Before, jumping into the ‘to do’ list, I think it’s equally important to understand what it means to inherit such collection.
What is Means To Inherit a Stamp Collection?
If you come to know that somebody has willed a stamp collection for you, then it must be a great moment of self-esteem. It means, the owner of the stamp collection believed in you and really trusted you that he/she feels like you can do true justice with the philately collection by taking special care of a such inherited postage collection.
Therefore, when you have given the responsibility, it is important you take the following measures to make sure the collection improve its true value over time.
How to Care?
Your first priority should be to care for your stamp collection and to find the most suitable place to keep it. Never ignore the following tips when doing so.
❖ Make sure that the selected area is a cool and dry place.
❖ Make sure that sun-light is not directly reachable to this collection.
❖ Make sure that collection has been kept in moderate temperature and humidity.
❖ Make sure that stamp album or collection is not facing any pressure on it that can make the stamp stick to a page.
❖ You can even try to find a knowledgeable person or stamp club to advise you in finding a suitable place for this collection. If that person is in your close circle, then you could trust him and ask him to help you rather than believing somebody who is foreign.
❖ You can even take help from online material and read out experiences of different people who have shared guides on what they did when they come to know, someone left them a stamp collection. For example, when their grandfather left a stamp collection asset for them and how they handled it.
After all, finding out the real value of your stamp collection will give you some perspective. Remember, that value can rise over time with no clue, so you shouldn’t be distracted if you found it’s ‘Today’s Value’ is not considerable.
How To Find Out the Real Value of a Stamp Collection?
Determine Real Value of a Stamp Collection
To find out the real value of a stamp or a stamp collection is quite a difficult job, especially if you have no idea about stamps before.
But two ways can help you to do this.
Let’s find out more.
1. First is, in case you do not want to do research work about the stamp collection by yourself, then you can take help from a stamp dealer and ask him to do this task for you as there are many stamp dealers around you.
Note: Keep in mind that if you are fully dependent on a stamp dealer, then he might give you the lower value because the dealer himself is definitely interested in buying an inherited stamp collection. Therefore, we do not recommend you to be fully dependent on any stamp dealer or one person’s view.
2. Second is, you can do this research work by yourself. If you choose this option, then keep reading the next section, which discusses the most important factors in stamp appraisal and valuation.
Stamp Appraisal and Valuations – The Factors Affecting The Value
You have decided that you will personally do the ‘detective work’ or would like to think again of the value suggested by a dealer or stamp club personnel.
❖ Regardless, it is important for you to know about the key factors affecting the true value of the stamp collection. At what Age people started using these stamps in your collection and how ancient these stamps are?
❖ How rare are these stamps?
❖ Are they used or unused stamps?
❖ How healthy is each stamp? Are there any damages?
All these factors are elaborated for better understanding in the following way:
❏ Mostly, the issue year and country of issue of a stamp being written on it that you could clearly read with the help of magnifying glass.
❏ And even you can see any damage to a stamp e.g. tear, crease, visibly through a magnifying glass.
❏ The condition of every stamp in stamp collection also determines how much worth this collection can have. The better the condition, the better the value of stamps will be.
❏ Never hinged through gums. And, used stamps are generally not considered the best-valued stamps.
❏ Sometimes used stamps have cancellation marks on them and the heavier that mark will be, lesser the value of that stamp will be. In case, there is something important about the cancellation, for example, date or location, then it will help to boost the value of that stamp.
❏ When the condition and year of stamps are known to you, whether it is a used stamp or not, it is very easy for you to identify the stamp. Once you identify that stamp, you can now find out the price of the stamp in a stamp catalog.
We suggest you to Scotts Catalogue USA as it is the most authentic catalog. You will find different catalogues for each country, and these catalogues give you a rough idea of every stamp as prices keep on going up and down which depend on its demand, but they are definitely good guides for you.
❏ If a small piece of a stamp is missing, then it will be considered as low in value even if it is a rare or unique stamp.
❏ Stamps that have beautiful edging or perfect perforations are precious. The neater is the edging, the higher the value will be.
❏ Conditions that make a stamp collection less valuable, generally are the below.
➢ The poor and tattered condition which disfigured a stamp design.
➢ If any stamp is marked with any event or anniversary.
But, remember, in some cases, the value can go in both ways. For example, as noted above, in most cases a cancellation on a stamp (e.g. seal) is considered a reason for value drop, in case of that cancellation is unique, then it could boost the value of that stamp as well.
After all, it is important to remember that dollar value is not always the true value of a stamp collection. There is more to the value of a stamp collection.
Let’s find out what are they.
How To Find Out the Sentimental Value and the History of a Stamp Collection
The following discussion will help you to better understand the sentimental value and history of an inherited stamp collection.
What is the Sentimental Value?
I am sure that many people can definitely relate to the sentimental value that we are going to talk about.
When you have inherited a stamp collection that intentionally or unintentionally your sentiments attached to it and it becomes one of the most valuable things of your life purpose.
It happens especially when it has been inherited to you from your grandparents or any relatives and you have seen what passion they have while making these stamps, a valuable collection. There are high chances that you have inherited this love and passion for stamps from your bloodline if your grandparents and parents were fond of collecting stamps.
In case, if stamp collection is been inherited from a person who is not your relative and you haven’t seen him collecting various types of stamps all his life, but still your inner soul will keep reminding you that somebody has trusted you so much that he selected you as an inheritor of his precious collection.
As such, regardless who the collection ended up with you, it becomes your utmost duty to do justice with this collection and do your best effort to execute with this collection that it deserves.
Interestingly, in some cases, the collections are passed through generations. At least, a part of a collection.
How to Determine the History of a Stamp Collection?
There are many ways that you can use to learn about the history of a stamp collection.
❖ You can take help from different online sources as there is complete literature available on different websites, blogs and vlogs that can better educate you about stamps.
❖ You can contact an appropriate stamp collection society or club and ask them to help you in order to find out the history of your inherited collection.
❖ You may try to find people around your community that have good knowledge about postage stamps and request them in telling the history of your collection.
❖ You can visit a nearby stamp collection library, and read different journals and magazines that tell the history of various stamps.
Note: Whatever way you choose to learn about the history of your stamp collection, never forget to write down the main points of every stamp history because it is challenging to remember such long details until or unless you have a memory like any genius.
Now, one of the burning questions. What to do with a stamp collection? If to sell, donate or preserve?
Let’s find out.
Sell vs. Preserve vs. Donate – Things To Consider Before Making a Decision
To just sell or keep this collection, is the first question that will strike your mind when you become an owner of a stamp collection willingly or by accident.
Basically, you have three options and you can select any one of it according to your choice.
1) Option 1: To sell this collection
Let’s suppose you selected the first option of not to keep those stamps and decided to sell them, then you should consider following tips to do justice with to the collection (at least).
❖ Find out and search, is it the best time to sell this collection because the market value of stamp collection keeps on changing quite frequently.
If your finding says that you should hold for some time so that the market value of this stamp collection will increase in a few years to decades, or time then doesn’t make a hurry of selling it instantly until or unless you are in a desperate need of some coins. (Which is not the case with the most of our readers!)
❖ If you have absolutely decided that you are going to sell this postage collection, then you can talk to stamp dealers about it. But before selling it, do your research and due diligence. At least ask the following questions.
❏ Which dealer is best and honest?
❏ Which stamp society and clubs
are standard and have a long history of satisfying their clients and members when selling or sourcing buyers.
❖ There are also online public auctions that can buy your stamp collection and you don’t need to visit any dealer office if that’s the case.
2) Option 2: To keep the collection and become a collector
Now we suppose that you have selected option 2, then we recommend you to increase the size of the collection and it can happen if you work on adding more stamps in it.
In other words, a collection can never be a complete collection and it is always supposed to be an in-progress state. Doing this will not only increase the value of your collection and it could even become your favorite pastimes, a lifelong investment or hobby.
❖ While keeping this collection, please make sure that you know how to handle these stamps and prevent them from any damage.
3) Option 3: To donate your collection
In case you are interested in selecting option 3, then do not forget that you can donate the inherited collection to a museum or an active stamp club.
Note: we do not recommend donating to a museum because museums neither have enough space to keep these collections safely nor they can facilitate by showing it to interested members. Donating to a stamp club would be a better option.
Our general recommendation is you to go for option 2 and exclude option 1 and 3, where possible.
After all, by any chance, if you decided to sell the stamp collection, stick with below tips, so you do justice to the original collector and to the seller (that is you!).
Tips for Selling a Stamp Collection
These tips should be always considered while selling your stamp collection. They will definitely help you find an appropriate seller for your inherited stamp collection too.
You can sell your collection through two sources, as noted earlier.
1. Sell online
The first source is to sell through online such as on eBay, but keep in mind the following tips before you avail this option:
❖ Digital photos taken through a phone cannot do justice with your stamp collection, so it is better to use a flatbed scanner that can give you a better colour quality of your stamp picture.
❖ Write down essential knowledge or a description of your stamp with a digital photo, for example:
➢ From which country these stamps come from?
➢ In which condition these stamps are right now at?
➢ What is their catalog number?
2. Sell through a stamp dealer
The second source is, you involve a reputable stamp dealer that you can further help you in two ways:
➢ In the first way, you can sell stamp collection directly to the stamp dealer, and he can pay you immediately.
➢ In the second way, you ask the stamp dealer to find a party or person that can pay you enough and a reasonable amount of money for your collection.
In this case, the dealer will act as a middleman and become a negotiator that will try to settle the deal between you and the buyer party.
Note: You also have to pay some amount as a fee to the stamp dealer for being a middle man because he has indirectly sold your collection.
Let’s conclude that if you are an inheritor of a stamp collection, then do not jump onto the idea of just getting rid of that stamp collection.
Our recommendation to you is to spend at least one year learning about your inherited stamps and doing research as well. In this way, you give yourself a chance, as I am sure that you will find the stamp collection very informative and interesting because stamps provide you with knowledge about different countries, ages and times.
After all, if you ever decided to sell the collection, our recommendation is to do it through a reputable stamp club or a dealer.