How to Restore a Stamp
To prevent damage to the stamp the chlorine should be very lightly diluted and the stamp must be rinsed after treatment. Better to undertreat than overtreat. Damage, due to over-chorlinization will not be obvious right away but will soon show as time passes, chlorine destroys paper fibers, so be careful. Practice on a few worthless toned stamps before attempting it on anything valuable. This treatment works great for toned covers to.
Do not EVER put chlorine on any 3 cent 1861 stamp. It could change the color and create a fraudulent stamp, not to mention the risk to the stamp. There are delayed effects and if you sell it you will be selling a stamp that either is not the color it appears or will self-destruct or both. Further, do not buy a stamp that is toned with the expectation that you can fix it.
Peroxide from the drug store does remove oxidation/sulpheretting (mostly) and does reduce toning to so degree sometimes. Do not put peroxide on a lavender pink - you will end up with a much more ordinary stamp. It is doubtful that this is due to the reduction of sulpheretting but seems to be due an interaction with some other part of the formulation that is responsible for the eerie appearance of this stamp, For this reason - I would keep peroxide away from these stamps in nearly every instance.
That musty smell that you get when you open that old album is the smell of bacteria (microscopic protozoans called infusoria). So yes, you can be thrilled about inheriting grandpas old collection, but at the same time, if you do not move to protect it, it will dissapear before your eyes. It's a slow process but bacteria will eat away at the paper and gum. Most bacteria feeds off the gum and the simplest way to stop the decaying process is to soak off the gum. But for most of you this will be a drastic course of action.
If you do see that your prized stamp is indeed disentegrating, layer by layer, then formaldehyde vapors will arrest the decay. Stamps should be exposed to the vapors from this chemical, dried and then rinsed with a celluloid solution mixed with 1,000 parts of acetone. Make sure the room is well ventilated whilst doing this. The process should be repeated two or three times.
You can buy formaldehyde from Carolina Biological Supply Co., 2700 York Road, Burlington, NC, 27215. 1-800-334-5551. As for celluloid solution, maybe your local photography store can lead you in the right direction. Acetone is nail polish remover.