How to Sell a Stamp Collection

Whether it’s an inherited fortune or you’re a dedicated collector, selling a stamp collection could be overwhelming.
60 million stamp collectors worldwide is a large market to deal with. Hence, you’ll find costs starting from a few bucks to over 1,000,000 for the rare hidden gems.
So, to save you time and effort, we’ll provide a full-on guide on how to sell your stamp collection in this article.

Step 1: Assemble Your Collection

To ensure you get the utmost profit out of your collection, you need to organize it in a catchy manner that highlights your valuable possessions and prevents damage. Therefore, the first thing to do is create categories for your stamps based on issue year, issue country, or theme.
Next, you need to fixate them to a pre-printed stamp album.
Some albums need hinges to fixate the stamp, while others have a pre-cut pocket mount to place your stamp. However, the mostly used type is the hingeless album because it won’t deteriorate or blemish the stamp gum.
Last but not least, try not to clean the stamps or remove them from an envelope without expert help.

Step 2: Get an Appraisal for Your Collection

Before dashing over to sell your collection, it’s pivotal to assess its real value by getting an appraisal.
On your side, this will aid you to make the right selling decision and avoid forgeries. On the buyer’s side, this proves the authenticity and increases the credibility of your collection.
Resources you can use to find the actual value of your collection include:
  • Stamp catalogs
  • Printed references
  • Identification books
  • The Gibbons marketplace online
  • StampWorld online catalog
  • Stamp ID pro
The problem you might face with the above resources is that they tend to assign an over-optimistic price. These resources don’t take into account the actual condition of the stamp, which might create a gap between the estimated price and the market value.
Getting a professional valuation from a philatelic field expert would be the final word call on the value of your collection. The appraiser will then examine the stamps in your collection and base their value on the following factors.
  • The Date of Issue
As an archeologist would be over the roof to discover a collection of 100-million-year-old bones, a stamp collector would feel the same about old stamps.
In most cases, you can get a pricey offer for stamps issued before 1960 because the production was limited back then. After that year, the post office started producing stamps at higher rates.
  • Gumming
Mint stamps that still preserve their pristine gum at the rear will be valued higher than stamps that have blemished or used gum.
The practice of re-gumming is used to sell old stamps at the premium prices of mint stamps. Normally, you can’t sell a re-gummed stamp without clear disclosure of its current condition.
  • Hinge Mounting
The hinge is a small transparent piece of paper that you use to affix a stamp onto the album pages.
The problem with hinges is that they blemish the original gum of the stamp. If you attempt to remove the hinges, you might end up deteriorating the stamp and reducing its value.
  • Rare Errors
Stamps with errors are rare, and they’re strongly coveted by collectors, which highly boosts their market value. Errors include mistakes in designing, engraving, perforation, or coloring.
Inverted Jenny, a post-war aviation stamp depicting Curtiss JN-4 that dates back to May 10, 1918, is the foremost notable error in American philately. It was sold out for over $1,300,000 in 2016.
  • Centering
One of the key factors that verify the stamp’s value is how well the design fits into the edges and perforations. A stamp with a design that’s well-centered within four equal margins can be sold for much more than one that’s notably off-center.
A jumbo margin stamp is a term for stamps with extra margin parts that were ripped from the adjacent stamps. If you have this type of stamp, you can expect the selling price to rise to double!
  • General Condition
Stamps free from creases, tears, changed gum color, or faint colors have a higher value.
Luckily, if your stamp has any of the mentioned flaws, repair methods do exist.
For example, creases could be ironed out by an expert. However, if you choose to repair any of your stamps, you should provide a clear disclosure about their condition.
Now that you know the grading criteria, we will focus on where to get a stamp appraisal. Below are the top-trusted institutions that offer appraisal services:
  • The American Philatelic Society
  • The American Stamp Dealers Association
  • Local Stamp Collectors’ Clubs
As for cost, the appraisal fee will most likely range anywhere between $75 to $250 per hour.

Step 3: Choose Your Market

Once you get your appraisal, it’s time to explore the available selling choices and check them for pros and cons.
We gathered the most common market choices to guide you to what suits you best.
  • Philately Auctions
If your collection is scarce, philately auction houses can be your most appropriate choice. This is because they offer unrivaled exposure to the philatelic society and higher prices based on bidders’ offers.
Dealing with an auction house also eliminates the burden of organizational hassle.
Despite that, you should know the drawbacks of philately auctions, which include long waiting lists and the uncertainty of the final selling price.
Also, the house’s commission will be cut down from the ultimate selling price.
  • Private Treaty Sale
This is very similar to dealing with an auction house, except, in this case, you’re selling your collection to the auction house itself with the advantage of knowing the definitive final price.
However, the price you get is based on the market status quo. So, there’s a chance you might get underpriced.
  • Stamp Societies
The American Stamp Dealers Association, American Philatelic Society, and many more institutions offer varied options to let you sell your collection of stamps. Their selling options include only-members deals and sales books.
If you settle on using the sales books, you’ll need to set a descriptive listing and pricing for the stamps and mail it to the institution.
One of the good things about stamp societies is that your buyer's list will include genuine, dedicated philatelic members. Moreover, if anything goes wrong with the deal, they offer you recourse.
The con here would probably be the limited amount of offers that you might receive.
  • Philatelic Exhibitions
Exhibitions will offer you the great opportunity of meeting philately enthusiasts from all around.But unfortunately, exhibitions aren’t that exclusive, which means many collectors, dealers, and amateurs will be there. You must check every offer you receive for its validity to avoid forgeries.


If you’re still wondering how to sell a stamp collection, here’s the plan:
Start by organizing your collection in the most eye-pleasing way. Then, it’ll be time to get an estimate of what your stamps are worth through an appraisal. After that, you should choose your best-fitting market accordingly and review the various offers you receive. Eventually, you should be ready to make the most profitable decision.
Related Articles:
  • Stamp Collecting for Beginners