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Need some advice about a large quantity of stamps collected over decades.

SanctionIISanctionII Posts: 11,589 ✭✭✭✭✭
Hello folks. Most of my time is spent on the coin forum but I check out the stamp threads occasionally.

A relative of my wife passed away earlier this year. My wife ended up receiving a large number of stamps her relative collected over the years. The stamps include US and non US, cancelled and non cancelled, individual stamps and complete sheets of stamps. Some stamps are loose and unattached while some are affixed to envelopes and post cards. The time period covered by the stamps is around 1910 to the 1980s.

With the above in mind, can anyone tell me in general what to look for, what the stamps could be worth (face value and up) and sources/links to wholesale and retail price guides for stamps.

It may be that my wife will want to sell some or all of the stamps, but before she makes any decisions I am going to try to get a handle on what exactly she has and what the probably value is. If the value is minimal, maybe she can just use them for postage image

Thanks for any input you can give.


  • Go up to the top of the page to Quick Links - click on PSE. At the PSE site, click on Stamp Market Quarterly. This gives you the current market price for the various different grades of stamps. There is also a section that will help you identify the different grades.

    Now that you know that stuff, get yourself a copy of the US Specialized catalogue, or check one out from your library. Another way of identifying the stamps would be to go to:


    The above site has identifiers up to 1970. Hope this helps.

    Rolin Lewis
  • For the US stuff, most stamps after about 1930 are not worth more than face value. Depending on what you have that's older than that, it may have more value.

    There are always exceptions. For example newer stamps may have significant value if they are perfectly centered, particularly if they are mint and the gum is pristine. Well centered used stamps can also have exceptional value.

    The 1847 site is good. If you can hey you're hands on a copy of the Scott catalog that will help you. Even an old catalog will help you identify what you have. A 2-3 year old Scott Specialized catalog can be picked up relatively cheap on Ebay.

  • KentuckyJKentuckyJ Posts: 1,871 ✭✭✭

    Stamps are completely different than coins or currency. I would hazard a guess most people in your situation will find they have minimal value making it almost not worth going to a lot of trouble looking for a sale. You can easily find dealers selling older mint unused postage at 90% or less of their face value, stamps you could throw on a letter today and send via the USPS. Cancelled versions of that same postage can be worth next to nothing. Stamp collecting has only gone down in popularity from the peak interest of the last century. PSE grading and encapsulation are changing everything but the value there is in that of the very high grades. Finding out exactly what you have is the key. There is always the possibility you have one item somewhere in your assortment that would make the search worth your time.

    Good luck! image

  • I forgot to mention that there are some very interesting and collectable postal history items from the early part of the 1900s. Don't use the stamp price to gauge the value of on cover and post card items.

    If your wife does not already have a hobby it would be a great one for her to start, especially researching the postal history.

  • SanctionIISanctionII Posts: 11,589 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for the replies and helpful information.

    Are there any Stamp Forum fans who live in the SF Bay Area? If so maybe we could meet and I could show the collection of stamps and get some feedback from someone who knows the subject matter.
  • coverscovers Posts: 624
    Take your stamps to Schuyler Rumsey (Philatelic Auctions) - after his auctions this Thursday -Saturday- and tell him I sent you. He will give you an accurate appraisal (free if you go to his offices on Kearney Street). I have known Schuyler for about 30 years - he is one of the good guys. Good luck.
    Richard Frajola
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