Old stamps are enjoyed by enthusiast stamp collectors from all across the globe. However, some are unaware that certain items in their collection could be worth a considerable amount of money.
Outside of stamp collector communities there is also a category of people who own stamps that could be worth a fortune without them realizing or having any interest in stamps. Typically, these stamps will have been passed down through the generations of a family.
In this guide, we will be discussing how you can determine the value of your own stamps, as well as detailing what makes a stamp valuable in the first place. So if you’re interested in figuring out what your own collection is worth, read on, and we will help you do just that.
Are Old Stamps Worth Money?
Generally speaking, old stamps are rarely worth a significant amount of money. However, there are rare cases where certain stamps have sold for six, sometimes even seven figures.
In the U.S, stamps issued after 1930 are only worth face value. This is because any stamp issued since 1930 is considered a modern stamp. Therefore, you will need to hold stamps from before this year to have a chance of them being valuable.
For countries such as China, stamps from the 60’s and 70’s tend to do well. Older stamps from the British Commonwealth are also worth getting a valuation on, as many Commonwealth stamps from before 1960 are known to be highly valuable.
How do I Know if My Old Stamps are Valuable?
Figuring out how much a stamp is worth can be difficult. In fact, there are several different factors that come into play when determining the value of a stamp, with many of these factors having their own individual subsections.
If you are interested in conducting your own stamp valuations, there are a variety of different techniques that can be used to determine whether or not a stamp is valuable. Below is a step-by-step process that you can use to figure out if your old stamps are valuable.
Identify the Year of Issue
As mentioned, the year of issue for a stamp matters greatly. Because of this, the first thing you are going to want to do is determining whether or not the stamp was issued before or after 1930. Any stamp issued after this year is arguably not worth further investigation.
Check the Overall Condition of the Stamp
Another important factor in determining the value of a stamp is its condition. The better condition the stamp is in, the higher the chances of it being valuable.
Key things to look out for when assessing a stamp’s condition include its physical condition, as well as how centered the stamp is. A stamp in good physical condition will be free from bends, tears, and other damage, while a well centered stamp will have equal amounts of whitespace around its edges.
Once you have assessed the stamp, it can then be graded. There exists three distinct categories within stamp grading, including “sound”, “faulty”, and “defective”.
A sound stamp is one that has no imperfections and is, therefore, in perfect condition. A faulty stamp will have minor imperfections, such as a small crease or bend. Defective stamps include large bends and creases and may also contain tears.
Make Sure the Stamp is Unhinged
Typically, the most valuable stamps will be those that have never had a hinge applied to them. This is because they will still have their original gum in place. If a hinge has been applied to the stamp, it removes the stamp’s original adhesive, reducing the overall value of the stamp.
Check the Demand for the Stamp
Once you have the issue year and have assessed the condition of the stamp, you can check to see if there is a demand for the stamp. This is important as a stamp with little or no demand for it is unlikely to sell for good money, if at all.
Checking the demand for a stamp can be done using auction realizations. Please note that only official stamp auctions should be used for this process, as general auction sites can sometimes manipulate the visibility of certain items, resulting in depressed values.
Research the Stamp Online
One of the simplest ways to determine if a stamp is valuable is to conduct some online research. There are many sites available to help do this, including auction sites and forums.
You could also try using social media to get in contact with other stamp collectors. However, we recommend you exercise caution with this approach, as there is a chance that another enthusiast may try to scam you by suggesting a stamp is worth less than it actually is.
The Stamp Contains a Rare Error
Some of the most valuable stamps are actually those that are imperfect, not because of any physical damage, but because of a misprint. These stamps are especially rare, giving them added value among collectors, much like other misprinted items such as books and trading cards.
The Stamp is on its Original Envelope
One thing that can increase the value of a stamp is if it is still on the original envelope it was used on. This can sometimes allow the stamp to fetch for a considerable premium, much higher than the value of the franked stamps.
Franking is a pre-paid postage option that involves printing the stamp directly onto an envelope. As you can imagine, a valuable stamp that is still stuck to an envelope with its original adhesive is going to be worth more, as it has been preserved well over a considerable amount of time.
Where to Find the Value of Old Stamps?
Finding the value of an old stamp yourself can be an arduous process. This is especially true if you are not a stamp collector yourself, but have simply come into possession of a rare stamp.
Fortunately, in the modern day, websites and apps exist which can do much of the valuation work for us. Below is a selection of websites designed to assess the value of old stamps.
Find Your Stamps Value
findyourstampsvalue.com is a site dedicated to helping people figure out the value of their stamps. It is a simple site, which allows you to upload a photo of your stamp, or simply enter a description of the stamp.
The site also gives you the option of browsing its stamp catalog to try and find your stamp. However, we recommend simply uploading your own image to save time. Entering a description is recommended as a useful alternative if you do not have an image.
Once the site has evaluated your stamp, it will then provide you with information about the stamp, including useful things such as the country, denomination, print method and issue date. Other information about your stamp includes perforation method, color, and watermark.
stampworld.com is a site providing a vast amount of information about stamps, and it also includes a catalog of stamps containing various information about each of them. The site also allows you to buy or sell stamps that exist within its catalog.
The site also includes many other interesting sections, such as a forum, which can be used to interact with other enthusiasts, as well as discuss potentially valuable stamps. You can also use the site to find clubs, organizations, and dealers that may be interested in your stamp collection.
Warwick and Warwick
www.warwickandwarwick.com is an auctioneer website with a department dedicated to stamps and postal history. The site provides a variety of services, including auctions and valuations, and there is even an online catalog available, with filters to see select stamps.
Other useful features on the site include advice on buying and selling items, as well as a News section containing useful guides and auction reports. There is also an article library available.
The Philatelic Traders Society Ltd
https://www.thepts.net is a website providing a stamp valuation service, as well as a variety of other features. There is also the option to become a member on the site, should you wish to do so.
To value your stamps using the site, you must contact a PTS member that specializes in stamp valuation. You can also use the site to find various information about stamps, as the platform is equipped with a rather useful guide.
Determining the value of an old stamp can be a difficult process. If you are an enthusiast, there is a good chance that you enjoy this process. However, if you are not, or you simply don’t have the time for it, online websites are a great way to effectively evaluate your stamps.
These sites can also be used to meet others who share a passion for stamp collecting, whilst providing a way for you to sell your stamps if you have decided to cash in. You may even decide to buy stamps and grow your collection even further.