selling stamp collections

The question is : what is the best way to sell off a large collection?
I have collected stamps since I was a kid. I am now old.(68). It is time to start selling off my collections.
For one thing, my (younger) wife has a fear of being saddled with the tedious job of selling off something she has little knowledge (or love) for.
I've seen where some stamp albums and collections are sold through dealers on ebay (i,e, NYStamps, PAVstamps, etc) but at mere fractions of their value. I don't want to just give away collections that are sentimental to me and have given me years of pleasure.
I want to start selling off my foreign collections first; and try to hold my US collections awhile longer (in hopes that the children would have an interest)
Like most collections, I have many albums (specialty and world-wide) filled with common stamps of average condition; interspersed with nicer vintage stamps with good 'book value'.
I have at least 30 Foreign collections, and 10 albums related to U.S.
Who can offer me sound advice?


  • 16 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I have the same problem Mike....... and I am older then you - "One Foot in the Grave"! I have the disadvantage of being in Australia and not much chance of selling anyway - it is sad that it is a "dying art"!! I have had a great time being a collector and as you say - years of pleasure. Look forward to some answers too!
  • edited March 25 1 LikesVote Down
    Have a look at the helpful suggestions under the topic "Thousands of Scott stamps" on this page.
  • Have read that but my biggest problem is I am in Queensland, Australia! Hard to find a stamp dealer or anything. I thave 2 options sell them slowly if at all on various stamp sites or leave them to the kids to do whatever......I won't be around if they continue with collecting or whatever! Stamp collecting have been GREAT for me and I guess that is whar matters!
  • Another option is to contact one of the large stamp houses such as Mystic Stamp Co. or perhaps a similar organization in Australia. In any case, good luck!
  • Australia does have a few stamp auction houses, but there have been several spectacular bankruptcies, so consign with care. For the OP who I assume is in the US there are many reputable auction houses that one can consign to, but the net result may be no larger than the online outlets like NY stamps. If the OP is in area that has regular stamp shows the collections could always be offered there. The American Stamp Dealers Association and the American Philatelic Society have dealer members that may be interested in outright purchase.
    To me 68 is still fairly young, but I am also seeing that I can not go one forever. Mrs Fatdane has told me that she hopes she takes the final journey 1st so she won't have to look after the stamps. I have cut back on the buying and am trying to get my 3 rooms better organized so if something does happen it will not be complete chaos. Our plan was to call the local stamp auction house, but he went and retired so that eliminates that. I hope to keep selling here until the day before I get cremated, and I hope that is many years down the road.
  • You might also try contacting Australian HipStamp dealers. It would be simple enough, then, for you to export your listings, and for that dealer to upload that file - a quick and painless way for that dealer to increase their inventory.
  • Mike - no way are you an old codger yet - 68 in still young in this day and age. I do see however that you have a difficult decision to make. Many of the replies you will get here will be from dealers and of course they/me want to buy their stock as cheap as possible to maximise profits.

    when I buy stamps at a "General" Sale Auction House/Sale Room I usually pay around 1% to 4% of the catalogue price - so that would not be a good location to sell your collection.

    At an "Antiques & Collectables" Sale Auction House I usually pay Between 1% and 8% of catalogue - so still not much better.

    With a "Specialist Stamps" Auction House I generally have to pay between 5% to 25% of the catalogue price - so that appears to be the best option for selling out of these three?

    You no doubt have had many years of pleasure amassing your collection. I am sure that you are a realist and know that many of your more common stamps will be worth very little while rarer one will command much more. You have to decide do I sell the more common ones first and keep the more valuable ones for my family or do the reverse? If you sell the scarcer ones now yourself through this site or ebay then at least you will get the price that you want and what they are worth to other collectors on the market.

    To be quite honest I am glad that I was not in this game in the 1960's and 1970's when every town in England had 2 or 3 Stamp Shops and collector or family would take a collection there with a catalogue value of £5,000 only to be offered £50/£75 - how disappointing that must of been? Those days are long gone and you have several options open to you. Good Luck!

  • edited March 26 4 LikesVote Down
    Well you can always sell to collectors who can be found online but it's a lot of work, keep them for future generations to enjoy, or dump them to a dealer who most likely will just try to pluck the best stamps and flip the rest. The best option is finding a new collector in the family or close by who wants to start the wonderful hobby. Probably the worst option is just selling to a dealer for pennies on the dollar as Mike alluded to because it's like sitting down at a beautiful spot on the shoreline to eat a delicious lunch and having a fat seagull swoop down and take the whole thing in one bite. Post some pictures online and or at Hipstamp there are many buyers who might make you a reasonable offer although the hard part is separating sentimental value with realistic market prices and the time it will take someone to sort an unsorted mass of stamps. One thing is for sure, collectors pay premium for organized stamps which have been labeled, sorted, and checked out properly because they value their time. Most collections are not well organized. Take your time, make the best decision for you, and be happy with all the joy you have received through the process. Think about how much harder it would be if you possessed an inverted jenny C3a.
  • You could opt for a middle-ground if you're thinking of selling your stamps here. At one end of the spectrum is selling off entire collections at a time. Upside: its quick and easy; downside: much lower realizations. At the other end of the spectrum: selling individual stamps. Upside: greater realization; downside: lots (!) of work.

    A middle ground to consider would be breaking up your collections into individual countries and/or eras and selling them that way. An example would be pulling all the pages for, say, Gibraltar, and selling them as a single lot (with any really high catalogue stamps pulled and sold individually). Lots such as these seem to do really well at many auction houses, such as Sparks Auctions in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Hi,first you are not old at 68,86 yes,selling on internet sites takes a lot of time,You need a scanner & catalogues & not just simpIified.I list a lot (100 a week) on 3 sites & I work on it every day my hourly rate $1 to $3 /hour,honest!!!!.No one collects in my family so in my will all stamps will go to a dealer & the proceeds go to a childrens hospital.Could be up to $40,000 at least the money raised will do some good.You say that dealers on line are selling collections cheap.Well they will be making 40-50% on those collections.Your collections may sell for 10-20% no more unless they are superb.
    Good luck
  • Mike give yourself a raise preferably enough for a cup of coffee.
  • Andrew I am not in it for the money I just enjoy doing it plus when I started in 2002 on fee bay I decided to sell to buyers who do not have "deep pockets",I continue to do so.
  • I understand as a lifelong collector myself but my point was don't cut yourself short especially your time and effort.
  • I know one auction house I trust in US - Rasdale out of Chicago, Ill Email me and I will get phone number.
  • edited April 14 3 LikesVote Down
    As life long collectors we charish our stamps. They bring us joy and fascination. We hope we can pass on the love and experience to our family. Without being cruel, the world has changed. 95 percent of the younger generation will quickly liquidate any collection into cash ASAP. My suggestion is keep a part of your collection that brings you the most joy. When you are ready, liquidate the rest and enjoy the cash while you are alive. In all likelihood, your kids will do just that. It's painful, and sad but true. I'm in the same situation.
  • Over the past several years, I have been selling my accumulation of stamps piecemeal. In the process of doing that, I've spent more time and learned more about those stamps than I ever learned while I was collecting. That process also allows me a luxury that I suspect most dealers miss. I have encountered hundreds of collectors and have enjoyed helping them fill a few spaces in their collections. It's time consuming and not very rewarding financially, but it's personal for me and it's always good to know that I've been able to help many others build their own collections. I miss having my stamps, but I still have the digital images of them and the knowledge that those stamps are now contributing to the enjoyment of many other collectors.
Sign In or Register to comment.