1000 Stamp

How do I find the value of old postage stamps, both US and international (from 1880 to 1950)?

We have a stamp collecting book that my grandfather put together around WWII. It has stamps in it from about 1885 to 1945 (a few newer ones were added into the 1960s but the book was printed in the early 1940s). Some of the stamps are cancelled but most are not. We intend to keep it in the family (it has sentimental value for us), but would like to know if we have any treasures in it. We don't really want to pay for an appraisal. Does anyone know of a web site or book that would offer estimates of these old stamps. There are at least a thousand of them.

With at least 1000 stamps, you have a big job ahead to identify and price each one. If you can afford an expert appraisal, it will save you weeks of work and give you a more accurate result.

In any case, if you want to go ahead, then you will need to get hold of a stamp catalog that covers the countries in your collection. If you are in the US, then Scott and Stanley Gibbons are the two most commonly used catalogs in the English speaking world. If you are in the US, then that's what you're likely to be able to get a hold of.

You'll have to ask around. To buy a SG (Stanley Gibbons) costs hundreds of dollars, and I expect Scott will also be expensive. In Australia, most local libraries have a copy of SG. I don't know about the situation in the US. If you have no luck, you'll have to try and find a local stamp club that may be able to help.

Once you have a catalog, you have to go through the stamps one by one and identify them. If the collection was sorted by country and year, that should be straightforward, as that's how they're listed in the catalog. If the collection is laid out randomly, then you have a pretty big job ahead of you.

As you identify each stamp, the catalog will list a price. Actually, it will list two prices, one for stamps that are in mint condition (i.e., no postmark, no defect and original gum intact), and one for stamps in used condition (usually this means a light cancellation, and again no defects). Based on whether the stamp is mint or not, you can assess the price. If the stamp is damaged, then in most cases, it's not worth much.

Now a word of caution. The price in the catalog is what you'd expect to pay for a stamp if you bought it individually from a stamp dealer. This price factors in the overheads in running such a business. It is not the value of the stamp if you were to sell it. Catalogs have a minimum price. You need to subtract that price to get a rough idea of the value. This means that, yes, most stamps are worth practically zero. However, if you have a stamp with a high catalog price, then that gives you a better indication of the sale value.

Hope this helps.

PS: I happen to come across this web page by chance a minute ago. You might find it helpful. It was published by a respectable philatelic publisher.

http://www.linns.com/howto/refresher/worth_20030203/refreshercourse.asp?uID=#

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