500 pixels works well. But watch if you switch to resizing a vertical stamp after a horizontal one because you will have to switch the values or you’ll get an odd result. After that I save for web to reduce the data size of the image to around 300KB. That makes them load quickly on the web. I save them as .gif files as they are mostly simple colours and patterns and this seems to work well.
So at the end of all this I have the stamp image to load to the web or wherever I want. I always keep the original scans in case I want a bigger image or more details.