How to Sell Your Stamp Collection Part I

how to sell your stamp collection part 1

hi I'm Jerry here at northland company

we get hundreds of calls and emails

every week from people wanting to sell

their stamp coin and paper money

collections now today I'm just going to

talk about stamps but everyone's got the

same three questions what is my

collection worth how do I go about

selling it and how do I know I'm not

going to get ripped off these are good

questions and having been in the

business of selling and buying stamps

for over 35 years here's my answers

question number one how much are my

stamps worth well if you're the person

who built the collection you're already

ahead of the game because you have some

idea of its value but if you're

unfamiliar with stamps say you're the

executor of an estate a widow an heir or

just a friend helping out an elderly

neighbor it's going to be more difficult

because you're going to have to

communicate just what you have to a

potential buyer before he can say

whether it has value or even if he's

interested in it so let's start by

trying to define what you have stamp

collectors are usually great

accumulators and organizers and stamp

collections come in all sorts of shapes

and sizes these are some of the types of

collections we typically run across at

the top of the list you might have what

we call a major collection it could look

something like this 50 to 300 albums

would not be uncommon this would be put

together by a collector over a lifetime

there would be hundreds of thousands of

stamps here he would have bought them

from dealers and auctioneers and he

would have been able to afford scarcer

stamps as well as common stamps he might

also have been an exhibitor in

international competitions and won

awards a collection like this will have

significant value next you might have

what we call a specialized collection

this is very similar to a major

collection except that the collector was

highly focused on what he was collecting

for example he may have collected just a

single country such as this Japan


or he may have focused on advertising

covers and postal history such as those

shown here lastly he may have

concentrated on just a single stamp

books are written on just a single stamp

because of the specialized nature of

this type of collection

they usually have significant value now

we come to the type of collection that

the average collector might have such as

this one here there are tens of

thousands of stamps in this collection

and it probably took the collector on

lifetime to put it together he had a lot

of fun and there will be value here but

typically the scare sir stamps won't be

found primarily because he didn't have

the funds to invest in them next on the


children's collections we see a lot of

these usually they contain just common

stamps and often the child loses

interest in collecting after a while

collections like this have little

commercial value and we rarely buy them

back in the 1950s collecting complete

sheets of stamps was very popular every

time a stamp was issued a person would

go to the post office and buy a sheet

over time he collected a lot of sheets

they did this because they thought it

was a good investment well it really

wasn't such a good investment and today

they're probably worth less than the

person paid for them the good news

though is a lot of sheets were collected

and typically there's a lot of value

their promotional collections can take

many forms and are quite common this one

features golden replica first-day covers

the collector would buy these covers and

put them into an album such as this

they're very pretty but they have little

resale value stamp investment portfolios

were in vogue in the 1980s investors

bought these as hedges against inflation

generally speaking they did not work out

too well as an investment however the

quality of the stamps was quite high and

these still have significant value

lastly dealer stocks many collectors

aspire to become dealers perhaps when

they retire

some do some don't in the course of

their collecting career they accumulate

large amounts of stamps and covers we

once took a collection weighing 17 tons

because of the diversity of

accumulations like this they usually do

have significant value now you know what

type of collection you might have so

what is it worth it comes down to three

variables one what stamps are in the

collection are they common are they

scarce are they even genuine secondly

what's the condition of the stamps this

is especially important for scarce or

stamps and third what is the state of

the overall economy and the stamp market

in particular is it strong or is it weak

let's start with the last question first

the overall economy is very weak as we

all know but the stamp market has been

very resilient and it's good time to be

selling the stamp markets been trending

upward slowly for many years but it does

consist of many segments and they can

run hot or cold at any particular point

in time right now Asian countries are

very strong and traditionally strong

areas like Europe are weak even within

countries different segments can vary

classics might be strong air mails might

be weak ultimately the mix of stamps you

have in your collection will determine

its value and now let's turn to the

question of whether you have any scarce

or stamps keep in mind hundreds of

thousands of different stamps were

issued and billions if not trillions of

stamps were printed most of these are

very common still there are plenty of

scarce or stamps out there

here is the scarce Graf Zeppelin stamp

of the 1930s it's worth about $1,500 a

similar set issued just a few years

before is worth only ten next you see

two 50 cent stamps that look exactly the

same but they're not one has a different

perforation the stamps on the Left have

a value of $1,500 on the right just one

hundred dollars this last stamp could

actually be worth 20 cents or 150

thousand dollars

this design appears on 28 different

stamps all with different values

my suggestion is don't get too excited

if you have a stamp that looks like this

you probably don't have the rare one on

the other hand you might get lucky even

when a rare stamp is found you have to

beware of fakes and forgeries you can

probably see that these two finished

stamps are slightly different but it

takes an expert to tell the real one

it's the one on the left

all of these stamps are listed in the

Scott catalog which can be found in any

library you can check Scott values

yourself but bear in mind that these do

not reflect the prices that you can

actually sell your stamps for you can

also explore our website to see what

current prices are for thousands of

stamps worldwide lastly if you're

fortunate enough to have scarce a rare

stamps their quality and condition will

greatly affect their value centering is

a very important element in valuing

stamps these two 5 cent stamps are

exactly the same except that the one on

the left is perfectly centered it's

valued at $1,900 the one on the right

still looks pretty good but the retail

price on this is just $100 the gum on

the back of the stamp is also very

important the center stamp shows a hinge

mark when it was put into a stamp album

the one on the left has no hinge mark

and the one on the right has no gum at

all if the center stamp was worth $50

the one on the Left would be worth a

hundred and the one on the right only

$25 stamps are fragile they're made of

paper and they often have faults tears

thins creases all of which can greatly

affect value all three of these stamps

look pretty good the one on the left

actually is it has a nice cancel no

faults and it's worth about two hundred

and fifty dollars the center stamp looks

pretty good too but it has small fins

and a few short perks it's worth about

$45 the stamp at the right a major

disaster a cancel has been removed a

puncture hole has been repaired there's

been a repaired tear at the bottom it's

been regaled and

reaper on the sides and a fake grill has

been added its value zero so now you

should have a good idea of what type of

collection you have and you know some of

the variables that go into assessing

their value next step contact a

potential buyer in part two of this

series which follows I will explain the

advantages and disadvantages of using an

auctioneer or a dealer to sell your

collection I'll also provide some tips

to avoid getting ripped off if you have

any questions call me I'm Jerry