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Stamp Valuations

maintained by Katharine Ashlock. Last update November 15, 2008, 8:47 am EST
Return to Index to FAQ's

I found/was given/bought a stamp or stamp collection and want to know if it is worth anything?

A somewhat subjective question when asked to a group of philatelists (stamp collectors) - most of us would value any stamp unless it's damaged!


Perhaps the most important thing to know about value is that it depends on 4 things - condition, rarity, market atmosphere and current trends.


Most beginners are shocked to learn their stamp from 1890 is worth a few cents! Just because a stamp is old does not mean it is valuable. You must consider the 4 things listed above. Also, if your stamp is damaged (ie, missing a perforation, bent, torn, dirty, creased) this will considerably lessen its value and appeal.

Unless the source of your collection is aware of its value, chances are, the average 'found' collection is not worth a huge amount of money.

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How can I research to find the value of my stamps?

The simplest place to start would be a stamp catalogue. There are many on the market and of course, different people prefer different catalogues. You are most likely to come across the Scott Standardized Catalogue of Stamps which can be purchased from a book store or stamp dealer. You might also want to check your local library to see if you can borrow a copy.


The current Scott catalogues for the entire World are covered in 5 separate volumes in alphabetic order. Another popular worldwide catalogue is Stanley Gibbons. SG also has a website at www.allworldstamps.com that allows you to check the stamp value online. This listing isn't complete, but it's free and relatively simple to use.

Now, that being said, catalogues are only a guideline to value. (CV)

Al Singer, summarizes it here:

In general, and taking stamps with values under $500, approval dealers will sell stamps at 60% - 100% of CV, store front dealers will sell at 60% - 80% of CV, bourse dealers because of limited overhead, sell at 50% - 60% of cv, and collectors who do occaisional selling, sell at 35% - 45% of CV.
Looking at the cheapest stamps, Scott explains in the cat. preface that the $0.20 CV is not an actual stamp value but the dealers' handling fee. Bourse dealers take only half of that. On the other hand, higher value stamps, $500 CV and over, are best purchased at auction, where the market determines value. A stamp of that value, in VF to XF will often have a reserve of 50% of CV, and will sell at 65% to 80%.

As for knowing what catalog suits your needs best, it is generally regional preference.

Here are some common catalogues and for what country they are used: Scott - Worldwide, specialty in USA Stanley Gibbons - Worldwide, speciality in Great Britain Michel - Worldwide, volumes by region, specialty in Germany OCB - Belgium Hibernian - Ireland Sakura - Japan Yvert and Tellier - France

Outside of catalogues, you can also check out stamp auction prices by seeking copies of a PRICES REALIZED listing from a stamp auction house, or simply looking on ebay to see what things are selling for.

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Where can I get the most money for my stamps?

There are a number of ways to sell your stamps. The easiest is get an offer from several stamp dealers and sell to whomever makes the best offer.

You can also offer up your collection to an established Stamp Auction House and allow them to sell it on your behalf (if they are willing to take it). This is the best option if you have a valuable or very specific collection. You will pay a commission fee for this, but will likely get a higher return.


Or, you can sell directly to private collectors by marketing your items on auction sites like ebay. This takes more time but will likely get you more money than selling to a dealer.

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I have a set/stamp that is bright gold, marked as a 24 karat gold replica stamp - what is this worth?

Gold replica stamps were sold as a "collector's item". Often this means, that the item is not worth much money to an actual collector. Though these items as stamps and FDC were sold for $8-10 a piece, you will find most dealers would offer you $1-2 for them, and subsequently resell them at $3-5.


Not the best financial investment, but if it piques your interest, why not? I have noticed these items get a better return when listed on ebay.
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