Did you find an old stamp collection in your attic or basement, or perhaps do you have a collection of stamps and are curious how much they’re worth? Either way, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll teach you all the steps to how to get a stamp collection appraisal so that you can determine the exact value of the collection!
One of the most popular hobbies in the world is stamp collecting, and there are many reasons why people enjoy it. Stamp collectors often enjoy the challenge of finding rare and valuable stamps, as well as the history behind each one.
There are many different ways to collect stamps, and you can tailor your collection to your own interests. Whatever way you choose to collect stamps, you’re sure to enjoy it. And, if you’re lucky, you may even find some rare and valuable stamps along the way!
How to Prepare Your Stamp Collection for Appraisal or Sale
If you’re thinking about selling your stamp collection or getting it appraised, there are a few things you can do to prepare.
First, you’ll want to make sure that you implement proper stamp storage. This means keeping them in a dry place away from sunlight and moisture. You’ll also want to make sure that they’re stored in acid-free materials for protection.
Once your stamps are properly stored, you’ll need to create an inventory of your collection. This can be as simple as making a list of all the stamps you have and their Scott Numbers.
When these steps are done, you’ll need to gather all of your stamps and any paperwork or documentation you have on them and take them to a dealer or auction house, which we will explain in more detail throughout this article.
How Do We Get A Stamp Collection Appraised?
If you want to know the value of a stamp collection, you’ll probably want to get an appraisal, regardless of if you want to keep the collection or if you want to know the resale value.
Stamp collections can be appraised by dealers, auction houses, or appraisal experts. The appraisal process usually involves a review of the stamps in your collection, as well as an evaluation of their condition. This information is then used to determine potential values.
Here are the basic steps in determining the appraised value:
Locate Important Paperwork
In the situation where your stamp collection was inherited or discovered, you’ll first want to collect any important paperwork that might give you the value of your collection.
This would include papers such as instructions from the former owner or an insurance policy.
If you find that information, great! You already have a leg up on the appraisal process.
Find A Dealer or Auction House
Regardless of finding any paperwork, the next thing to do when you want to get a stamp collection appraised is to find a reputable dealer or auction house that specializes in stamps.
A good place to look is on the American Philatelic Society website directory in order to find an APS Dealer who is trustworthy and trained in the arena of appraising stamps. If you’re having difficulty locating an APS Dealer in your area, you can also check if there is a local stamp club. Someone there should be able to point you in the right direction with your postage stamps.
Unless you’re prepared to pay for an appraisal, be sure to tell the dealer or auction house that you aren’t looking for an official appraisal just yet.
And if there isn’t an insurance policy on the stamps, then consider looking into the process of getting your collection insured before you take it in for a professional appraisal. You just never know if something will happen to it while it’s being evaluated.
Make An Appointment and Answer Their Questions
Once you’ve found a reputable dealer or auction house, you’ll want to make an appointment so that they can take a look at your collection.
When you bring in your stamps, the dealer or auctioneer will begin by looking through the collection and getting an idea of what they’re dealing with. During this time, they may ask you questions about the collection such as how you acquired the stamps, how long you’ve been collecting, and anything else that may be relevant.
After they have a good understanding of the collection, they will then start to grade each stamp. This includes taking into account the conditions that will affect the value of the stamp.
The dealer or auctioneer will also look at the value of your collection as a whole and give you an estimate based on what they think it’s worth.
Get A Second Opinion (If You Want)
Once you’ve received an appraisal from one dealer or auction house, you’re not required to accept it.
In fact, if you’re not happy with the appraisal, you can always get a second opinion from another dealer or auction house.
While it may take more time and effort to do this, it’s worth it to make sure that you’re getting the best possible estimate for the value of your stamps.
How Does a Dealer or Auctioneer Grade Each Stamp?
When a dealer or auctioneer grades each stamp in your collection, they’re taking into account the physical condition of the stamp, any faults it may have, and its potential value.
Here are some of the things they’ll look for:
The Stamp’s Physical Condition
This includes things like whether or not the stamp is wrinkled, torn, or has any other physical damage. They will also look at a postage stamp’s color and freshness and things like gum condition and cancellation.
A cancellation mark on a stamp is an imprint, usually an ink stamp, that is applied to a postage stamp to prevent it from being used again. The appearance, type, and heaviness of the cancel will usually affect the value of the stamp.
Of course, stamps that are in mint condition will most likely be worth more than those that aren’t. The condition of the stamp will play a big role in determining its value.
The Stamp’s Faults
Faults can include anything from the stamp being off-center (called centering) to having a crease in it. Dealers and auctioneers will also take into account the stamp’s perforation as well and any issues that may exist there. The more inconsistencies a stamp has, the less valuable it will probably be.
Although, if a stamp is extremely rare or something of that nature, it may still be worth quite a bit, regardless of its inconsistencies.
The Stamp’s Potential Value
This includes things like the stamp’s Scott Number, which is a number assigned to each different design of postage stamp by the Scott Stamp and Coin Company. The Scott Number can be used to identify a stamp, and oftentimes a valuation is listed by each stamp design within the Scott catalog.
However, placing a value on a stamp isn’t as simple as looking up the stamp in the Scott stamp catalog. Appraisals are largely based on opinions that are based on facts.
Here are a couple of examples of stamp valuation:
- Fair Market Value: the best price a potential buyer will pay a willing seller, where neither feels compulsion to act
- Retail Replacement Value: what a buyer would have to pay in order to replace an item if bought today
Fair market value is always used by estate and donation appraisals, where as retail replacement value is used by insurance.
Valuable Antique Stamps Worth Collecting
Here are some of the most valuable stamps in the world:
This stamp is considered to be the rarest stamp in the world, with only one known to exist.
The British Guiana 1c Magenta was issued in 1856 and was originally discovered by a 12-year-old boy in 1873. It has since changed hands many times. In 2021, the stamp was sold at auction for a record-breaking $8.3 million.
This stamp is famous for its mistake–its image of the JN-4 airplane is printed upside-down! The Inverted Jenny Stamp was issued in 1918, only 100 copies were printed with the error, and only 94 are known to exist today. One of these stamps has sold recently at auction for more than $500,000.
And that’s all there is to getting started with a stamp collection appraisal! Now you know exactly what steps you need to take in order to get an accurate estimate of your collection’s value.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to an expert for help. And if you’re looking to buy or sell stamps, be sure to check out the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA) or the American Philatelic Society (APS).
Do you like to collect stamps? Let us know in the comments below!