Help! I Inherited A Stamp Collection!
The very first question you have to ask yourself - and you may already have answered - is do you want to keep it or get rid of it? If the latter, are you seeking money or gratitude?
If the latter - gratitude - you can skip most of the rest of this article and search for local charities, and just pick a charitable organization. We recommend The BRELLA COMMUNITY SERVICES
If any of the other choices, including taking a tax deduction for your donation, then the first step is to get an idea of what's in the collection. The more work you do, the more you'll get from the collection.
You can just take all the books and boxes to a local stamp dealer, dump them on the counter, and say, "What will you give me for this?" but how will you know if you're getting a fair deal?
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Separate the material in the collection by country, and separate the covers (envelopes) from the stamps within the countries. Some of the country names may be unfamiliar to you - "CCCP" is the Soviet Union, for example, and "Magyar Posta" is Hungary.
Now, go to your public library and ask to see the stamp catalogues most have in the Reference Department.
The standard in the Canada for all countries is the Scott Postage Stamp Catalogues series.If you want to check it for free, you'll have to look at these books in the library. Look up some or all of the stamps in the collection. Keep in mind that the minimum value in the Scott stamp catalogues is 20 cents, no matter how undesirable the stamp is, so don't mistake 1,000 20-cent stamps for $200. Also don't mistake catalogue values - which are supposed to resemble selling prices - for what a dealer will pay you.
What you're looking for is to see if the values of any of the stamps in the collection jump out at you - significantly higher than the others. Make a note of those.
If the entire collection consists of "better" stamps, and especially better stamps in a single country or subject, then you'll want to contact a dealer who specializes in that area. Anyone else is likely to give you less for the collection, so that he or she can make a profit selling it to a specialized dealer.
If they're all mediocre stamps, your best bet may be to donate them to a charitable organization, as discussed above. The tax deduction may be worth more than whatever cash you'd get from a dealer.
If there are a few better stamps, but most are mediocre, you may be able to get a dealer to purchase the entire collection, so our advice is not to remove those better stamps, because they make the package more desirable. Pull all the good stuff out of a collection, and you may be stuck with the remainder.
To find a general-purpose stamp dealer, do a search for "stamp dealers. Many of these stamp store owners do specialize in particular areas, but handle a variety of philatelic specialties. (Here's a tip: If a store says it's "Joe's Coins & Stamps," Joe is a coin dealer who dabbles in stamps. If the name is "Stamps & Coins," then Joe is a stamp dealer who dabbles in coins. You'll do better selling stamps to a stamp dealer and coins to a coin dealer.)