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Is the market really dead?

coinnut86coinnut86 Posts: 1,850 ✭✭✭

I recently came across my husband's stamp collection that he inherited from his grandfather. He's near 50, with boxes of boxes of non cancelled stamps, mostly sheets. I know nothing of stamps and nor does he. They've been in boxes (plastic totes) for years. Do we just hold on to them? Is there something we should be looking for? I've only ever collect coins and know nothing of stamps.

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Comments

  • Time4aGansettTime4aGansett Posts: 383 ✭✭✭

    Really not much over the past 50 years worth much. Best bet is to go library and take out a copy of the Scott US Specialized Catalogue, peruse it and search for the stamps you have, then look up on eBay to see what the stamps are selling for.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The great majority of unused sheets of US stamps from the past 60+ years will have to be discounted well below face value. Your local library probably has a copy of the Scott US Specialized Stamp Catalog in its reference section. Use it to see if you have any of the better issues. The prices in the Scott catalog are retail. You will actually get less, probably much less when it comes time to sell. Regardless. if you have no interest in them I would sell them for whatever you can get. Young people have no interest in stamp collecting so it seems unlikely that there will be any price rebound in the near future.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • CauponateCauponate Posts: 1
    edited December 2, 2019 6:08AM

    Yeah if your not interested in them, you should sell them. There are a lot of sites out there that has a guide of where to buy stamps like wheretobuystamps.

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 3,480 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @291fifth said:
    The great majority of unused sheets of US stamps from the past 60+ years will have to be discounted well below face value. Your local library probably has a copy of the Scott US Specialized Stamp Catalog in its reference section. Use it to see if you have any of the better issues. The prices in the Scott catalog are retail. You will actually get less, probably much less when it comes time to sell. Regardless. if you have no interest in them I would sell them for whatever you can get. Young people have no interest in stamp collecting so it seems unlikely that there will be any price rebound in the near future.

    I don’t think even “old” people have an interest in stamp collecting either!

    Do local libraries even have copies of the Scott catalog anymore? I wouldn’t count on it. Librarians aren’t fools. Why buy them if few read them?

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pruebas said:

    @291fifth said:
    The great majority of unused sheets of US stamps from the past 60+ years will have to be discounted well below face value. Your local library probably has a copy of the Scott US Specialized Stamp Catalog in its reference section. Use it to see if you have any of the better issues. The prices in the Scott catalog are retail. You will actually get less, probably much less when it comes time to sell. Regardless. if you have no interest in them I would sell them for whatever you can get. Young people have no interest in stamp collecting so it seems unlikely that there will be any price rebound in the near future.

    I don’t think even “old” people have an interest in stamp collecting either!

    Do local libraries even have copies of the Scott catalog anymore? I wouldn’t count on it. Librarians aren’t fools. Why buy them if few read them?

    My own library did have a set the last time I looked. I will have to check and see if that is still the case.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • ambro51ambro51 Posts: 13,511 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Depends a LOT on what denomination these sheets are. Regular 3 cent commemoratives, least valuable of all. IF you have high value stamps, $1 or $5 regular issues....that’s a jackpot. Good Luck

  • It's fun to add one to any stamps you use for postage.
    It probably won't reignite the hobby but it will make a tiny bit of interest to the addressee.
    Maybe.

  • MarkKelleyMarkKelley Posts: 956 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I realize you don't want to hear this, but the best use for most of them is to use what you can for postage. If you try to sell them, very few will be worth a premium and the majority will be discounted from face value.

  • JimnightJimnight Posts: 9,812 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I doubt that stamp collecting will die off.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Jimnight said:
    I doubt that stamp collecting will die off.

    It already has, to a large extent. :/

    Stamps are still as nice and as historical as they always were, but there are so many fewer collectors that for all but rare stamps and a few niche parts of the hobby, the market has crashed.

  • bigmountainlionbigmountainlion Posts: 149 ✭✭✭

    There are way more older coin collectors than younger coin collectors, most collectibles have less buyers than before. There are still stamp collectors, just not as many.

  • Great time to be a stamp collector.
    I can buy most of the stamps issued over the last 100 years in unused condition for face value or less. Just mailed some items out using stamps from the 1930s.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LeDandy said:
    The hobby is dying but investment grade material (i.e., high grade and classics) are doing quite well.

    ... but for how long. From what I can see young people have absolutely no interest in stamp collecting. I don't consider any stamps to be "investment grade".

    All glory is fleeting.
  • I wouldnt put any serious money into it. However, I love the hobby and will continue to collect event covers. I’m not interested in the future value.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 26, 2021 9:21PM

    I recently purchased an event cover with a cachet and postmark from 1973 commemorating the swearing in of Carla Hills to a cabinet position in the Ford administration. She was the third female cabinet member in our nation's history.

    I then sent it to Carla Hills and she autographed it for me.

    A couple weeks from start to finish and I created a whole new collectable for under $5. :p

  • @JBK said:
    I recently purchased an event cover with a cachet and postmark from 1973 commemorating the swearing in of Carla Hills to a cabinet position in the Ford administration. She was the third female cabinet member in our nation's history.

    I then sent it to Carla Hills and she autographed it for me.

    A couple weeks from start to finish and I created a whole new collectable for under $5. :p

    That’s using the old bean!! Reminds me of a clip from Antiques Roadshow wherein someone Time magazines to the person on the cover for an autograph. Turned out to be an incredible collection and real history.

  • HydrantHydrant Posts: 6,829 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 1, 2021 5:16PM

    I knew a man whose last name was Scott. He died awhile back. He told me the stamp market was dead and never coming back. I miss that guy. His last name was SCOTT. Does that RING A BELL? If it doesn't...... it should.

    RIP MY FRIEND
    SEMPER FIDELIS

  • esquiresportsesquiresports Posts: 1,360 ✭✭✭

    With sports cards and memorabilia shifting more from collecting to speculating (in my opinion), I started looking back at some alternative pastimes. Thinking about stamps brought me back to my childhood, and I was very surprised to see the ability to purchase mint/mounted stamp collections going back to the 1930s for significantly less than face value. I have picked up some nice commemorative collections that come with nice background on each stamp, among other items. I look forward to sending to my dad for Father's Day. Maybe I am just getting old, but reading about the various commemorative stamps has been a great way to be reminded about American history.

    As a side note, I feel like the USPS didn't help the collecting community when it started releasing so many different stamps beginning in the 1990s or so. I am guessing that, much like overproduction of sports cards in the 1990s, it really turned off/priced out a lot of collectors.

    Always buying 1971 OPC Baseball packs.
  • Jzyskowski1Jzyskowski1 Posts: 4,529 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sounds like a good time for grandpa here to put together a nice collection for grandson (7) and put with his time capsule (open at 30). I will start looking through the posts!

    Mr.2Percent. “ everybody wants to rule the world “😉🙀🦫

  • bigmountainlionbigmountainlion Posts: 149 ✭✭✭

    I got outbid on 90% on lots that I was interested...

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @bigmountainlion said:
    I got outbid on 90% on lots that I was interested...

    What were you bidding on?

    All glory is fleeting.
  • GoldenageGoldenage Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes

  • OverdateOverdate Posts: 6,684 ✭✭✭✭✭

    At the end of World War Two (1945), the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar was about 15 times what it is today. (That's according to official inflation figures - could be higher.)

    So if you can buy stamps from that era at, say, a 25% discount, you are actually paying only about 5 percent of the original price in terms of purchasing power!

    Coins did much better. If someone purchased and saved $2.00 worth of stamps from the Post Office in 1945, they would be worth only about $1.50 today. If, instead, that person used that $2.00 to buy and save an uncirculated roll of common-date war nickels from a bank, that roll would be worth $200 or more today. Huge difference!

    My Adolph A. Weinman signature :)

  • bigmountainlionbigmountainlion Posts: 149 ✭✭✭

    I was bidding at Kellehler, last year they had a ton of zeppelins, i was bidding at lower end of estimate, lost on all of them, this time i was bidding at items from $250 to $1500. Only won a few. Many lots were sold over estimate.

  • It is a dying Hobby. I love stamps. I look at them all the time. Im 52 though. The younger generation doesn't seem to care about collecting, or studying stamps. I'm probably going to sell mine soon. The times are changing.

  • @Jack3028 said:
    It is a dying Hobby. I love stamps. I look at them all the time. Im 52 though. The younger generation doesn't seem to care about collecting, or studying stamps. I'm probably going to sell mine soon. The times are changing.

    If you collect quality and know what you are buying, stamps can and will hold value to others. I'm 52 as well and there are still a lot of strong collectors out there. I think because a lot of people can't sell their stuff for full SCV they think it's a dead hobby but it's likely the stuff wasn't worth anywhere near cat value to begin with. If a person has collected good stuff and not just tried to fill spots with whatever they could afford the return will be decent if they decide to sell. At worst they are likely to break even.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Contempcancel said:

    @Jack3028 said:
    It is a dying Hobby. I love stamps. I look at them all the time. Im 52 though. The younger generation doesn't seem to care about collecting, or studying stamps. I'm probably going to sell mine soon. The times are changing.

    If you collect quality and know what you are buying, stamps can and will hold value to others. I'm 52 as well and there are still a lot of strong collectors out there. I think because a lot of people can't sell their stuff for full SCV they think it's a dead hobby but it's likely the stuff wasn't worth anywhere near cat value to begin with. If a person has collected good stuff and not just tried to fill spots with whatever they could afford the return will be decent if they decide to sell. At worst they are likely to break even.

    Define "quality". In my mind it means items, stamps or covers, that major exhibitors desire for use in their exhibits. Those exhibitors ARE very dedicated to the hobby but the material they need is truly very scarce or rare.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • DoubleEagle59DoubleEagle59 Posts: 7,933 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Completely dead.....comatose and cold as ice.

    What's left is more like The Walking Dead.

    "Gold is money, and nothing else" (JP Morgan, 1912)

    "Gold is the canary in the financial coal mine." (Alan Greenspan)

    "I only golf on days that end in 'Y'" (DE59)
  • High end stuff is still selling well, common stamps from 1940s and on are dead

  • GansetttimeGansetttime Posts: 166 ✭✭✭

    @bigmountainlion said:
    High end stuff is still selling well, common stamps from 1940s and on are dead

    I agree on high end, however, many recent issues from the past decade have been in high demand.
    There is interest in low end classics too.
    The hobby certainly isn't dead, as with all hobbies it has its hot and cold segments.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm not surprised to hear that some of the recent issues are in demand. The number being saved is probably smaller than most realize.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 4, 2021 3:36PM

    Also, as I have been hearing, "postal history" (used envelopes with stamps and postmarks, for example), is doing well.

    As actual stamp usage declines, some specific uses of stamps (on a postmarked envelope) are worth saving. In these cases, used stamps on covers are worth far more than the same stamps in mint condition.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JBK said:
    Also, as I have been hearing, "postal history" (used envelopes with stamps and postmarks, for example), is doing well.

    As actual stamp usage declines, some specific uses of stamps (on a postmarked envelope) are worth saving. In these cases, used stamps on covers are worth far more than the same stamps in mint condition.

    The movement toward postal history has been ongoing for quite some time. I suspect the advent of the self-stick stamps had something to do with the increase in interest (though there has always been considerable interest.)

    First day covers are weak.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • kruegerkrueger Posts: 653 ✭✭✭

    Baseball cards are hot! Pushing out coins. Judging by grading services overload submittals

  • DgilbertDgilbert Posts: 127 ✭✭✭

    @koynekwest said:
    Coins are my main thing, but I've been collecting stamps longer than coins-I started with stamps in the late 50s. I'm still a casual stamp collector but I mainly like stuff like this one-

    I recognize that stamp from my grandfathers (1915 - 2017) collection that I recently acquired. He was a collector from as far back as the 1940 from what my father tells me maybe even earlier. his collection dates back to the 1860 is the earliest American stamp I have come across so far.

    "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens" Jimi Hendrix.
    instagram dgilbert008

  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 10, 2022 8:03AM

    102!!

    1860 is pretty early for a US stamp. They won't go back to much farther than that.

    If you have that $1 error stamp that's a nice one.

    All I can say is, be very careful how you handle and store the stamps. Damage is easy to happen with stamps.

  • originalisbestoriginalisbest Posts: 5,661 ✭✭✭✭

    It's not dead -- just different -- and VERY selective -- but if you have truly rare stuff that's also in great condition, then it's vibrant. Really not too much different than coins, though I would note, even coin drek that's made of precious metals will always have value due to that. "Kiddie" stamps from value packets will always be what they are, but high-quality stamps (mostly 1920s and back for US) and postal history do have value potential.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No, it's kaput, or at least big parts of it are. ;)

    Quality/high value and interesting postal history items still have value, as you mentioned, but the basic stuff is finished.

    Actually, there is still some interest there, but the supply is so much greater than demand that prices for most stuff have collapsed.

    It's a fantastic time to be or become a stamp collector. You have your pick of everything out there that is surplus to demand.

  • originalisbestoriginalisbest Posts: 5,661 ✭✭✭✭

    That is what I was trying to say I guess. :smile: Yes, I do feel for someone who "put back" sheets and sheets of then current commem stamps in the 30s, hoping to cash in one day. They'd have been leaps and bounds ahead keeping the value in just basic silver change. Gold, if they could afford it (setting aside concerns about the gold recall in that era.) You are undoubtedly correct, the supply vastly outweighs demand -- hence it is a lot of fun for literally pennies, for a lot of pretty stamps! Interesting to compare how common stamps of the middle '30s are, compared to comic books of the same time period. Both paper basically, but the stamps were kept en masse, the comics for the vast majority, consumed and thrown away. And leads us to the supply and demand today. :smile:

  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hey, the stamps of yesteryear are just as beautiful as they always were, maybe more so in comparison to current production. And thanks to the oversupply I can use decades-old stamps that I bought at a discount to mail my letters. :p

    They had no way to know years ago what would happen to their hobby. But it is a cautionary tale for any hobby that is extremely popular. There is no where to go but down.

  • It is great time to collect.
    You can buy stamps cheaper than you could have bought them at the post office for the last 80 years.
    Just bought a group going back to 1893 and did not even have to pay face value.
    Imagine going to a post office today and them having stamps going back 100 years.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 22,437 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The early US issues are very hard to find with no faults. If you find some in the early issues take very good care of them.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • BLUEJAYWAYBLUEJAYWAY Posts: 6,038 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It is a shame that most of the market has collapsed. But if you want to collect you can get in fairly cheap. The early stamps are true works of art and they do contain historical information as well. I like the space program examples.

    Successful transactions:Tookybandit
  • GansetttimeGansetttime Posts: 166 ✭✭✭

    Now is the prefect time to get into/start in the hobby. Reasonable pricing will get you off to a great start to a collection.
    Pre 1900 is still strong. And the last decade has shown bigger gains, nobody saved these recent stamps. Pricing can be everywhere depending on condition, so select based on eye appeal and budget restrictions.
    The Zeps may not have moved much over the past decades, but are solid movers in lower-mid grade. The higher end ones are rarer and command bigger dollars.
    Seems to be a bigger interest in BOTB issues. Some of these issues can be real challenging to find, are beautiful, and not always break the bank.
    Will you get rich in stamps? Probably not. This is more of a relaxing hobby. The old days of popularity and making money are certainly over.

  • JBKJBK Posts: 12,260 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I dabble in a little modern postal history.

    Today I sent a letter to someone in Russia. Since the USPS has suspended mail to Russia, I expect that in a few days or a week it will come back marked "service temporarily suspended". It will be a memento of the wartime mail interruptions.

  • DBSTrader2DBSTrader2 Posts: 3,332 ✭✭✭✭

    I have a couple individual stamp annual sets issued back in the 1970's by the USPS, along with maybe 100+ FDC's. The FDC's are split between self-addressed envelopes (including the state stamp series) and those using printed "cachets" sold in coin/stamp stores. There's also a smattering of mint-condition stamps from the 40's on still bunched together in glassine(?) envelopes just waiting to be mounted into non-existent albums.

    I can't tell you the last time I even opened or looked at them.

    As a kid, I made my own albums, using scotch tape instead of mounting tape. So all those were ruined over time as the glue on the tape ate thru them. Didn't really matter, as they were almost all from circulation & I'd moved on from the hobby......

    Several years ago, I salvaged anything I could individual-stamp-wise, and dropped them off at a local coin show at a desk collecting them for YN stamp collectors.

    I held onto the FDC's & annual sets, along with German "overstamp" inflation-era stamps I had saved & let one of my boys use in a presentation in school (those are pretty neat historically). I'll probably just keep them stored somewhere for my grandkids.

    But I'm going to use the mint stamps from the annual sets for everyday postage...........

  • GansetttimeGansetttime Posts: 166 ✭✭✭

    Unfortunately this era of material is worthless. Everybody has them or is trying to sell them. For a beginner it is an affordable place to start, as deals are a plenty.
    FDC were attempted to jumpstart my collection as I grew up, but I never got into them. Being older, I now appreciate the artwork and presentation, and have purchased a few on subjects I truly enjoy rather than collect complete eras. Keeps my interest going in other areas instead of just focusing on the valuable part of my collection.

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