Where do I go from here?

Many people who inherit a stamp collection have no idea of the value of the collection or what to do with it. The following will give you some ideas in the event you find yourself in this position.

Collect stamps yourself

Stamp collecting is one of the world’s most popular hobbies, satisfying our collecting instincts and providing an insight into the history, geography and culture of the countries whose stamps are collected. Many people find it therapeutic and relief for stress.

For information on stamp collecting please contact your local stamp club. Details of stamp clubs can be obtained from the Federation at:
E-mail [email protected]

How valuable could it be?

If you decide not to collect stamps find out the value of the collection. Most collectors save stamps because they enjoy the hobby. Collections are often built of stamps obtained from mail, usually the most common values. As a result most collections aren’t worth a fortune. Many people overvalue stamps in their possession. Because a stamp is old doesn’t mean it’s valuable. Many old stamps were issued in large quantities. However, there have been occasions where valuable stamps have been destroyed because collectors have told their partners their collection is of ‘no value’ in order to avoid criticism about money spent on the hobby. Collections have been disposed of cheaply by inheritors being unaware of the value.

Stamp values are determined by:

  1. supply and demand: A stamp printed in large numbers will rarely have much value. A very rare stamp is of little value if there are few people wishing to buy it;
  2. condition: The condition of a stamp is very important in determining its value. A damaged stamp is usually of little value unless it is exceedingly rare.

Stamp catalogues are used as basis for a dealer’s selling price. Because they need to make a profit on a purchase dealers will normally buy a stamp for a percentage of its catalogue price.

Take care of the collection

Water, mould or insects easily damage stamps. Don’t leave the collection in a damp garage or basement. Before you have the collection valued never remove stamps from an envelope or postcard. Many stamps, particularly older ones, can be worth more on cover than as a single stamp. Take the collection in the albums, books or boxes in which it was housed.

Have the collection valued

To be sure of the real value have the collection properly valued. Some stamp clubs value material or could suggest where you might go. Members of the NZ Stamp Dealers Association (NZSDA) agree to abide by a code of ethics and will either provide you with a realistic idea of what the collection is worth or refer you to another dealer, collector or stamp club with specialised knowledge.

For details of members check the NZSDA website at www.nzsda.com

Disposal of the collection

After you’ve found out the collection’s value your options include giving it away or selling it.

Giving it away

If the collection has little monetary value consider giving it to a young relation, neighbour or a stamp club for young people. For details of these clubs contact:

Philatelic Youth Council (PYC)
P O Box 2979
Shortland Street
Auckland 1140

or check their details at Philatelic Youth Council.

Selling it

If the collection has a reasonable value you may wish to sell it. The major ways include:

  • selling directly to a dealer;
  • consigning it to an auction house; or
  • sale through a stamp club

Selling to a dealer

For most people direct sale to a dealer is the most convenient method of selling a collection. A member of the NZSDA will make you a fair offer for the collection or direct you to another dealer who may be interested. It is worthwhile obtaining at least two offers. Dealers may not be interested in buying material when they have no potential buyer or when they are already well stocked. A dealer may be interested in only a few items in the collection. Try alternative buyers before allowing the collection to be split.

Selling by auction

If the collection has significant value the best method of disposal is by auction. NZSDA members can advise of auction houses able to sell the material. Some larger stamp societies also run regular auctions often specialising in estate collections. Auctions may have world-wide clientele so you will get the best market value. Commission, however, may be as high as 25%.

Stamp Club sales

Where the collection consists mainly of lower value material and the person from whom the collection was inherited was the member of a stamp club the club may be able to offer the collection for sale through its members.