Is SMQ pricing accurate & reliable?

I see such a large value difference between Scott VF and SMQ XF+. I am curious if many stamps actually sell for these inflated SMQ prices. Are these high values just a way to please the many dealers who use expertizing and grading services to continue using their services or do SMQ values reflect the actual market more accurately than Scott's valuation. I was wondering when did this SMQ valuation start?


  • 9 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • The first SMQ was published in 1996. Are the values any more reliable than the regular Scott values? The SMQ values are based on Scott values, which are outdated by at least 12 months at the time of publication. I think that, and the fact that most people don't price through the SMQ gives you your answer.
  • I tend to agree with you. I feel the Scott pricing is more in line with the actual transaction prices. There are some sellers when they list catalog value are using SMQ prices, which makes their listing that much more appealing to buyers.
  • edited September 2019 3 LikesVote Down
    If Scott "prices" are more in line with actual transaction prices, then why are almost all stamps sold for less than the stated Scott "prices"?
  • Because book and catalog prices usually far exceed the actual market value. I see many cars with a $4000 NADA retail value bring around a $1000 thru the car auctions. These price guides and catalogs aid the sellers by making the buyer feel he is getting a good deal.
  • edited October 2019 1 LikesVote Down
    It is erroneous to think of the Scott or any other catalogue value as the Market Value for any particular stamp. It is a very rare to see stamps sell for 100% or more of Scott value. When this does occur it generally happens with a hard to find stamp that is in excellent, well centered condition sold in a highly competitive auction. In fact, the first sentence in the Catalogue Value section of the Scott Catalogue states that their value is “an amount you could expect to pay for a stamp in the grade of Very Fine with no faults.” Note that Scott uses the word could rather that should and they expect you to get something near perfection for this price. How many of the stamps that you find out there meet the VF fault free criteria? Furthermore, it was not too long ago that the lowest price listed for a fault free VF used stamp in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers was 15 cents. The lowest price now found in the Specialized Catalogue is 25 cents. Ironically, the internet has turned every stamp collector into a potential casual seller and the actual prices realized for individual used stamps have decreased since Scott made this adjustment.
    What the Scott Catalogue allows you to do with reasonable accuracy is compare the relative value of one stamp issue to another. Scott numbers commanding high catalogue values today will generally realize high values in the future. Similarly, stamps you purchase for pennies today will not gain much if any value over time.
    I recommend that you collect whatever brings you joy and make your purchases based on comparison shopping rather that Scott value. It is extremely unlikely that gains from your investment in stamps will fund your retirement or your kid’s education --- but you will have something to show for it when you are done. The money you spend on a round of golf will bring you pleasure (or frustration). The same amount of money spent on stamps will also bring you pleasure but stamp collecting has the added benefit of retaining some monetary value.
    Think stamp collecting is a solitary pursuit? It doesn’t have to be. You can share your interest in stamps with other like-minded folks by joining a stamp club. Check the APS site for a club in your area. You may be able to trade your duplicates for stamps you need and make new friends in the process.
  • What might you imagine would be the impact in the stamp community if Scotts catalogues more accurately reflected prices realized from markets such as Ebay. auctions, or Hipstamps? Might it damage the perception of the health of the hobby?
  • Very well stated Bob, I agree. Ron, that might ruffle someone’s feathers. I don’t see anyone using the HipValue feature btw.
  • edited October 2019 0 LikesVote Down
    cinderella Revenue and Telegraph prices in catalogs that do exist generally price range their items extremely low. I often buy items on line and seeing the prices from recently created catalogs and then sell for 3-4x the listed prices sometimes 100x. the catalog prices are somewhat useless even as a percentage guide and rarity guide. Cinderella type material is also one of the biggest overpriced areas for some items though these generally are very few and by sellers that have not a clue as to value.

    Knowing the scarce items as opposed to catalog prices gives one a great advantage on scarce to rare material. The same applies to the persons buying.. most advanced buyers know this better than the dealers selling.. :-) one must guess that the catalogs generally create the low prices for postal stamps but be aware the few BOB stamps that are listed in some postal catalogs often fall into the cinderella category of twilite zone pricing rules. Sanabria is another interesting catalog for Airmails and airmail essays, local airmails not listed in Scott (last edition about 1960?). Hiscocks telegraph catalog of course is good but a few items have greatly changed in rarity due to finds or lack of and all of course are under priced due to age of last edition.
  • It's worthwhile to keep in mind that Scott lists prices for those stamps in VF condition (SMQ-80). The issues is that if a stamp is not certified, you're taking a chance on it having faults. Potential buyers that have no way to validate the condition of a rare stamp before purchase should be very wary of paying Scott/SMQ prices. Most graded stamps that are listed as "buy it now" are usually relatively close to Scott/SMQ prices, with the exception being a couple of dealers on this site that jack the prices of certified stamps ridiculously high. Unfortunately I learned all of these lessons the hard way.
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