Most modern stamps come with prices placed on the front of stamps, which tells buyers and collectors how much a stamp costs. We often hear that newer stamps can’t be sold for more than their face value, but is this true? Can you sell postage stamps for more than their face value?
You can sell postage stamps for more than face value, although not many will buy them if they’re not special. Official postal agencies can’t sell their stamps for more than face value, but retailers and dealers aren’t restricted in that way. Rare stamps are usually sold for more than face value.
Continue reading this article to determine whether you can up the price of your stamps regardless of their face value. I’ll also discuss how stamp prices are set and mention some things that affect stamp prices.
How Much Should You Sell Postage Stamps For?
Multiple factors can affect the final price of your stamps, like any other collectible piece, whether new or used. So, there isn’t a clear-cut price guide that takes all the factors into consideration.
That’s why stamp catalogs have become an unreliable source for evaluating stamp prices.
They only provide prices based on market trends isolated from any deeper context. For instance, many stamps only carry a sentimental price, meaning they’re pretty much worthless monetarily, but are aesthetically pleasing.
Advice: If you’re interested in selling or buying some stamps but are unsure which stamps are worthless, you should consult the following:
- A stamp dealer
- Online stamp forums and communities
- An auction house that deals in stamps
Selling Stamps for More Than Face Value: Is It Possible?
If you’re asking yourself this question, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn you’re not alone. It appears there’s a firm belief that selling stamps for more than face value’s somehow wrong, or even illegal.
This belief’s rooted in facts, but it’s not clear-cut. It’s true that stamps produced after the 1930s are considered modern, and because of constant price changes, governments and postal authorities decided to make everybody’s lives a bit easier.
So, they decided that the original face value imprinted on stamps since the 1930s would be valid forever. That means no inflation, and the stamp market can change a stamp’s price.
However, after you’ve learned this “fact,” you find yourself in a retail store and notice a stamp with a ¢55 face value, but the retailer tells you it’s worth a bit more than that. What happened there? Well, it’s where things get a bit complicated.
The face value rule applies only to official postal agencies and companies, such as USPS (in the US) or Royal Mail (in the UK). They still sell all their stamps that have a face value according to that price. Now, these companies also sell stamps to other retailers.
According to USPS’ Stamp on Consignment program, they sell stamps to:
- Drug stores
- Convenience stores
These retailers, and stamp collectors, aren’t legally bound by the 1930s face value rule. Indeed, the USPS made it clear they can’t control how other businesses and sellers set their prices.
So, what does all of this tells us? Stamp dealers and collectors can sell stamps, even those produced after the 1930s, for more than face value. More importantly, there’s nothing illegal about this practice.
Generally speaking, a stamp’s face value’s a good indicator of its worth for the most part. However, there are always some exceptions that affect stamp prices. So, let me mention a few situations which may determine how much you’ll sell your stamps for.
Old vs. New Stamps
The price you set for your stamps depends on whether they are old or new. Since modern stamps aren’t considered vintage, they’ll almost always be cheaper than older ones. That’s not to say every older stamp is worth a lot of money.
Usually, only some rare pieces can reach drastic pricetags.
A great example is Hawaiian Missionary stamps, one of the rarest stamps on the planet. These 19th-century stamps are incredibly difficult to find, and that’s why many collectors are interested in them. However, only a handful can pay for them.
On the other hand, new, high-quality mass-produced stamps aren’t that interesting to most collectors looking to make some money selling their stamps. They’re not vintage, and their face value’s not that high.
Bulk vs. Individual Stamps
Another important element that affects your final price is whether you’re selling them individually or in bulk. Many dealers and collectors often sell hundreds of their stamps in one go.
It’s much easier to deal with shipping when you’re selling them en masse rather than one by one.
Additionally, stamps sold in bulk are cheap ones that wouldn’t be worth almost anything if dealers sold them individually. That is, they’re usually worth even less than their face value. Some rarer stamps can be worth more than their face value because there aren’t many worldwide.
There’s even a name for countless stamps collected from various letters and clippings, which are then sold in huge quantities—kiloware. Regarding the price of kiloware stamps, there’s no rule for setting the price, as they can range anywhere from $10 to around $60.
As you can see, they’re not expensive, and the price depends mainly on the stamps’ condition.
The most desirable “stamp set” for collectors is stamp sheets that lie between hundreds of stamps in bulk and individual stamps. Collectors love stamp sheets because they can pick and choose the best stamp from the sample.
Plus, the margins are still intact with stamps that come in sheets.
Places Where You Sell Stamps Matter
When you sell some stamps from your collection, choosing the appropriate place to sell them is highly important.
Depending on the stamps you plan on selling, you can sell to the following:
- Other collectors
- Professional stamp dealers
- Auction houses
Most, if not all, prestigious auction houses and dealers dealing with stamps aren’t interested in stamps that aren’t rare or vintage. Plus, they’ll lose interest quickly if a stamp’s badly canceled, not to mention their disinterest in stamps produced after the 1930s that are usually characterized by their face values.
However, many less prestigious stamp dealers will look at any stamp you bring them. They’ll usually offer the face value price or less than that if a stamp isn’t even slightly rare.
Today, the selling business has moved to the virtual world, and as a result, countless stamp collecting and selling forums and groups are dedicated to discussing and buying all kinds of stamps.
Reaching out to these communities is a great option next to those more traditional ones from above. You should check out my other article highlighting the best places to sell a stamp collection. It will help you find the perfect platform, forum, or group where you can get the best deal for your stamps: 13 Best Places to Sell a Stamp Collection
Things That Affect the Price of Stamps
So let’s say you have a rare stamp, and you’re planning on selling it for more than face value. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, and in some situations, even if a stamp’s worth more than its face value presents, it still might have some characteristic that devalues it.
Some of those characteristics which drive stamp prices down are:
- The year when the stamp appeared: Modern stamps aren’t usually worth much. Often, they’re sold for less than their face value. Old stamps are usually sold over their face value. The older a stamp, the higher the price, although this isn’t a given.
- The number of the same stamps: Even those stamps made after the 1930s can be worth much more than their face value if they’re limited in number, which is connected with the rarity of a stamp. The face value doesn’t play a large part in these stamps.
- Cancelation mark: These are usually postmarks that decrease a stamp’s price. Most collectors are interested more in mint stamps. However, if cancelation doesn’t ruin a rare stamp, it’ll usually be worth more than its face value.
- A stamp’s condition: Even a highly-valued stamp can become almost worthless if it’s badly damaged. Stamps should have excellent margins, visible original color, and no creases.
Regarding stamps’ condition, some errors are welcomed on stamps since they can increase a price dramatically, surpassing the face value.
An excellent example is the Inverted Jenny stamp, whose face value was only ¢24. Because of the factory error whereby the plain depicted was mistakenly inverted, the stamp can reach the price tag of around $100,000 today.
For more information, check out my article detailing how to figure out the right time to sell a stamp collection: Is It a Good Time to Sell Stamps? Here’s How to Know
It’s a common misconception you can’t sell stamps for more than their face value. That rule applies to postal companies, like USPS, whereby they must sell stamps made after the 1930s at face value or less than that, but not more. Retailers and dealers can sell stamps for whatever price they think is best.
Even though you can sell stamps for more than face value, it usually wouldn’t be wise since people would buy them at their local post offices. Dealers and collectors sell stamps for more than face value if they’re rare pieces.