Tip #1. Sell to a reputable dealer.
Stamps are a specialized collectible. Membership in a philatelic organization as a dealer means they are bound to a professional code of ethics.
Tip #2. Don't sell your stamps to a coin dealer, an antique dealer, or a car dealer. Stamps are a specialized collectible that requires specific knowledge. You won't get the best price from a coin dealer, a flea market trader or your mechanic.
Tip #3. Don't ship your stamps to an out of town or out of state dealer whom you do not know.
If a dealer is buying by mail, you may be responsible for shipping and insurance both ways. What happens when you get a call with a low offer? What happens if not all of the stamps are returned? Too many things can go wrong. Once the stamps are out of your hands, are they insured? What assurance do you have that you will be treated fairly or paid on time?
Tip #4. Condition is important!
If your stamps were stored in a basement or garage and have evidence of moisture or worse, mold and mildew, there is little that can be done. Store stamps in areas where they will not encounter drastic changes in temperature or unwanted visitors. Stamps in albums should be stored upright, on a shelf, and not stacked on top of one another in a box. Stacking them puts pressure on the stamps, and any change in humidity can cause mint stamps to stick. Stamps that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars can be ruined if stored carelessly.
Tip #5. I found one of the stamps in my collection on eBay and the price is $5,000. How do I know if the one I have is worth $5,000?
First, check completed and sold items to see what the same item has sold for. Have you checked watermarks and the perforations with a gauge? Does the stamp have a cancel? How about gum? Does the seller specialize in stamps? If the stamp truly is a $5,000 stamp, it should have a certificate from a reputable stamp authority that confirms it's identity and condition.
Tip #6. Professionally repaired stamps are difficult to spot.
I have over 20 years experience and can identify repaired stamps. Damaged and repaired stamps sell for a small fraction of what a truly sound copy would sell for. Damaged stamps routinely sell for as little as 5% of catalog value.
Tip #7. Gold foil First Day covers do not contain any gold.
Sadly they were printed with gold-colored foil on card stock. These were sold as an "investment" to those who were not familiar with stamps. Just like plates from the Franklin Mint, Precious Moments, and Beanie Babies, these sell for a fraction of what they originally sold for.
Tip #8. Old mail. If you have old mail, don't cut the stamps off the corners. Many times the envelope and cancel tells a story and can be worth much more than the stamp itself.
Tip #9. Ask a professional philatelist.
Fox River Stamps can help you get a fair price for your collection.
Tips when it's time to sell . . .