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What Are These Stamps Worth?
You may have come to my U.S. Stamp Catalog because you found an old stamp and are wondering what it’s worth. Or you may have inherited a collection of stamps and have no idea of their value.
There are catalogs (see below) that can give you a rough idea of what (they say) a stamp is worth, but you might not know how to use one, assuming you can get your hands on one. Even if you do locate one (perhaps at your local library), I can tell you now that the values it will show you very likely are not what you should expect to get if you were to try to sell your stamp(s).
You may be wondering what the purpose of such a catalog is then. If it doesn’t give the real value of a stamp, what good is it? Stamp catalogs really can only show you the relative value of a stamp. Stamp catalogs are generally published yearly, so they can’t give current prices for stamps. The amounts they assign to various stamp issues are generally inflated from prices you’ll see in the real world. They can tell you that your stamp is worth ten times more or less than some other stamp.
So, where can you find the real value of your stamps? Do your stamps even have any value?
I have good news and bad news for you.
What’s the Bad News?
First, the bad news, which comes in two parts.
- Your stamp most likely isn’t worth very much. Sorry.
- The intent of this site is to catalog U.S postage stamps but not to give them a value.
The value of a given stamp (much like that saying about beauty) is in the mind of the owner. If a very common stamp fills a space in my collection, I value it highly, because my collection would be incomplete without it. If I find a second copy of the same stamp, it’s virtually worthless to me.
Due to the relative rarity of some stamps (especially those in great condition), it may cost me more to acquire some of them than those that are more common. But again, a second copy isn’t worth much to me. It may be worth something to someone else though.
And that’s what you’re really interested in, isn’t it? How much is that stamp worth to someone else? How much would someone else be willing to pay you for it?
Generally speaking, an average used U.S. stamp in decent condition is worth between 10c and 20c going as far back as 1932. Unused (aka mint) stamps are worth just a little more for that same time period.
If you have stamps older than 1932, you’ll probably want to check their worth in a printed catalog such as the one described below. But keep in mind what I said above about the numbers found in such books.
What’s the Good News?
So here’s the good news. There are companies whose main business is tracking the values of stamps. They publish what they’ve found in glossy paper catalogs each year. One of the most well-known of these companies is Scott.
If you want a handy reference guide for virtually all U.S. stamps by your side, you can’t go wrong with the Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps and Covers. (Covers are envelopes with the cancelled stamps still on them.)
Notice that I called this catalog a reference guide. What I said earlier about relative pricing still holds.
One place you can find such a catalog is at Amazon. Recent catalogs retail for around $99.00, but you can usually find them for a more reasonable price online.
And if I may make a suggestion…
Since catalog prices don’t vary all that much from year to year, picking up the most recent edition of the catalog is not mandatory. You’ll find better prices for a catalog a year or two old and still have 99.9% of the information you’re looking for.
Good News of Another Type
Now, you’re still probably unsure about finding the real value of your stamps. Fortunately, there’s another possible source of information that may or may not have what you’re looking for.
Stamps – the collectible kind – are bought and sold on Ebay just like everything else you can imagine. If you can find a recent sale of a stamp or stamps similar to the ones you’re wondering about, you’ll have a more reasonable figure to work with than what you’ll find in a stamp catalog.
You still may want to find, or invest in, a Scott catalog for reference. If you have a lot of stamps to research, a catalog is a virtual necessity. The numbering system used in a (Scott, for US stamps; other publishers for non-US) catalog is nearly universal. You’ll want to know such numbers when referring to your stamps so you can tell if it’s the same as one advertised on Ebay (or elsewhere).