I recently came upon a stamp collection that was given to me by a family member.
I thought, could potentially be holding a gold mine?.
The stamps were stored in envelopes in a huge ziplock bag.
Sifting through the envelopes of unorganized stamp rubble, I came across stamps of international origin, spanning all around the world.
After looking up stamps with words like Deutsches Reich (German), and Norge (Finland), I came to realize that all the stamps were from the time period spanning the 1920’s through the 1930’s.
About half of the stamps had a small tab on the backing and were stuck together from one another from the glue that has dissolved over a long period of time sitting together.
How to tackle this
I wanted to make the analysis easier by putting them in organized page sleeves.
I started off with only the international stamps, placing them in order by face value and country while ignoring the actual date of issue.
I periodically looked up individual stamps for their values. Most of them indicated values of about 10 cents in non-mint condition.
After a grueling 2-day task, the process sucked.
I felt like I was cleaning up someone’s mess.
It was time to take action and see what they were really worth.
I put the pages in a 3 ring binder and took it to the local stamp dealer.
The dealer was about 60 years old with a messy shop filled with stamp albums. I handed him the book and asked him what the approximate value was. Amazingly, he quickly began to identify the time period and countries of the collection. He flipped through the pages of the binder that took me 2 days to build in about 20 seconds.
Waiting his response, hoping for a several hundred-dollar offer, he said they are worthless.
The fact that they are all common, used, and had tabs on the back from a previous album meant that nobody wants them even though the Internet might say 10 cents to 1 dollar each.
How could I tell if what he was saying was the truth?
The fact he didn’t even make an offer for them. I asked him what would a valuable stamp look like? Flipping through one of his stamp albums, he pointed at one that was well preserved in a mini sleeve and said that one worth about $10 dollars.
According to him, they also have to be prior to the 1920’s as well.
The next day I came back with the US stamps in the envelopes. He flipped through those and set them aside and told me the only thing of value is the envelopes that have a stamp on them. They went for $2 apiece.
After agreeing to the sale, he told me a woman came in earlier with a very large album with thousands of stamps from the 1850’s to the 1930’s all well-preserved condition. That collection was worth about $3000.
So what’s the verdict on stamps?
Stamps are pretty much a form of currency, mostly only valuable in the postal realm.
You can’t go into a restaurant and pay for your dinner with a handful of stamps.
The hobby of collecting stamps is called philately. Only rare stamps hold significant value. Rare stamps may include misprints or a small number printed by date and country of issue.
Investors who buy the high dollar stamps usually attain them at auctions.
Simply collecting them in your spare time is up to you, but investing in them is a waste of time unless you are rich and want to buy the rare ones.
The chances of finding an Inverted Jenny in a collection given to you are very slim.
Is selling stamps worth the effort?
In my case it wasn’t.
I spent two days sorting them and got $25 dollars for it. If you inherit a “good” collection, they probably won’t be stuffed in envelopes and should be well preserved.
If you are a collector, you will know what has value and what doesn’t.