Chapter 7: How Can I Sell My Stamp Collection?

You’ve decided the best course of action is to sell your collection. It doesn’t matter if you’ve inherited the collection or developed it yourself. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and your decision may depend upon how much your stamps are worth.

How to Sell Rare Stamps

If you know you have rare stamps, you can sell them through several means:

  • Local Dealer:
    Dealers handle both collections and individual stamps. You might sell material directly to a dealer, or you might put it on consignment. If the dealer sells stamps for you, get everything in writing. Be sure to designate a minimum price, a maximum time limit and payment terms. Make good copies of your stamps before handing them over, and always get a receipt.
    Where do you find a reputable dealer? To increase the chances that you’re using a trustworthy professional, make sure the business is affiliated with one of the stamp associations: American Philatelic Society, the American Stamp Dealers Association or the National Stamp Dealers Association. Members must abide by their group’s code of ethics.
    Still not sure the offer is fair? Compare prices from several dealers. One timesaving way to accomplish this is to attend a local stamp show. You can also find names of dealers online.
  • Mail Order Dealer:
    If you’re not going local, consider working with a mail order dealer. After preparing stamps for travel, insure them and send them to the business’s address. The dealer lets you know when your stamps are delivered. Dealers often have insurance to cover collections in transit that they will be inspecting. After a close examination, the dealer might make you an offer for all or some of your collection.
  • American Philatelic Society Circuit Sales:
    APS circuit books are a convenient method for offering stamps to a large number of potential buyers. Mount your stamps inside an APS sales book. After creating a descriptive listing and identifying a price, mail your sales book to APS’s Circuit Sales department.
    Circuit Sales inspects the book and description, and then photographs and categorizes the content. Books are typically circulated for 18 to 24 months. At the end of the term, any payment and remaining stamps go back to the seller. Circuit Sales deducts funds for commission, insurance and postage.
    Still not sure the offer is fair? Compare prices from several dealers. One timesaving way to accomplish this is to attend a local stamp show. You can also find names of dealers online.
  • Auction House:
    If your collection is especially valuable — over $20,000 — consider using an auction house. To find a reliable company, check Linn’s Stamp News or go online for auction houses. You can also ask dealers or stamp club members for references, histories and personal experiences. Then interview auction houses you’re considering to learn about their policies.
    Though this method often pulls the highest price for stamps, you pay a commission. Depending upon the auction schedule, you may have to wait months until your stamps are on the market. When your collection sells, you’ll receive your payment, after commission and fees are deducted, through a check in the mail.

What If Your Stamp Collection Is More Commonplace?

Without rare and valuable stamps, you can still take advantage of many of the same selling opportunities: local dealers, mail order dealers and APS circuit books. Auction houses generally deal only with collections worth at least $3,000. The best way to sell a more commonplace stamp collection depends upon its contents, your location and the amount of time you want to spend on the process.

How to Prepare Stamps to Make Them Sellable

To get the best price for your stamps, it’s essential to present them properly in a stamp album. Place them in tiny, clear plastic covers, or “mounts.” Put a stamp completely inside a mount for full protection. After dampening the back of the mount, you can attach it to an album page. For best results, look for albums identified as being “archival quality.”

This isn’t a technical term, but it’s likely the paper will be non-acidic, because acid damages stamps. However, even the best storage materials do not protect against aging. Inks may change color over time. Sunlight, high temperatures and humidity levels can also harm stamps.

How to Package Stamps for Mailing

If you need to send your stamps to a mail order dealer, it’s vital to protect them for shipment. The time and money you spend to keep your stamps safe during shipping will pay off when they’re received in tip-top shape. To mail your stamps:

  • Make sure you contact the dealer to learn if there are any specific packaging requirements.
  • Don’t send a box that weighs more than 50 pounds. If necessary, put your collection into multiple containers. A corrugated 1.5-cubic-foot carton from a moving company or home improvement store is a good size for many collections.
  • Wrap albums in plastic bags to protect against moisture. Use enough padding, such as crumpled newspaper, to prevent shifting inside the box. Movement might cause damage.
  • Put a packing slip inside the box with the entire collection listed.
  • Put a packing slip inside the box with the entire collection listed.
  • Use shipping tape all around your box in every direction.
  • Write “This Side Up” on the top of the carton.
  • Insure your collection fully. Some dealers, such as Apfelbaum, Inc., offer insurance free of charge for incoming collections, so check first.
  • If you aren’t using the United States Postal Service, check that the shipping company handles and insures stamps. Some don’t.
  • Clearly and securely label the outside of the box with both the intended address and the return address. Include the addresses on a card inside the box as well, just in case an outside label is damaged.

Once you’ve mailed your collection, you’re set. You only need to be patient while the dealer appraises the collection. Then you’ll know what your stamps are worth.

Consider Selling Your Stamp Collection Through Apfelbaum, Inc.

Apfelbaum, Inc. is a highly-regarded family-owned business that has been in the philately business since 1910. Our passion and expertise can help guide you in the right direction when you’re looking to sell your stamps — which can often be an overwhelming process if you go about it on your own.

Check out our sales processes. You’ll find information about:

  • Timing your sales for the best price. If you’re looking to get the highest amount for your stamp collection, timing is everything. Stamp prices can be affected by changes in the market —and whether certain stamps are suddenly available in abundance or if they remain scarce. If you don’t dapple in the stamp selling market regularly, navigating it can be difficult.Working with a professional philatelic firm like Apfelbaum, Inc. is the best way to ensure your timing is precise so you get the most for your collection.
  • Getting an appraisal. We are happy to appraise your stamp collection — for free. You can trust our assessment to be completely accurate, and you’ll know exactly what your collection is worth. That’s tough do if you are trying to determine the value of your stamps on your own.
  • Including your collection during estate planning. Even though stamp collections can be highly valuable, many people forget to include them in their estates after they pass away. This leaves the person in charge of your estate wondering what to do with your collection. Let us help you make a plan for your stamps so they’ll be taken care of, too.
  • Shipping stamps. At Apfelbaum, Inc., we make it easy for you to send your stamp collection to us for an appraisal. Just contact us and let us know you’re planning to send us your collection. When you’re ready, we’ll give you a code to print a shipping label, and your collection ships to us for free, fully insured.For the more valuable collections, we can also arrange to have one of our appraisers visit you.

Call or email us if you have any questions about selling your stamps.


Table of Contents

Return to: Chapter 6 Continue to: Chapter 8/Conclusion

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