How to Determine the Value of Elizabeth II Stamps

Like if this guide is helpful
How to Determine the Value of Elizabeth II Stamps

When attempting to value stamps from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II,, there are several factors that must be considered. Obviously, the age and condition of the stamp must be taken into account, but also such factors as to whether the stamps are pre-decimal or decimal factor into value. In addition to this is whether the stamps are everyday stamps, designed for normal use, or whether they are special issues, for events such as royal weddings or special occasions.

Stamp collecting, or philately, as it is more properly known, often begins in childhood, mainly deriving as an extension of the collections of a child's parents or grandparents. On a rainy day, when play outside is impossible, a father or grandfather may go up into the attic and bring down his long-forgotten stamp collection to share with a child. This often results in the child continuing these stamp collections, even into adulthood, at which point the cycle may begin again with his or her ensuing family. The consumer is often presented with the many, often confusing terms, used in philately, but careful research and learning details such as classifications, gradings, and types establishes a foundation from which the reader may begin determining the value of his or her existing collection of Queen Elizabeth II stamps.

Stamp Classifications

Serious philatelists have a series of classifications to grade stamps which range from 'poor' to 'superb'. The below table illustrates these classifications to enable the reader to hopefully assign a classification for his or her stamps, which, in turn, leads to a possible valuation.

Stamp Grade

Stamp Condition

Superb

Perfect in every way; of the highest quality

Extremely rare

Extra-Fine or Extremely Fine

Nearly perfect

Very Fine

Well centred and balanced with ample generous margins

Margins may not be totally even

Fine

Design may be slightly off to one side

Two sides of the stamp should be nearly perfect

Good or Average

Lowest grade normally considered by stamp collectors

May only possess this grade of stamp if it is a particularly rare example

Poor

Not normally considered good enough by collectors

The cancellation may be blurred and heavy; perforations cut into the stamp's design.

Below are further notes to expand the understanding of what comprises the various grading classifications. The gradings of stamps is largely a subjective effort, but with the general guidelines given below, determining the value of Elizabeth II stamps should be fairly straightforward.

Stamp Gradings

Philatelists have classified stamps into the following gradings. If the collector is in any doubt as to exactly which grading category stamps should fall into, then a visit to a local stamp collecting shop may well be in order.

Superb

This is the highest possible grade of stamp. It is in completely perfect condition with absolutely no blemishes. The perforations should be flawless and the stamp should be completely centred.

Extra-Fine or Extremely Fine

The stamp should be well centred, and the margins evenly spaced on all of its sides. If the stamp is 'mint', in that it has not been cancelled via a post office, it must have its original gum on the rear.

Very Fine

The colouring on a 'very fine' stamp should be bright and vivid, and the perforations should be fully intact as well. As in the table above, the design on this stamp should be well centred.

Fine

This is the most common quality of stamp to be found in an everyday collection. This stamp, whilst not quite bordering on perfect, should reflect the kind of quality consistently found in any collection of quality and estimable value.

Good to Average

As the table suggests, this stamp is generally the lowest quality of stamp found in a collection. It may well have been discarded, but for that fact, it may be particularly rare or of other special interest.

Poor

This stamp is not well centred, has corners or even sides missing, or may be badly damaged by franking or other marks. This stamp is not normally considered worth collecting unless extreme scarcity lends a value that would otherwise not exist.

Types of Queen Elizabeth II Stamps

On 15 February 1971, Britain transitioned from a monetary system of sterling to one of decimal. Not only was this a huge wrench for the British public, having to adjust to a base 10 system vs. a base 12 system and recognise the new coinage, but all the country's stamps were decimalised as well. This meant that there were two distinct periods of Queen Elizabeth II stamps, namely the pre-decimal and the decimal. The pre-decimal stamps are now fixed, but the post-decimal are expanding with every issue released by the Royal Mail. Of primary interest to collectors are the pre-decimal stamps, largely because of the photographer whose photograph of the Queen was used for the stamps.

Pre-Decimal Queen Elizabeth II Stamps

The years 1952 to 1971 saw the introduction of the 'Wildings' series of stamps. These were so called because the portrait of the Queen used was photographed by Dorothy Wilding, who had worked at the Royal Court since 1937.

This famous portrait showing Her Majesty in half-profile looking to her left, was used on British stamps until decimalisation in 1971. The crown she wears is a diamond diadem made originally for King George IV in the 1820s. It was also the same diadem worn by Queen Victoria on the original Penny Black and Penny Red stamps.

There were 18 of these pre-decimal stamps, and they ranged in value as follows: 1/2d, 1d, 1 1/2d, 2d, 2 1/2d, 3d, then 4d, 4 1/2d, 5d, 6d, 7d, 8d, 9d, 10d, 11d, 1s, 1/3d, and 1/6d. These stamps, like all British stamps, were watermarked. From 1952 to 1954; this watermark was either a Tudor crown or 'E2R'. From 1955 to 1958, the St Edward's Crown or 'E2R' was used, and from 1958 onward, only the St Edward's crown was used.

Stamps up to the value of 4d often have the watermark inverted or on its side, so careful inspection is needed to assess these stamps. In April 1962, the original cream-coloured paper was changed to pure white. This resulted in there being two variants of the St Edward's crown. It is by these watermarks and the colour of the stamp paper that the stamps can be approximately aged and valued.

Decimal Queen Elizabeth II Stamps

In the early days of Queen Elizabeth II's rule before decimalisation, there were comparatively few stamps issued. Gradually, as the years passed, more and more sets were issued. In every year since 1952, at least six new sets of stamps have been issued. From 1990 onward, there has never been a year when fewer than 10 sets have gone on sale. 2008 was somewhat of a bumper year, which saw no less than 23 new releases. This was exceeded in the year 2011, which saw 28 releases.

With 2012 being the year of the Summer Olympics in Britain, the Royal Mail pledged to get all the gold medal winners onto new stamps within 24 hours. This they did, which, along with the other 16 sets released, brings the total number of stamps released in 2012 to more than 50 different designs.

The total number of commemorative and other stamps, not including regular, day-to-day stamps released since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, and since decimalisation, now exceeds 500. This is just the number of collections of stamps. Each collection may include from two to 14 stamps.

How to Buy Queen Elizabeth II Stamps on eBay

Because the sheer number of Queen Elizabeth II stamps is so vast, shopping for stamps is easiest online; on a site such as eBay.. From any one of eBay's website pages, use the search function. Simply entering "stamps" as your search criterion will yield hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hits, giving you a very good idea of just how vast the pool of stamps to purchase is. As you can see, stamp collecting is a very big hobby, and there are literally thousands of collectors out there. Refining or tailoring your search with specific search terms such as "Great Britain&" stamps or, even more narrowly, as "Elizabeth II&" stamps will reduce the search results to a far more manageable few thousand.

A favourite and well-used feature of eBay is the "Ask a question" function of the seller. This enables you, the buyer, to ask any questions you may have, or even request further photographs or clarification on some points. Sellers generally like this function, as it puts a 'human face' on their selling operations, and gives them the opportunity to show just how knowledgeable they are on their subjects. If asking a particular point about a stamp, a seller is generally only too happy to provide the answers you may need.

Conclusion

Almost as soon as the first stamp was printed in 1840, collectors sprang up, eager to capture and own these exquisitely beautiful little objects. From the humble everyday stamp, destined only to be torn from its book of fellows, stuck on an envelope, franked, delivered, and then discarded, right up to the gloriously colourful and artistic creations to celebrate anything from royal birthdays and weddings, the millenium, and even the Olympics, stamps give hours of pleasure for millions of people, country to country, around the world.

With over 500 commemorative sets produced since decimalisation alone, there are literally thousands of stamps stemming from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II to choose from. To determine their value, careful studying of not only the stamps themselves to assess which classification they fall under, but also comparing stamps in shops and online sites such as eBay to see what similar stamps are selling for is definitely advised. Unless you are an active trader, buying stamps is wonderful for posterity. Letting them appreciate in value over time through safe and secure preservation means building a collection not just of stamps but of memories, to be shared with future generations.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides