Selling Your Stamps? Essential Tips Of The Trade

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Selling your Stamps?

Summary Tip #18: When it comes to Selling - all collections are not created equal.

Dear Collector,

If you are thinking of Selling Your Stamps this article is prompted by developments we have observed over the past few years when purchasing private stamp collections. I hope it may prove helpful to you.

Traditionally there are 5 different ways to sell your stamps:

1. The Stamp Dealer or Stamp Auction buying on their own account.

2. Dealers 'runners'.

3. Private Treaty - the idea of Private Treaty is that collectors 'place' their collection with a dealer or auction that charges a small commission (or the buyer a commission) to purchase the collection outright. Historically 'Private Treaty' has acquired notoriety as an excuse for the company handling the transaction to 'buy-in' the collection for themselves. Fortunately things are more transparent now.

4. Selling through auction on your own account - the auction house charges you a commission and handling costs.

5. Finally - the internet now permits you to sell your stamps on-line upon your own account via internet giants such as 'eBay'.

In selling your stamps there are two principles to understand. Collectors want to buy stamps that are missing in their collections: this is why Dealers exist. Dealers buy collections to 'break-down' into usually smaller units that collectors need for their collections: generally speaking breaking down for sale into small/smaller units adds 'value' and profit for the dealer. Some collectors are 'hoarders' and will buy general lots - other collectors will buy intermediate sized collections in order to 'extract' the stamps they want ... and then 'turn' the balance back for resale to dealer or auction.

The idea that collectors will buy large complete intact collections at retail prices is quaint and outmoded. In almost 40 years of dealing I have seen few intact collections purchased by collectors and continued by new collectors. Collectors enjoy creating their own collections. Few collectors have the budget to purchase a substantial intact collection and develop it still further.

Know your 'strengths' - (know the strength of your collection).

Choosing who is best to approach to sell your stamps or handle them depends upon your knowing the 'strength' and merits of your collection. For example ... on a basic level - if your collection consists of all different modern British sets that you have bought from the Post Office at 'face value' ... the last thing you want to do is send this collection to auction. All you will be doing is paying an auction's commissions - up to 35% for them to sell your stamps, most probably, to a dealer below 'face value' - who will use a fair percentage of them upon commercial correspondence.

A few phone calls to dealers will elicit the percentage of 'face value' that the trade is paying for stamps that there are too many of - because the Post Office has recently printed and sold them. Just don't forget to ask if there is anything 'better' in the period that you are selling - that may command a higher price.

In our next article we'll focus on the merits of the 5 different ways to sell your stamps ... and which may be best for you.

Happy collecting from us all,

PS. If you find this 'tip' interesting please share it with a philatelic friend. You can sign up to receive the entire series free of charge via our website:

Andrew McGavin
Managing Director: Universal Philatelic Auctions, Omniphil & Avon Approvals, Avon Mixtures, UniversalPhilatelic (Ebay)

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