Selling stamps and stamp collections begins with accurate appraisal to determine value. Catalogs and guides are available to help owners determine an average price for each stamp, or they may be taken to a reputable dealer or appraiser. Once the owner has an idea of the collection's worth, a venue must be selected for selling stamps, either face to face or online.
Evaluation of stamp collections can be a tricky business even for dedicated hobbyists, and when collectors pass on these collections, the new owners often have no idea of the actual value. The first step in selling stamps that were inherited or handed down is an accurate appraisal. Those not involved in stamp collecting often imagine these collections as small fortunes. For most hobbyists, the true worth of a collection is in the entertainment it brings, and most stamps have very little monetary value. Well mounted and annotated collections, where obvious care and effort was involved, are most likely to contain valuable stamps worth selling.
Serious collectors will usually also own some literature to help them place a value on their stamps. These books may also be used to appraise a collection, though typically the prices listed refer to stamps in mint condition. Postmarks, dog-ears and general wear will lower this listed retail value.
Self-appraising large collections can be tedious and difficult, especially for those not familiar with the hobby, and owners may choose to approach a professional appraiser to value a collection for a fee. Stamp dealers can also help price a collection by making an offer, but owners should remember that these dealers are trying to make a profit and an offer may not represent the collections true value.
Once the owner has made an accurate determination of the value of the collection, it is time to decide where and how to sell the stamps. Selling stamps to a reputable stamp dealer is one of the simplest methods, requiring the least amount of effort on the owner’s part. The dealer examines the collection, and after haggling, a price is agreed and paid immediately.
Another simple method for selling stamps is to make contact with a local stamp collecting club. Clubs put the owner in contact with a number of motivated buyers eager to add to their collections. Some clubs even hold stamp shows, where contact may be made with an even larger group of potential buyers.
Owners can also sell their stamps online, either through a site that specializes in stamps and collectables or a more generic website. This option usually involves more work on the owner’s part, as high-resolution pictures of each stamp must be taken and downloaded to the website. For large collections, it is generally recommended that stamps are broken up into smaller lots.