HOW TO QUICKLY EVALUATE A STAMP COLLECTION TO SEE IF IT IS WORTH HAVING IT APPRAISED
Opinions expressed in this article are solely mine, prompted by two factors. The first is what I should do with my stamp collection when I am no longer collecting. The second is an attempt to give some simple direction to those who visit this website and email asking how and where to go to sell a collection. Read and heed advice at your own risk. Ward2221@rogers.com
Remove all used stamps issued after 1950 to present, and carefully put in a plastic zip-loc bag[s] and give these to a church or other fundraising group. At best these are likely worth anywhere from 2 to 5 cents each if you are able to find a buyer.
Take all Canadian mint stamps from 1950 on and place them in a box on your letter writing table to use as postage. Mint stamps have face value at least and you might as well use them as that is likely the most you would get for them if you are able to find a buyer. Dealers, if interested, would likely pay 25% or less on the face value.
With the leftover stamps, go to your local public library and take out one of the volumes [ there are at least 6] of SCOTT STANDARD POSTAGE STAMP CATALOGUE – the most current issue available. Scotts list every stamp printed and gives a value for mint[never hinged – MNH] to used. There is also a Scott number for every stamp issued in the world. The volume with Canadian stamps listed would be the best to start with. You may wish to make a list of the stamps in your collection by number
i.e. # 208 mint $2.75 two stamps
Do not be overly optimistic – if Scott says a stamp is valued at $10.00, a collector may pay $4.00 when buying the same stamp from a dealer. A dealer may pay $1.00 for the same stamp if he or she doesn’t have more than 50 of these stamps already. Supply and demand is always the rule.
If your uncle, grandfather, dad, mom or whoever collected was decent enough to identify those stamps that are ‘rare’, ‘errors’, ‘extremely valuable’, set these aside and thank him or her for doing this.
If your benefactor was also decent enough to give provenance to some stamps to say why these stamps meant something to him or her, keep these in memory of that person along with the write-up. These are treasured keepsakes for the family and should be passed on until the first ‘non-thinking’ relative is insensitive enough to chuck them – hopefully after you are dead!
At this point you are probably left with a blank album or albums, some FDC’s [First Day Covers], tongs, hinges or other stamp mounting paraphernalia, weird letters or covers and bizarre philetalia. This conglomeration may well be the most dollar value part of the entire collection [ the truly valuable part of the collection is the item in Step 5 – really!]
NOW, HOW DO YOU DISPOSE OF ALL OF THIS FOR PROFIT?
[A] You have already given all the ‘used’ stuff to a charity.
[B] If step 4 was a factor, go to a dealer and face reality, or if you are a suspicious person, seek out another dealer and tell him or her you didn’t like the offers from the other dealer[s].
Note: most dealers are former stamp collectors and almost all stamp collectors are simple, honest people who collect too many stamps.
[C] In the event that you are unhappy with all the dealers – they all know one another by the way – go to a stamp club in your area and try to sell all your more valuable stamps, plus all that mysterious stuff you have identified in Step 6. Most local clubs have auctions for their members who are cautious, tight-fisted, retired-complaining-fixed-income-bidders, who are also as cagey. The club will usually take a 10% commission .The good news is you can put a reserve bid on the items [perhaps based on Scott Catalogue pricing – see Step 3]. The bad news is that you are now back to selling to the dealer you didn’t trust. 99.8%of all dealers and stamp collectors are friendly, helpful and too honest.
[D] There is an alternative to trying to sell a stamp collection, but this involves listening to a story:
I collected stamps from the time I was 6 to 13, like your uncle, grandpa, etc. Then I discovered girls and left my collection to increase in value. From time to time I purchased stamps to add to my ‘closet’ collection – the love of stamps for whatever reason, never dies – and then some 55 years later, I retired and eventually moved to Woodstock, had surplus of time, discovered my stamp collection, now almost 60 years old, and assumed it was a lost fortune.
Wishing to down-size, buy new golf clubs, and having no children or grandchildren interested in stamps, and doubly certain I had a fortune in stamps, I attended an Oxford Philatelic Society meeting with only one intention, that of selling my collection to a lucky collector.
“My happy ending” is that 5 years later, I became president of OPS – now past. Oh, and I have doubled, if not quadrupled my collection.
Moral: be careful what you wish for – or – he who tries to sell stamp collection may end up president. (this includes the present President of France who is an avid stamp collector)
In fairness, for all those who wish to sell a collection that they have inherited, some are worth a great deal ( our club inherited a very valuable collection which has benefited the club coffers very much).
Hopefully the owner of the collection, if it has a truly high value, has left some direction as to how to dispose of his or her collection – as was the case with our benefactor.
Many stamp collectors, like myself, have over-valued our collections trying to impress our spouse that our purchases are and were very good investments.
Our exaggeration is fed by our passion for these little paper pieces of fantastic art.