Selling Your Stamps

Selling Your Stamps

Collectors spend a lot of time collecting stamps and many spend a lifetime collecting stamps. But, most often collectors sell their stamps once. Many collectors become very good buyers. They spend significant time, effort and expense in the process of acquiring stamps for their collections. Unfortunately, when it comes time to sell their stamps, they are totally bewildered with the process. How and where to sell your stamps is an extremely important part of the collecting process.

Often many collectors make the mistake of not selling their stamps at all - while they are alive. They leave the process of disposition to their family or friends. I have been involved in assisting family and friends hundreds of times in the selling process, and believe me when I tell you that your family and friends do not appreciate you hoisting the burden of selling your stamps onto their shoulders.

I have counseled many collectors and families over the years about the selling process, and my advice always remains the same. It is the responsibility of the collector to handle the disposition of their stamps. They are the ones that know their collection the best, they are the ones who know from whom and where they bought their stamps, and they are the ones who should be primarily responsible for the disposition of the collection.

There are basically three ways of selling your stamps. I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each avenue.

SELLING BY OUTRIGHT SALE

There are many ways of selling your stamps outright. Many collectors sell their stamps directly to stamp dealers. They may also sell their stamps to auction houses who in turn break the collections down and sell them in their own sales. Collectors may sell their stamps to other collectors via stamp clubs or shows. It is not unusual for collectors to give or sell their stamps to friends or family.

In selling your stamps outright, it is usually the collector that must determine the value of the collection. Unfortunately, many collectors do not have a good handle on current market conditions, so the process of evaluating the collection can sometimes be very difficult. If a collector relies on the dealer or friend to establish the selling price, they should have enough trust in that person to accurately determine the selling price. Needless to say, there is some danger in selling your stamps outright.

Advantages of selling stamps outright:

  • It is usually a quick process, with many times "cash on the barrelhead".
  • Most of the time, all the stamps are sold, leaving no remainders.
  • For messy or bulky collections, this may be the best choice.

Disadvantages of selling stamps outright:

  • Most often you will obtain the lowest price, or wholesale value for your stamps.
  • Somebody else will receive the profits or markup value of your stamps.

 

SELLING BY PRIVATE TREATY

The process of selling your stamps by private treaty, is quite simply, selling your stamps directly to another collector via an agent or broker. In most cases, this middle man is a stamp dealer or auction house. Private treaty sales can consist of one stamp, set, or whole collections of stamps.

We have done many private treaty sales over the years and most often, they were collections, and in many cases, specialized collections. It usually starts where a collector has a collection for sale. He may want a price that is in excess of the wholesale price which leaves the collector with the option of finding a collector that may be interested in the collection in its entirety. Since most dealers work with many collectors, they usually know of one or more collectors with an interest in the area that is being offered. Some collectors have an idea of what they want for their collections, but in many cases the

The process of selling your stamps by private treaty, is quite simply, selling your stamps directly to another collector via an agent or broker. In most cases, this middle man is a stamp dealer or auction house. Private treaty sales can consist of one stamp, set, or whole collections of stamps.

We have done many private treaty sales over the years and most often, they were collections, and in many cases, specialized collections. It usually starts where a collector has a collection for sale. He may want a price that is in excess of the wholesale price which leaves the collector with the option of finding a collector that may be interested in the collection in its entirety. Since most dealers work with many collectors, they usually know of one or more collectors with an interest in the area that is being offered. Some collectors have an idea of dealer or broker has the responsibility of coming up with the price for the collection being offered. Naturally, the broker or dealer receives a fee for the service of placing private treaty sales.

Advantages of selling stamps by private treaty:

  • Usually the sale is for cash.
  • The collection is sold intact which leaves no remainders.
  • The price quite often can be very good, certainly better than wholesale.
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    Disadvantages of selling your stamps by private treaty:

    • The price achieved is most often less than auction breakup value.
    • Often the dealer establishes the price on the collection or item.

     

    SELLING AT AUCTION

    Selling stamps at auction is one of the most popular ways for collectors to dispose of their stamps. There are a few different types of auctions that a collector may use.

    Public Auctions are one of the biggest sectors in the stamp market. More stamp business is done through public auction sales than any other facet of the stamp market. Most of the world's great rarities are sold via public auction. There is usually at least one public auction house in virtually every major city in this country. The larger cities, of course, have several.

    Public auctions publish catalogs with photos and descriptions of each item in the sale. These catalogs are mailed or delivered to collectors throughout the world. These collectors mail, fax, phone, or use the Internet to send their bids in for a particular sale. All public auctions have a closing date. On this date, all the mail, phone, fax, and Internet bids are compiled to determine the high bid going into the public part of the auction sale. Once the floor bidders are assembled, the auctioneer announces the opening bid. Floor bidders may choose to bid or not bid at that level. If they choose not to bid, the lot is hammered down to the absentee, or mail bidder. If the floor chooses to bid, then they will compete against other floor bidders or the high mail bidder until the hinge mail bidders bid has been exceeded. Once the high mail bid is exceeded by the floor, the bidding process continues on the floor until there is only one bidder. It is at this time the lot is hammered down to the floor bidder. One can assume that emotions and the drama of the floor bidding can push hammer prices quite high.

    Auction houses charge a fee for selling your stamps. This fee usually ranges in the 5-20% range depending on the collection and the selling costs. Also, many auction houses charge a buyers fee to the buyers of the stamps in their auctions. This fee usually ranges in the 5-15% range. The national standard for the most part is 10 and 10, that is to say, 10% to the seller and 10% to the buyer. These fees are what the auction houses use to cover the expenses of catalog production, mailing costs, advertising, and overhead costs.

    There is another type of auction that can be a good selling avenue. Mail auctions use many of the same processes of public auctions except that there is no floor or public selling of the lots. Mail auctions have a closing date and all bids must be received by this deadline. At the time of closing, the auction house sells each lot to the highest bidder on that lot, many times at a slight increase over the second high bidder. Mail sales tend to be larger sales that contain thousands of lots. Some mail auction sales can exceed 10,000 lots. It would be difficult and time consuming to sell 10,000 lots at a public auction when the standard selling rate is about 250 lots per hour.

    Mail auctions also tend to have a wider scope of material. Usually many countries are represented in each sale. The value of the material along with the quality tends to be on the lower side in comparison to public auctions. Selling stamps via mail sales can be a good way to dispose of some of your lower quality and lower value stamps. Most public auctions have minimum standards of value and quality that they will include in their sales. It is not unusual for a public auction house to have a minimum estimated value of $250 per lot. Many mail auctions can go as low as $25 per lot in their sales.

    Advantages of selling at Auction:

    • You will usually get higher prices for your stamps.
    • The competitive atmosphere of auctions helps to yield higher prices.
    • More people have an opportunity to buy your stamps.
    • The market determines the value.
    • Professional describes and evaluators handle your stamps.

     

    Disadvantages of selling at Auction:

    • Depending on the auction house, the selling process can extend over a long period of time, sometimes up to a year.
    • Often there are lots that do not sell in the sale. These have to be dealt with in a future sale.

     

     

     


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