How do I find out if these Japanese stamps are worth anything?
November 13, 2017 9:15 PM   Subscribe

My grandfather-in-law was given these Japanese stamps by a colleague a few decades ago. We've framed them and used them as wall hangings. We're ready to toss them, but wanted to check whether they might be valuable.

Gentle reader, do you know anything about Japanese stamps? Or can you point me in the direction of someone who would?
posted by pompelmo to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
I don't know anything about stamps, but it's probably worth running them past a philatelist before you toss them just in case they think they're a neat wall hanging as well. This page has stamp dealers in SF, maybe one of them is convenient for you?
posted by sldownard at 10:25 PM on November 13, 2017

IANAPhilatelist, but 60 Yen was the rate for a class of mail called "mini-letter" in the 1980s, according to some online Q&As.

After more googling: I think I found your stamps! Take a look at this blog:
They were part of series called "Oku no Hosomichi" issued starting in 1987. I think yours are part of "Collection 2" (scroll down to the second pair of pics on that link).

I have no idea whether they're "collectible" grade, but if they haven't been used/cancelled, presumably they can still be used for sending mail. Just today I received a stamped package from Japan, and people still use stamps a lot (there are lots of card-sending customs in Japan). If it turns out they're not heirloom $$$, perhaps you could give/mail them to someone who could use them--perhaps a MeFi expat there? I know there's some kind of MeFi holiday card exchange going on, so it might also be fun to participate and toss in the stamps as a bonus surprise...
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 10:43 PM on November 13, 2017

The second picture is upside down, and instead of NIPPON it says NIppON under the number value, so that's weird-ish.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:48 PM on November 13, 2017

Duh, nevermind the NIppON thing, upside down messed with me too much.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:52 PM on November 13, 2017

Upon further googling:
-The subject matter was to commemorate the 300th anniversary of a masterpiece by the poet Matsuo Bashou (or at least the travels that inspired his poems in Oku no Hosomichi).
-There are some online auction pages selling them for 75 Yen per stamp or up to around 1800 Yen per sheet for other designs in the same series, though I also saw a philately blog that cites catalog prices of 180-240 Yen per 120 Yen (face value) of these stamps and more value for a collection of the entire series or ones with a fluke error such as missing perforation.

More ideas: Do you know anyone who does Etsy-type things? Perhaps you could either sell the stamps as vintage materials or turn them into crafts materials (jewelry, stationery, collages, magnets...).
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 11:32 PM on November 13, 2017

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