Where can I sell a stamp collection without getting ripped off?
June 9, 2010 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a large stamp collection that has postage stamps from around 1920 or so through the present (mostly 1920s through 1950s), mostly U.S. but some foreign as well. Most stamps came off mail and are in an album. Some have postmarks, some don't. I live in Boston and would like to take the collection in person to a dealer who won't rip me off, but I'm open to other alternatives too.
posted by scottso17 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are they organized in some fashion? It's not very useful to take a large amount of stamps from various countries and years to a dealer, as it takes a lot of effort for them to go through them. Be sure to categorize them by country and year first, and that they are in a nice presentable condition (in stamp mounts in an album).

It might be more fruitful for you to start dividing them up, and getting an idea of the cost of them. There are lots of places that will give you general pricing on stamps, and you can order catalogs as well. You won't know if a dealer is ripping you off unless you have a general idea of the value of your stamps.

You may also be looking for an appraiser, instead, but for the US stamps, at least, you should be able to get a good understanding of their value just through your own research.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:02 PM on June 9, 2010

Best answer: The Spellman Museum at Regis College is Weston does Collection Evaluations for $30 and can help you decide what you want to do with your stamps.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:21 PM on June 9, 2010

Response by poster: Jabberjaw: They are mostly organized in a stamp album, but the rest are loose. Thanks for the suggestion to organize them - I can try that to the best of my ability!
posted by scottso17 at 12:24 PM on June 9, 2010

My father had a great stampt collection, mostly of uncancelled stamps from between 1910 - 1930, and most of them from now-disappeared states (though some of those states reappeared later!) A great collection, which was the envy of fellow stamp collectors in Sarajevo. An album of his "best" (rarest and most interesting) stamps came with me to America.

I'm sad to say that his collection, which would have been quite valuable in America two or three decades ago, is now worth so little as to make selling it almost pointless. It's a dying hobby, and loads of people are selling off the collections of older relatives on eBay for a tiny fraction of their previous value. So don't get your hopes up. My advice would be to buy a simple catalog which shows valuations of US stamps, learn how to grade them according to the book's guidelines, and then see what some of the more valuable ones actually go for on eBay.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:36 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some (many) stamps are worth less than their original value. Just use 'eem.
posted by k8t at 11:34 PM on June 9, 2010

My father was a professional philatelist for a while. MeFi mail me and I'll get you in touch with him.
posted by oonh at 2:04 AM on June 10, 2010

Response by poster: Update: After sorting through the collection last night, I underestimated how many international stamps there are. Easily 80% the collection is international, spanning about 40 countries. Some stamps are sorted into envelopes by country and others are in a stamp album, also sorted by country.

I also found some wax paper packets containing stamps that seemed to be bulk mixtures of stamps that may have been purchased that way.

Thanks again for your advice, everyone.
posted by scottso17 at 7:06 AM on June 10, 2010

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