Frequently Asked Questions

I have some old used loose stamps. Are they worth a lot?

Probably not. A lot times people are disappointed when we don’t want their stamps. The biggest misconception is that “old” stamps are valuable. The U.S. issued its first billion quantity stamp 120 years ago and of course it is valueless in used condition today.

What determines the value of a stamp collection?

Rarity is a factor but demand is what really counts. There are lots of “old” and rare stamps, but nobody collects that area so the stamps don’t sell well.

I have a Hitler stamp. It must be worth a lot?

No. Sorry, but this is the most common call we get. Hitler stamps are common as dirt as he was on a majority of German stamps from 1933-1945. He actually got a royalty for appearing on German stamps. To the victor go the spoils: soldiers from all sides looted German post offices after WWII and “liberated” millions of stamps which have been floating around in cheap packets ever since.

I have an old U.S. 1¢ Washington or 1¢ Franklin stamp. It must be worth a lot?

Similar story to Hitler. These were common designs, printed in the billions and used for years. Not likely they are any good.

I went/talked to another dealer and they told me my U.S. mint stamps are not even worth face value! They must be crooks. What gives?

98% of all modern (post-WWII, 1945-date) mint U.S. stamps are common and have been printed and saved in huge quantities far outstripping collector needs. U.S. postage stamps are NOT actual currency but really nothing but prepayment for one very specific service which is mailing a letter. You might compare them to buying a gift card to your favorite store which can only be redeemed at that store. So, because there is no collector premium for these stamps, their only value is to be used on mail. The problem is: who needs to use thousands of dollars on letters? This material is bought and sold at hefty discounts from the face value as this is the only motivation to get users to put up with the extra aggravation and work of putting old stamps on mail. Our suggestion to sellers is: use it yourself if you have a modest amount and genuine need to mail things. If you have thousands of dollars (which we see all the time), dump it for what you can get, turn it into cash and be happy. This is not investment grade stuff. Stamps are subject to theft and damage and we all know that the use of mail is declining by the billions of dollars the USPS loses.

My stamps were appraised by someone else. Can you match it?

We usually match or exceed genuine offers, but still must evaluate the stamps ourselves.

How much are my 22-karat gold covers and stamps worth?

These are stamp replicas not postage stamps. Few stamp collectors want these with little resale market, so dealers don’t want them.

What percentage of catalog do you pay?

We try not to assess a straight percentage as every lot is different. High quality, better pieces can be evaluated at strong prices and common lesser. Damaged, old 19th century and dud countries might be only worth a few percent as they are hardly saleable. Rest assured we will determine the lot fairly. Please be aware that stamps have always been bought and sold at large discounts from book values, so knowing that will help you accept a price.

I no longer have the time, energy, interest or money to collect stamps. What now?

Well, collections are not like pets that require constant care and food. You could throw it on the shelf and hope your circumstances change and start it up again. However, they are subject to theft or damage. Our advice would be do yourself a favor: sell the stamps and invest the money or spend it on your current activity.

I want to donate my stamps to a museum. Good idea?

Terrible idea. OK, you might get some sort of inflated IRS write-off which might not hold up. Worse, however, is that most museums have zero knowledge or ability to display or care or share your collection with the world. Their intentions might be good, but the best thing is to be the ultimate recycler and put the stamps back into the stamp world for others to own handle and enjoy. Stamps are to be enjoyed and not locked up out of sight.

My stamps were worth more years ago. Is that right? How much can I get back?

If you have only been collecting since 1980 or paid high prices during the 1970s boom, you might not get it all back. It just depends on what you bought. If you have a decent mix you might be OK. However, unlike most hobbies (golf, fishing, travel) you can get back a portion of your expenditures.

What should I tell my heirs about my collection? I don’t want to burden them.

Nobody knows exactly when they will die or has a formal expiration date. Therefore, many collectors collect until death, often finding great comfort and enjoyment from stamps in their later years as their mobility is reduced. It might make sense to sell before death or hold if the collection is still yielding pleasure. That will have to be a personal decision. If holding, leave written instructions with the name of a reputable stamp dealer. Go over with your heirs what you have, but do not inflate the value to have justified years of spending. This will just make it more difficult to sell. Family members may want to keep the collection for financial or sentimental reasons. While some might enjoy this, most find it a burden. Stamps should be insured and are subject to theft, fire, humidity and water damage. They do not pay interest. It is far better to sell the stamps and make good use of the money. A few selected items can be still be held for sentimental purposes.

Why not sell my stamps online myself?

You will probably sell the good stuff too cheap and be left with the dregs which nobody will want. It will be a lot of work and frustration. Anything is possible but be aware of the pitfalls. Just like we have people that change our oil, fix our plumbing, paint houses, clean homes or fix teeth, stamp dealers provide a useful service, saving time and yielding financial value too. Unless you have unlimited time don’t even consider becoming a seller on eBay or similar online auction. To be successful requires intimate knowledge of what you are selling, gained from years of experience. The law expects sellers to know their merchandise. This means you must know enough to identify the stamp properly as well as faults which may not be apparent in a scan. Stamps which are offered by inexperienced people sell for sharply less because the buyers don’t have confidence that the seller knows what they are talking about. To sell a large collection wouldn’t take forever, it would just seem like forever.