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Many non-collectors find themselves in the unenviable position of having to dispose of a once treasured stamp collection of a dearly departed relative. Perhaps their father, mother, aunt, or uncle was engaged in the hobby for decades, and when they passed away, it came to them. Because most folks know next to nothing about philately (stamp collecting), the prospect of selling a collection that took years to assemble can be overwhelming. What if you make a mistake and give the stamps away for a fraction of their value? Since many sons and daughters are charged with this task by a parent, the surviving spouse, getting a fair sum takes on added importance.
With that in mind, here are four options that will help you ascertain the true value of the collection and dispose of it in short order.
Philatelic Traders Society
A member organization with around 450 authorized dealers in the UK, these experienced professionals abide by the society’s code of ethics, which ensures honest appraisals and fair market value for any item they offer to buy. For those who are unfamiliar with stamp collecting, these experts can provide a wealth of knowledge, advice, and selling options. With member dealers throughout the UK, it should be easy enough to find a buyer in your area; though we strongly recommend getting at least three quotes, since different dealers may offer different prices based on their wants and needs.
For those that want to do something nice for others, there are plenty of eleemosynary organizations that will accept stamps from private collectors. Charities like Oxfam, for example, will gladly take them and sell them to local stamp dealers. They can then use the proceeds from these sales for their charitable work. In many cases, if the value of the collection has already been established, the donation may be tax deductible.
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to dispose of stamps and other collectibles is to sell them online. Internet auction sites like eBay complete tens of thousands of stamp auctions each day, which makes finding the value of individual stamps a cinch. All you have to do is search past auctions to discover what items like yours sold for recently. Then you can list your item and wait for the bids to flood in. The only problem with that simple strategy is that the inexperienced seller does not have the knowledge or expertise to accurately assess a stamp’s condition. And since condition is everything in philately, you could end with a lot of disappointed, even angry customers if you sell them something that is inaccurately described. It is for this reason that we strongly advise against this strategy, unless the condition of the item you intend to sell has been established by an expert.
If your collection has been appraised for hundreds of thousands of dollars, a public auction is probably the most appropriate choice. Because they attract scores of dealers and serious collectors, stamp auctions may give you the best opportunity to sell your collection at a high price. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for bidders to actually overpay for items they decide they simply must have. The only downside is that public auctions take time to organize and complete, which means it may be a few months before payment is received.