By Robert Taylor
If you are an experienced stamp collector, always try to find time to advise your family members about the contents of your collection. Understanding a stamp collection can be rather difficult for the spouse, children or siblings that have no stamp collecting experience.
The best way is to write out what your collection contains in summary form. Some samples can be as follows:
Stamp albums, stock books, glassines (see through envelopes) by country, mint sheets, yearly mint set books, catalog file tray contents, etc. Then, the hardest thing to do next is to come up with some kind of “approximate” value for each category. That may prove difficult since stamp valuations can vary widely from what’s published in modern stamp catalogs and what the real selling value is in today’s market.
As a collector, your best bet to value your collection at about 15-20% of its catalog price. Not exciting for the collector but that is the real world today. Catalog prices for a stamp are based on a near perfect condition regarding a stamp. From near perfect, it’s a downward spiral to arrive at a price. Below is an example of a stamp I was monitoring to illustrate how various nuances can really affect a stamp’s value.
I was watching a Zachary Taylor mint (unused) stamp produced in 1875 that was for sale recently on a stamp website. Not a very common stamp especially in mint condition. It has a Scott Catalog value of $750.00 for a near perfect specimen. However, it was very clear the stamp had issues and each issue drops the selling price of the stamp. I hope the two photos with this article will give you some idea what we stamp people have to deal with in collection evaluations.
The obverse of the stamp indicates “short” perforations at the top left and bottom right. The image itself is not centered but is shifted towards the bottom. The color is good and not faded. The reverse of the stamp reflects no original gum. This stamp was issued with gum. Over the years, someone soaked this stamp (probably off an envelope) when they noticed it was not cancelled by the post office. There is also a large hinge remnant remaining on the stamp. Obviously then, this stamp was originally mounted with the hinge in a U.S. album then removed. Finally, at the bottom of the reverse on this stamp, there appears to be what we call “thins” or light damage of some kind.
What the heck does all that mean? Remember, this stamp in near perfect condition, had a catalog value of $750.00. This stamp as is, actually sold for $71.00 or about 10% of its catalog value. Quite a departure from the catalog value but certainly, not unusual.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, mint stamps from 1935 to 2016 are what we call “postage” because they just do not have collector appeal. Why? Because most collectors already have those stamps. Mint stamps from 1930 and older can have value but it is a case by case basis. The general rule is, the older the better for a chance to have value. I have stamps from the 1870’s that I give away because they are so common thus, no value. I also have stamps from the 1870’s that have excellent value. Often times, the deciding factor is condition and how many of them have survived over the years.
Appraising stamp collections for an appraiser such as myself can be very daunting. Many “collections” are not necessarily collections but are vast accumulations of stamps in all matter of disarray and condition.
Foreign stamps can have value or often times, no value. Again, the older the better. Foreign countries that generally have some value are stamps from the 1840’s to the 1870’s with countries besides the U.S. such as Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France and some sections of Italy.
For additional information, email Robert Taylor at email@example.com.