Selling Your Stamps? - cont. Part 4 - Tips Of The Trade

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SELLING YOUR STAMPS? (Continued) Part 4:

Summary Tip #21: 5 Different Ways to Sell your Stamps: Selling via Auction

Dear Collector,

In Part 3 of 'Selling your Stamps' we discussed the importance of selecting the right dealers/organisations to approach and ensuring the choice of those with transparent modus operandi.

Here in Part 4 of 'Selling your Stamps' we'll discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of selling through auction on your own account.

Remember we previously discussed the importance of knowing the strength of your collection. This is never more important than when making the decision to consign your stamps to auction. We have touched upon this in previous 'Stamp Tips of the Trade'. The most important thing to remember - is 'who buys complete stamp collections at auction?'

Collectors want to buy stamps that are missing from their collections: Dealers want to buy complete collections to break out individual stamps/sets to supply to collectors. By breaking collections into individual parts dealers add value/profit. When you consign your collection as one lot to auction - 9 times out of 10 .... it is a dealer that will be buying it. Unless you are a collector that purchases collections, extract the stamps you need, and sell on the rest - you will be looking to buy specific stamps,sets or small 'runs'.

So what is wrong with consigning stamps to auction?

Nothing, if it is the right kind of stamps. For example - you need to 'quiz' the auctioneer selected as to what he/she is actually going to do with your stamps. Let's give you an example. A few weeks ago we purchased a 'Birds' thematic collection from public auction. We paid the auctioneer exactly £1011.50= ... but the actual price the stamps were 'knocked down' to us was exactly £800=. The buyer's premium was 26.4375% - and that was before the increase in VAT. If we purchased the same collection today - the buyer's premium would be 27% !

And did the collector realise £800=? NO. Even if the collector was charged just 12% + VAT selling commission - at today's rate the collector would receive £685=. Imagine, this collection has been sold to a dealer for £1011- by an auction who has put no money on the table and yet made a gross profit of £326= on the transaction.
The dealer that paid £1,011.50 expects to make a profit. It follows that if you can approach the right dealers in the right way - then you can expect to eliminate much of the money that you pay for that auction to offer your stamps to dealers. Please refer to 'Selling your Stamps?' Part 2 for suggestions as to how this may be achieved for more valuable collections.

The 'funniest' thing of all was that the auction does not even pack your purchases .... we had to pay another £35 for a company to collect the stamps, package them and deliver them to us by parcel delivery!

The point is that unless your collection includes valuable stamps/sets that the auctioneer agrees to extract and offer individually ... you are paying an enormous percentage of the value of your stamps for that auction to sell to dealers.

BUT, if your collection is one basically comprised of rarities - then an argument can be made for offering your collection individually lotted. In this way you are going to reach collectors + if yours is a 'named' collection often there is a 'kudos' value/premium that stamps with provenance achieve.

However - so large are the major auctions selling and buyer's premiums today - that even with collections of rarities - leading dealers can often offer to pay in excess of a fair auction estimate immediately - without risk, uncertainty of unsold lots, and immediately. The simple answer is get the auction to underwrite the minimum NET amount that they will guarantee you receive ... and then see by how much the 'trade' will improve upon this. Then you make a fully informed decision.

In Part 5 of 'Selling your Stamps?' we'll discuss the merits and obstacles of selling your stamps on-line via eBay and other on-line auctions.

Happy collecting from us all,

PS. If you find this 'tip' interesting please share it with a philatelic friend or visit and sign up to receive our Free Stamp 'Tips Of The Trade' Series.

Andrew McGavin

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

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