Many stamp collectors’ primary aim’s to sell their collection at some point. However, they must keep an eye on the market and the level of inflation to make a significant profit. So, when is the best time to sell stamps, and how to know?
It’s a good time to sell stamps because the stamp markets seem favorable now but might start weakening in future years. Also, some countries, such as China, have seen a growing interest in stamp collections. Technology plays a role since it makes it easier to find and sell stamps.
In this article, I’ll discuss the best time to sell stamps and mention the most critical factors affecting stamp prices. I’ll also mention why you should consider selling your collection and how to do just that in the best way possible.
Why You Should Consider Selling Stamps
Following various stamp market predictions can be a tedious way to spend your time.
Add to that contradicting opinions you read or hear about it, and you’re left confused and wondering: “Should I sell my stamps or keep them as long as I can?” Let’s consider a few reasons you might want to sell your stamps.
There’s a Growing Interest in Stamp Collecting in Some Countries
You’ll often hear stamp collecting’s a dying breed and people aren’t interested in spending hours a day looking for those weirdly-shaped pieces of paper we call stamps.
While that might be true for the Western hemisphere, plenty of other countries (especially the Eastern hemisphere) are just starting to get into the whole stamp-collecting adventure.
Some countries with a growing interest in stamps and stamp collecting include the following.
Part of the reason for this new interest in these countries is the growing middle class which has time and money to spend on new entertainment and hobbies.
Collecting stamps is a sign of newly acquired status for many. Others, on the other hand, simply enjoy the experience of this hobby.
These countries are an entirely new market for selling stamps—why not use it? As new countries develop economically, new selling possibilities, including selling stamps, will create fertile ground to collect and sell stamps.
Nowadays, it’s extremely easy to sell stamps. You can check out my article on best places to sell a stamp collection for more information: 13 Best Places to Sell a Stamp Collection
The Market’s Looking Good
What stamp dealers always crave for’s a strong stamp market, which means collectors are eager to buy rare and expensive stamps. Thankfully, the stamp market’s looking good and is slowly predicted to rise in future years. People are eager to start buying stamps.
Opposite to this is a weak stamp market which stifles stamp prices. Weak markets are always part of economic inflation, during which prices go up, and people choose to buy fewer things. In those situations, consumers buy important things, like food or gas. They don’t want to spend money on things like stamps.
For instance, if you bought a stamp in the 1980s for $20 (a collectible piece), the price for an identical stamp nowadays would be around $70. More importantly, as time moves on, prices of everything go steadily up.
So, selling stamps isn’t the worst idea because stamp prices are still stable—for most stamps. In the future, the price will inevitably go up for more valuable stamps or drastically down for inexpensive stamps.
Technology Drives Stamp Prices Up
Another important reason why you might consider selling stamps is, ironically, because of technology. The argument that became stale in the stamp-collecting world is that technology’s to blame for the diminishing popularity of stamp collecting.
Although there’s some truth to that argument, it’s not clear-cut like that. The rise of technology means that the digital world slowly replaces the physical one—where stamps belong. However, thanks to technology, stamp collecting’s become more popular in some sense.
Firstly, stamps are sold and delivered more quickly through technology. Also, avid stamp collectors can make and participate in many forums and groups dedicated to stamps. Finally, most organizations and dealers have websites to sell their stamps.
This means rare and valuable stamps are easier to find (if available) than before. Because of this stamp availability, many stamp collectors and dealers do their work primarily online. This ease inevitably drives stamp prices up because there’s a need for such a market.
Rare Stamps Are Becoming Hard To Find
Although technology plays an important aspect in stamp collecting and selling, one thing even technology can’t help much is rare stamps. The most sought-after stamps are rare, usually a few hundred years old.
Indeed they’re so popular precisely because it’s hard to find one. Because of that, they’re usually worth anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to millions. Just look at the rarest of all—The British Guiana (One-Cent Black on Magenta), which sold for a staggering $9,480,000 in the US!
Other rare stamps aren’t worth that much because they’re not as rare; still, they can reach the price tag only a few dedicated collectors can afford.
The growing problem with rare stamps is that they’re dwindling before our eyes. This is a problem with many other collections. There are just fewer rare stamps in the world. Well, technically, they’re still here, but they’re disappearing from the market.
Many private collectors purchase these stamps and decide to keep them for their collection. That’s fair game, but the market’s craving those rare stamps. If you’re a stamp seller, that’s a good thing for you.
If you’ve collected a few rare stamps over the years (it doesn’t have to be the British Guiana), you should consider selling some of them.
As the years go by, rare stamps will no longer be part of the market, and new “rare” stamps produced later will replace them.
Newer Generations Won’t Be Interested in Stamps in the Future
There are new generations of people who’ve never seen a stamp and never used one. I don’t even need to go into the stamp-collecting side of the equation.
Although there are some positive trends in stamp collecting from new growing economies, tech-generations still don’t see any point in this beautiful hobby. They don’t have that much patience with the whole process of this collection. After all, they grew up in front of a computer, so they’re used to a fast-paced life.
On top of that, many don’t know they can invest in stamps and generate some money by selling them. They don’t realize you can sell rare stamps like vintage cars or watches. That’s because stamps are somehow considered an old-people hobby.
This trend doesn’t seem to change in the near future. New generations would rather do something else—especially technology-wise—than start a stamp collection, even when they grow older.
So, this is a good reason to consider selling your stamps because, in a few years, you might not have an interested buyer.
That’s not to say, stamp dealers, collectors, and businesses don’t try to adopt the technology to their advantage. Take, for example, the UK’s Royal Mail, which added a QR code to their stamps to attract new customers who can use technology.
I have an in-depth article discussing all the details about stamps with QR codes. You can check it out if you want more information on which companies are doing this, why they are doing this, and potential use cases: Why Do Some Stamps Have a QR Code?
Factors That Affect Stamp Prices
Like with any other collection, stamps aren’t evaluated in a vacuum. The final price for a stamp depends on many factors. Furthermore, those prices inevitably affect the stamp market and the “sellability” of your stamps.
Stamp collectors must know how to recognize these factors since that could determine how profitable your stamp-selling endeavor might be.
The Quality of Stamps
Stamps’ prices largely depend on their quality. You can have a valuable stamp, but the value drastically decreases if it’s in bad shape. That’s not to say new stamps are worth more than older ones. The point is to collect vintage stamps that have stood the test of time.
Here are some factors that decrease a stamp’s price quality-wise.
- Perforations are damaged: Perforations on stamps should be intact or at least mostly present. The better the margin, the higher in value a stamp is. Stamps are always removed from an envelope gently and in water so as not to damage perforations.
- Original colors faded away: When original colors fade away from a stamp, it signifies possible mistreatment. It could mean there was a lot of moisture in the air where stamps were kept. If a stamp has original vibrant colors, the price goes up.
- The cancelation mark covers the design: Used stamps contain cancelation marks, which means they were used. However, when cancelation covers the central part of a stamp, that can decrease the price if it covers important details on the stamp.
- There are creases: You should keep stamps as flat as possible, so there aren’t any creases or curls. These are another sign of mistreatment because moisture in the air can cause stamps to curl over time.
Lastly, the most desired vintage stamps are mint stamps. That means they were never used and didn’t have a cancelation mark. So, if you have a stamp in great condition, and it’s a mint—your chances of making a pretty penny from selling that stamp increase drastically.
The Quality of Your Stamp Collection
When it comes to selling stamps, there are two types of stamp collectors.
- Collectors who sell individual stamps
- Collectors who sell complete collections
This is a general distinction, but it’s a common one. Once you move to more specific characteristics of these two types, you see other differing qualities in each group.
Firstly, collectors who sell individual stamps usually sell in the following ways.
- In bulk (kiloware)
- One stamp at a time
Stamps sold in bulk are inexpensive—some would say even worthless. You might find three valuable stamps in a bundle of three hundred.
Collectors sell highly valuable and rarer stamps individually because they can make more money by selling one such stamp rather than a bulk of inexpensive ones.
On the other hand, collectors also sell entire collections. It’s a common way to make large amounts of money. However, you can do this only if you have a collection with truly valuable stamps. Your collection will be worthless if it’s filled with used mass-produced stamps.
Stamp collectors who sell entire stamp collections at once do the following.
- Keep a record of their stamps through names and reference numbers.
- Have different stamp albums for different types of stamps.
- Keep their stamp albums in an optimal location (away from moisture and insects).
Trends in the Stamp Market
External factors, such as the following, dictate the stamp prices.
- Economic crises
- Investment potential
- Global stamp markets
- Other growing markets
Like any other market, the stamp market often goes through ups and downs, and predictions are often contradictory.
However, stamp collectors, especially those who sell their stamps, need to analyze the market regularly to know when it’s best to sell their pieces. It’s a risky game, but experienced collectors usually know the trends in the market.
The Number of Stamps in the Circulation
If some stamps were mass-produced, chances are they’ll be pretty much worthless. Even if you have an older mint stamp, you still might make no money if it isn’t rare.
That’s why only rare stamps are worth something in the long run. New stamps are readily available to everyone, so they’re worthless in terms of investment potential. Only those stamps produced sometime in the past in limited numbers are worth the most.
Even those mass-produced stamps, if only a few survive today, still might reach high price tags.
How To Successfully Sell Your Stamps
Of course, deciding to sell your stamps and doing it is easier said than done. There are some important steps you should follow to sell your stamps successfully.
1. Get Your Stamps Appraised More Than Once
Many collectors usually appraise their stamps once at some point, and that’s it. That’s more common nowadays when collectors can visit many forums and sites to check stamp prices.
However, you should always have a professional appraise your stamps. Professionals who can appraise stamps include the following.
- Stamp dealers
- Auction houses
- Stamp experts
More importantly, you should never have your stamp appraised by only one dealer. Always visit two stamp dealers, at least, though the more you visit, the better. That way, you’ll get the most objective estimate. Plus, you can choose the mid-point as the most probable price for your stamps.
You should have your stamps appraised every few years, especially before selling them. That’s because prices change over time.
Lastly, bring your whole collection when you appraise your stamps. It’s much better for a stamp dealer to appraise your entire collection rather than only a few stamps. That’ll provide a better context for a stamp dealer who’ll give you a more accurate price.
2. Have a Complete Collection Based on One Theme
There’s nothing better for a stamp collector who wants to sell their collection than any of the following.
- A complete collection
- A stamp collection based on only one theme
If you can achieve these two aspects, you’ve struck gold—you’ll easily sell your collection. That’s because it’s extremely difficult to achieve these two since it takes years, energy, and money to have a complete collection of US stamps, for example.
Some popular themes when collecting stamps include the following.
- Historical figures
According to a Forbes article, the USA is the most popular country collected by value, followed by China.
3. Sell Valuable Stamps To Dealers and Auction Houses
Most stamp dealers and auction houses that trade in stamps won’t buy a stamp if it isn’t rare or valuable. They’re primarily business-driven and simply want to make money selling stamps. Therefore, the rarer a stamp, the more money they’ll make.
If you have a few valuable stamps, it might be a good idea to sell them to stamp dealers or an auction house. With auction houses, you could make more money than you thought.
4. Sell Inexpensive Stamps Online
Most stamp collectors don’t own rare stamps worth a few hundred thousand dollars. That’s why they mostly sell their cheaper stamps online. There are many sites, like eBay or Amazon, where you can sell your stamps quickly and make a few bucks. You can even sell them in bulk, saving you time and energy.
Deciding when to sell stamps depends on many factors. However, now’s a good time to sell stamps because there’s a new market, and it’s stable and growing. Moreover, rare stamps are slowly disappearing in private collections, making them more valuable.
Additionally, younger generations might not be as interested in buying stamps in the future, so if you have rare stamps, this is a good time to get your money’s worth.