HOW TO SELL A STAMP COLLECTION
If you want to learn how to sell a stamp collection, you’ve come to the right place. If you are a stamp collector, you most likely know what you have and what it’s worth. However, if you inherited a stamp collection, or perhaps found one at an estate sale, you’ll want to get a stamp appraisal before selling.
How To Sell A Stamp Collection The Wrong Way
There is a right way and wrong way to sell a stamp collection. Many people believe that their stamps are worth what catalogue value says, or compare their stamps to what they see online. This starts the seller on the wrong foot from the start.
Over Estimated Value
Unfortunately, the values listed in pricing catalogues are nowhere near accurate to real market values. That is to say, the catalogue values are almost always inflated over what one could expect to sell the stamp for. For example, the United States stamp, Scott #113, has a catalogue value of $100. Yet these stamps sell every day on eBay for $10.
The reason for this is that the publishers of the industry-go-to stamp catalogues are using historic data over several decades as a baseline. They also do not have a pulse on what is selling online on websites like eBay and HipStamp, nor local stamp clubs, as these marketplaces do not publicize sales data.
Furthermore, the catalogue publishers harvest their data from the major auction houses, where pricing can be skewed due to buyer and seller premiums. It should also be mentioned that the values they list are for stamps in Very Fine condition, which is not the average condition found in most stamp collections.
Most Stamps Are Worthless
Another false pretense with pricing catalogues is what is called the “minimal value”. This is the lowest value assigned throughout the entire catalogue. When looking through a 2020 Scott Stamp Catalogue, you’ll notice that you won’t find a stamp value less than $0.45. The most common stamps, which are the majority, will all have values of $0.45. This again, is a misrepresentation of market values portrayed by the catalogue publishers.
The fact is that all stamps listed at the “minimal value” are actually worth nothing. That’s right. The overwhelming majority of stamps are common and have no value whatsoever. So why does the catalogue say they are worth $0.45? According to the publisher, they must assign a “minimal value” to every stamp. Nobody in their right mind would pay $0.45 for a Scott #3222. Nobody would likely pay a single cent for it. It’s beyond common and if someone wanted this stamp, they would likely obtain it through a bulk purchase of several hundred stamps at a time for a of couple dollars.
Many sellers will apply the $0.45 value to all of their common stamps, making their valuation of their collection astronomical, when in fact it may have little to no value.
Not Considering Condition
Like with all collectibles, the condition of a stamp changes everything. If the stamp’s design is off-center. If there is an area of the paper that is thin. An ugly cancellation, a small tear, the lack of original gummed backing, and so forth; all of these “faults” will lower the stamps market value. Therefore, to gain a value closer to the listed catalogue pricing, one needs to have a stamp certified by a professional authoritative entity. Professional Stamp Experts or the Philatelic Foundation provide expertizing services that can rule out any imperfections in the stamp.
There is a lot of debate amongst collectors regarding the inflated valuations by the pricing catalogue publishers. Many collectors will use a percentage of catalogue value to gauge the market value of what they expect to pay for a stamp in average condition. For example, 10-20% of catalogue value would value a $100 stamp at $10-$20.
Being unaware of these details cause many sellers to have inflated expectations of what their stamps should sell for. Thus, they end up being disappointed, and even offended, when offers to purchase are not in the same ballpark. Many end up feeling that they are being taken advantage of. Some develop a disdain for the hobby and industry. Others end up holding onto the stamps in hopes that their value will increase in the future. However, they will likely not see a positive return due to the decline of the hobby over the past 25 years.
How To Sell A Stamp Collection The Right Way
The first step to take is to find out the true market value of your stamps. Even if it’s your own personal collection, the resale value and desirability of your stamps may have changed for better or worse throughout the years. If you are unsure, the first thing you’ll want to do is have a respectable stamp dealer appraise your collection. Try searching on the web for a “stamp dealer” in your location. If you can’t find any, you may need to work with a remote dealer by shipping your stamps to them.