If you’ve got a bunch of stamps sitting around, maybe it’s time to think about selling them. Maybe you need some extra money or just want to free up some space.
The stamp market these days seems to lean towards collectors who want unique stamps, but overall collection values seem to be going down. So, if you have a collection, now may be the time to sell before they continue to dwindle in value.
In today’s guide, let’s dive into they many ways to get the most out of your stamp collection.
Setting the Facts Straight About Value
Let’s set the record straight about something in the stamp world. If you have U.S. stamps issued after 1930 or so that haven’t been used, they’re generally worth their face value. Even though 1930 feels like ancient history, in the world of stamp collecting, it’s pretty recent.
So, what happened after 1930?
The Post Office ramped up their game. They started churning out postage stamps in massive numbers, mainly because everyone seemed to be collecting them. Even President Franklin Roosevelt loved collecting stamps. It made sense for the government to produce loads of stamps. It supported a popular hobby and made some money for the Post Office at the same time.
If your stamp collection is from 1935 onwards, it’s in the modern postage category. There are services out there that will buy these from you based on their face value. If you’re wondering how to figure out the age of the stamps, you can do the following:
- Check a stamp album. If you have one, it usually shows the issue dates.
- Look at the colors. Stamps with multiple colors likely came after 1930. Before that, stamps were typically just one color.
- Think about the stamp’s history. If you remember your grandmother frequently buying stamps, they’re probably modern.
Now, if you’re thinking of selling a collection, there’s a right and a wrong way.
Some folks assume their stamps are as valuable as the catalog price or what they see online, but that’s often not the case.
You see, those catalog values? They can be misleading. I always recommend that you check out eBay to get a true value.
Why the discrepancy? Well, those catalogs are often working off old data. They’re not really up-to-date with real-time sales on platforms like eBay or local stamp clubs. Their numbers come from major auction houses where prices can sometimes be inflated due to various premiums. Also, keep in mind, the catalogue prices are for stamps in prime condition. Most stamps in everyday collections? They don’t quite meet that high standard.
So, always remember to do your homework and set realistic expectations when you’re thinking of selling. What you will find is that most stamps aren’t worth all that much.
How to Sell Your Stamps
What are they worth? Firstly, figure out how much your stamps are worth. Before you even think about selling, you should know what price tag to put on them. A stamp dealer or appraiser can help with this, or you can do a bit of research online or check out recent sales of similar stamps on platforms such as eBay. Sadly, however, so many stamps aren’t worth all that much.
Where do you want to sell them? Next, decide where you want to sell them. Online options include eBay, apps, or even your own website, etc. If the internet is not your thing, you can go the traditional route with stamp auctions, stamp magazines, or even stamp shows. Online is super handy and reaches a wide audience, but auctions can get those serious collectors with deeper pockets interested. Later on, I will let you know where exactly you can sell your stamp collections online. When it comes to selling, choose places you trust. Whether you’re selling online or in person, go with well-known, reputable places. That way, you can ensure that the sale process goes smoothly.
Get them ready. Now, get your stamps ready for their new home. Wherever you choose to sell, make sure your stamps look their best. Clean them up, organize them nicely, and if you’re selling online, take some clear pictures. Remember to describe them well too, mentioning the stamp’s condition and what makes it special.
Condition is crucial. The condition of a stamp is a game changer. Think about it: a stamp that’s off-center, has thin paper, an unattractive mark, a tear, or is missing its original sticky back? All these imperfections drop its value. If you’re hoping to get close to the price you see online, you’ll need to get your stamp checked out.
Price them right. The next step is to price them right. Think about their condition, how rare they are, and what people might be willing to pay right now. Keep it fair – if your prices are too high, you might not find any takers. This can be said about anything. If you really want to up your game, think about getting your stamps graded or authenticated by professionals. It’s a way to show buyers that you’re legit and could also increase the worth of your collection.
Be detailed. When describing your stamps, be as clear and detailed as you can. Talk about what condition they’re in, if they’re rare, or any other cool details. And trust me, a good picture speaks a thousand words. Investing in some great photos can really make your stamps pop and attract more buyers.
Stay patient. Lastly, remember that selling can be a waiting game. Stay patient and be open to chatting with potential buyers about prices and details. Flexibility can often lead to the best outcomes. This can be very true about rarer collections.
Where to Sell Your Stamp Collections
Let’s start with eBay. It’s a go-to for many when selling items, stamps included.
With eBay, you have a vast audience at your fingertips, which could lead to better prices for your collection. Just keep in mind, with so many sellers out there, you’ve got to make your listing stand out.
Oh, and don’t forget about those eBay fees – they might take a bite out of your profits. Plan on handing over at least 15% of your total sales.
- Website: eBay
Then there’s Apfelbaum, Inc. – a family-run business that’s been around since the 1910s. They really go the extra mile, even traveling to see and assess your collection in person.
Their services include free appraisals, and if they buy your collection, they offer instant cash payment. If you’re thinking long term, they even help with estate planning, assisting you in deciding how to handle your collection after you’re gone.
- Website: Apfelbaum
Based out of Canada, Century Stamps deals in an array of items, including stamps, coins, and even jewelry. This enterprise has been making waves since the 1940s. If you’re in or around Toronto and decide to swing by their office, you’re in for a treat. They can assess your old stamps on the spot and, if everything aligns, finalize the deal right then and there.
They’ve gone digital, too. If you’re not in the mood for an office visit, they’re open to discussing certain items over a call. Plus, initiating the sale process for your collectibles is just a website submission form away.
- Website: Century Stamps
Sandafayre is all about stamps, boasting over 40+ years in the business. They stand tall as one of the leading lights among philatelic auctioneers and specialist dealers worldwide.
One thing’s for sure: Sandafayre knows how to make your stamps shine. With expertise in detailing and showcasing stamps, they ensure your collection attracts attention from their international clientele.
When selling through Sandafayre, you’ve got two options:
- Outright Sale: After getting a quote from them, if it’s a green light from your end, you pocket cash instantly.
- Auction Sale: Get your stamps in the limelight during Sandafayre’s quarterly public auctions in the UK.
The outright sale is your quick-cash route. The auction, however, can connect your stamps with a global audience, potentially fetching higher returns. If you opt for the auction path, remember, they’ll charge a commission based on the auction’s final price. The straightforward sale? No extra fees.
If you’re feeling curious about what Sandafayre might offer, simply send over a few snaps of your collection, along with your name and location. They’ll answer back with their take and guide you on the next steps to get paid.
- Website: Sandafayre
Sotheby’s is a well-known American entity with British roots that’s not just about art and jewelry but also about collectibles, including stamps. Given its global reach, with experts scattered across 40 countries, it’s often seen as one of the top dogs in the realm of art and rare finds.
If you’re aiming for a high-end sale, Sotheby’s might be your spot.
You’ll start by detailing your stamps, from their history to their present condition, and of course, their specifics like size. Snap some clear photos of them. Once done, forward all this info to Sotheby’s. Their team will look over what you’ve shared, and if they think it’s a good fit, they’ll send an estimate your way. Then, you can decide if you want to place your stamps in one of their many annual auctions. And while the estimate isn’t a promise of the exact sale price, more often than not, they hit the mark or even surpass it.
As one of the top auction houses, they’re well-versed in selling collectible stamps. They offer expertise at every step and can connect your stamps with a broad network of potential buyers. Partnering with Sotheby’s ensures your stamps get the VIP treatment.
- Website: Sotheby’s
Warwick & Warwick
Another name in the game is Warwick & Warwick. They’ve been around since 1958 and are no strangers to the world of collectibles. These folks are pretty sharp when it comes to the world of stamps, with the term “philatelic valuations” being their jam.
With a century of combined knowledge among their four stamp gurus, they’ve built quite the reputation for providing reliable and thoroughly researched valuations. If you’re teetering on the edge of whether to sell your collection, hand it down, or explore other avenues, they can guide you.
Their advice won’t cost you a dime, and there’s zero pressure to sell. Just drop them a call or an email, share details about your collection, and let the magic happen.
- Website: Warwick & Warwick
Mystic Stamp Company
Mystic Stamps, with roots going back to 1923, is undoubtedly a big name in the stamp-buying universe in the United States. Over the recent 5 years, they’ve invested a staggering $70+ million in buying stamps, showcasing their prominent market presence.
One of the benefits of connecting with Mystic Stamps when offloading your old stamp collection is their expert valuation. Once they make an offer and you’re on board, the payment hits your account pronto.
If you’re puzzled about a stamp’s origin or value, don’t worry. For just a few dollars, their service identifies any stamp. Just shoot them a clear image of your stamp via their online form, and within a few working days, they’ll offer their insights. Especially if you’re dealing with rare stamps and seeking a starting point, this is a handy service.
- Website: Mystic Stamp Company
West Coast Stamp Company
For those with stamps from all corners of the world, regardless of collection size, West Coast Stamp Company is a must-consider. Over three decades, they claim to have invested over $100 million in stamp collections, which surely places them among the big buyers.
They’re also quite generous with free valuations, keeping you informed on both the retail and wholesale sides of things. And if the thought of shipping your collection worries you, rest easy. They’ve got your postage covered, insurance and all. If your collection has a hefty value tag, they might even send someone over to pick it up.
The best part is if you decide to sell to them, they’re swift with payments, usually wiring your money the same day.
- Website: West Coast Stamp Company
The thing about Facebook Marketplace is that it prioritizes local listings, which means you’re typically working with buyers in your vicinity and likely finalizing deals face-to-face, cash in hand. This localized approach might pose a challenge if you’re in a less populated area and seeking specific stamp enthusiasts, however. But, if city life surrounds you, there’s potential! And the best part is that there are no fees for listings or sales. The catch, however, is that negotiation and sale logistics rest squarely on your shoulders.
Facebook Marketplace is great for selling anything, but you may not have as much luck here as with most options mentioned.
- Website: Facebook Marketplace
Mercari is an online selling platform where you can offload a range of items, from stamps to unique collectibles. While stamps might not be the hottest item on the block, you’ll still see listings for them, and many people in the U.S. swear by the app.
Putting up your stamps for sale is a breeze: snap some pictures, craft a catchy title and description, and set your asking price. Buyers can then drop you a message, either to ask questions or buy outright. A solid tip when selling on Mercari is to offer free shipping—it might just be the nudge a potential buyer needs.
Price setting can be a bit of a puzzle, though. If you’re scratching your head over the value of your stamps, some renowned platforms like The West Coast Stamp Company or Warwicks & Warwicks might help with a free valuation. Once your buyer gives your stamps a thumbs-up upon arrival, Mercari processes your payment.
Mercari does take a cut, which is about 10% of the sale fee plus a 2.9% payment processing fee.
- Website: Mercari
From what I’ve researched, many dealers are also collectors looking for a good deal. They won’t typically broadcast this, so stay sharp. Trustworthy dealers will let you know the real worth of your collection and might suggest if selling individually or as a set is best. If they’re really impressed, they might even make an offer on the spot. Just remember, if you’re only after an assessment of your collection’s value, they might charge a fee, especially if they’re not given the first chance to purchase.
All over the United States, there are stamp fairs. These are vibrant spots where stamp enthusiasts converge. Here, you’ll find dealers, seasoned collectors, and even beginners. If you’re thinking of selling at one of these fairs, tread carefully, as it’s quite a mixed crowd. Since there are so many, it’s often best to search for stamp shows/fairs, etc and see what’s nearby in your area.
Philatelic Traders Society (PTS)
If you want your collection to end up with a true stamp enthusiast, selling to a member of the Philatelic Traders’ Society might be your best bet. The society can point you to local dealers and collectors ready to make an offer. However, everyone has their own purchase preferences, so getting multiple quotes might be wise. The added benefit? If your sale hits a snag, the society has your back. They ask members to stick to ethical guidelines, although it’s not exactly a legal contract
Have you ever checked out “Stamp Magazine“? It’s a solid resource you can find almost anywhere magazines are sold. Inside, there’s a classified section connecting you to dealers and collectors offering valuation services. It’s worth reaching out to a couple, understanding their rates, and any conditions they might have, like getting the first shot at buying your collection.
If you’re looking to get rid of your stamps and make some cash, you can see that there are a ton of options. It’s up to you to do the research and then find out what works for you. Just remember that most stamps aren’t worth all that much.
That’s going to do it for now.
As always, if you want to add to this list or you want to chime in with your recommendations, feel free to do so below.
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