Stamp values

Many people are shocked to find that the current market price for their philatelic items is below their expectations. Unfortunately gone are the days when it was economically viable for dealers to buy ordinary collections, break them down and then sell packets of stamps at pocket money prices. Labour costs have risen and stamp values have fallen making stamp dealing a very difficult business. Please do not be offended by an offer from a dealer as when making an offer he has to take into account the time and cost of preparing the items for resale.

The popularity of stamp collecting has declined markedly since the peak of the market in the early 1970’s. Hence the value of stamps has declined markedly too. It is likely that if you have a stamp collection from your childhood it will not have increased in value over the years. Even the penny black is now worth only around 20% of its mid-1980’s value.

The current market is swamped by common stamps such as ordinary British stamps from all eras and ordinary world stamps from ‘childhood’ collections. This means that the values are very low. Conversely, the market in specialist stamps such as rarer varieties and some types of postal history is buoyant and good prices can be achieved. There is also currently a glut of modern stamps, presentation packs, booklets and other Post Office ‘retail’ products. This means that there is difficulty in obtaining good prices for these products when you wish to sell them in the ‘secondary market’. Most modern mint stamps sell for much less than their face value.

First Day Covers have probably suffered more than any other philatelic product with values very low and some auctioneers even refusing to accept consignments. The retail price on many common examples is as low as 20p. More recent issues fare a little better and certain scarcer varieties are still sought after by specialist collectors.

Stamp catalogue values can be misleading. As a general rule the more common the stamp the less a proportion of the catalogue value it will sell for. A stamp valued at a £100 may be bought by a dealer for £10 and sold retail at £20. A stamp valued at 50p may not have any actual individual value to a dealer due to the costs and time of reselling it. Hence it can be seen that the market in low value stamps is usually as a value per album or set of albums.

Some general rules about stamp values:

  • Mint stamps with original gum on the back are worth more than used stamps
  • Earlier stamps are worth more than modern stamps
  • Stamps with any faults (creases, tears, thins, etc.) are worth far less than those in perfect condition. One thing that is common with most collectables, especially stamps, is that condition is everything.
  • Boxes of loose used stamps are usually worth very little
  • Stamp albums that are sparsely filled are usually worth very little
  • Stamp albums with spaces where stamps have been removed usually suggest that someone has previously cherry-picked the more valuable stamps
  • Stamp albums for children or beginners are usually worth very little
  • Used GB postage stamps printed in the last 70 years are worth almost nothing.
  • Complete sets of stamps especially those with the higher face values will have a value
  • Stamps that are noted to have a design error or printing fault will have a value.
  • Very old scarcer stamps such as penny blacks will have a value  
  • Interesting postal covers from around the world will have a value.
    Given all the above, selling directly to a dealer can be a time and cost efficient way of disposing of a collection. Alternatives are DIY on internet sites such as Ebay or consigning the stamps to a local auction or specialist philatelic auction. Care should be taken not to incur shipping and commission costs that are not commensurate with the value of the collection.

    If you have inherited a collection take care to leave it as it is as it is easier for a dealer or auction house to assess the value. A good collection is usually annotated giving the viewer a quick insight into the variety and types of stamps. You should not remove stamps from albums as this information is then lost.

    To find out the value of your rare, collectable stamps call:
    0345 504 5556

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