It’s pretty common to find yourself presented with a stamp collection that belonged to a family member. Or, maybe you have a collection from years ago that you no longer want to keep. You probably have two questions: What is it worth? What do I do with it?
If you collected the material yourself, you probably have some idea of its value. If you paid only a few dollars for items in the past, then the value today is probably quite low. The material gathered by casual collectors generally falls into this category because most of us don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on the hobby.
However, the collection may have come to you from an older family member. You may not know much about stamp collecting and you likely won’t know how much they paid for the stamps. The best way to find out is to consult a reputable local dealer. They can usually tell pretty quickly what a collection might sell for, but they would have to see the actual collection in person. In Victoria, we would recommend Weeda Stamps or Ian Kimmerly Stamps. Contact one of them and discuss your situation.
What to do with it?
There are three options: Keep it. Sell it. Donate it.
As collectors, we’d say “keep it, build it, enjoy it!” Learn about collecting because it’s a lot of fun. But we also know this isn’t an option for everyone. Some collections can be quite large and/or disorganized and you may not have the space or the interest to keep it.
So, the next option is to sell it. If you haven’t already spoken to a dealer, now is the time to do that. They will be able to make an offer based upon their market experience. It’s a good idea to temper your expectations. Just because a stamp is a hundred years old doesn’t mean it has a lot of value today.
Finally, if you have figured out that the collection is not that valuable, we would encourage you to donate it to the Gerald Wellburn Philatelic Foundation. The Foundation has programs to encourage young people to take up stamp collecting and may hand out free stamps to kids. Or it may sell material and use the proceeds to support other philatelic activities on Vancouver Island. Contact the Foundation to make arrangements to donate your material. If you don’t live in the Greater Victoria area, consider donating your material to one of the local clubs who may be closer to you.