Apfelbaum’s Corner – Volume 71

Catalog value is often a misleading quotation when it is used to value collections for tax or probate purposes. The government appraiser who figures every 10 cent catalog item, who disregards condition and to whom the popularity and current market are unknown, is in a poor position to place a value on stamps. Equally unqualified is the novice collector who, though he can read the catalog, has little experience in converting its figures into a fair resale price.

I have, during the past three months, come upon cases where tax was paid on an estate based on the full catalog value of common and poor quality stamps because the appraiser and the lawyer of the estate knew no better. Accurate appraisal of stamps requires years of experience. Estimating the worth of scarce varieties and unusual pieces is well beyond the ability of 99 out of 100 collectors. It is completely over the head of such appraisers as real estate men, numismatists, butchers, and haberdashers. I have seen the results achieved by these people, thoroughly competent in the above occupations, when they endeavored to value stamps. The hundreds of dollars in excess taxes paid by the estates they mis-valued could well have gone to a worthy charity or toward making the widow’s later years more comfortable.