If you have inherited an old stamp collection or have got a stamp collection that is gathering dust and you’re wondering if it’s worth anything then there are a few things you can look out for that will give you a guide to value. The value of a stamp can be determined by a variety of criteria and it’s not always what you would expect.
Age – The age of the stamp has no real bearing on its value. In fact a stamp could be as much as 150 years old and still only be worth a few pence. With stamps it is not age that matters but rarity. If the stamp was mass produced then it’s unlikely to be of any real value.
Origin – where the stamp was issued can have an impact on value. British stamps, stamps from the Commonwealth and stamps from the Far East are particularly popular at the moment and very collectable. Stamps from these areas can carry more value.
Stamp Gum – the condition of the gum material on the back of the stamp can have a bearing on price. Gum that has been removed from the stamp make it less valuable and stamps where the gum is in mint condition will help the value. Sometimes stamps which are still attached to postcards or letters are often more valuable than those which have been removed simply because less damage has been caused to the stamp by the act of removal.
Cancellation marks / post marks – these will affect the value if they are too prominent. The more that the cancellation mark or post mark defaces the stamp, the less value it will have.
Rarity – the volume of stamps that were produced in a particular design will affect price. If a stamp was produced in only small numbers and relatively few survive then these may have more value depending on how well sought after they are by collectors. Stamps with mistakes on them are also very rare and could potentially carry more value.
Condition – the general condition of the stamp will clearly have an effect on its value. Stamps which have been folded or creased, yellowed with age or have been damaged by the affects of tropicalisation will lower values. Stamps which have been hinged in stamp albums can also potentially be damaged upon removal so unhinged stamps are likely to carry more value.
Demand – understanding the demand for particular stamps will impact the price. Even rare stamps that are not particularly sought after by collectors will carry little value. Referring to stamp catalogues like the Stanley Gibbons catalogue will also help you when trying to determine the value and demand of particular stamps.
So, as you can see, there are a number of things that will need to be looked at in order to determine value. As a general rule, if you have inherited a collection from a stamp collector who has spent quite a lot of money on the collection and has lovingly looked after it, then there’s a good chance that the value of the collection may have increased over the years.
Conversely, if you have a collection where a little amount of money has been invested, then the collection is still unlikely to carry any significant monetary value, no matter how old the collection may be.
Researching the value of stamps can be a painstaking process so if you want to have your stamps appraised professionally by a stamp dealer then it makes sense to engage the services of a stamp dealer who is a member of the British Philatelic Society.
Tony Lester Auctions Ltd are long-standing members of the British Philatelic Society and we have many years experience in valuing stamp collections. Please get in touch if you need any further advice.