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Stamps (Philately)/Bag of loose stamps


Hello.  Upon the death of a relative, who was a huge stamp collector, I obtained (because no one else wanted it) a gallon size baggie of loose stamps.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.  I know you specialize in US stamps but none of the experts listed seemed to have any more knowledge than you on international stamps. Every handful I pulled out consisted mainly if not entirely of international stamps.  All values.  He had books and books of stamp collections and books and books of specialty, commemorative, error, etc collections but this bag, supposedly, were stamps he did not have a chance to sort, research, and place in a book (if worthy).  I don't know.  I will say, he acquired a large amount of his stamps at small town auctions, med/lg town auctions, flea markets and even garage sales.  His collections brought thousands and thousands at his estate sale.  This bag...I have no idea where to start.  I was wondering...and my question (whew!) is there some method or way of automatically eliminating stamps that not worth anything...that is...hmmmm....less than $1? Is there someway to narrow down what I have without literally going through them one by one and researching them?  I thought of just offering them as is....the whole bag....attaching a price...but something is nagging at me.  What if it's a bag of junk stamps and someone buys it and pays too much...or vice verse...what if I sell the bag and there IS a stamp or two that are worth significantly more than I ask for the bag.  This has been wearing on me for months.  Every time I see the bag, I go through the same yes/no battle in my head.  Can you help this stamp-illiterate housewife?

Hello Saundra,

Thanks for your question.  I hear your frustration loud and clear.  The problem you describe is one that comes up quite frequently.

First, take a deep breath.   I am going to try and give you some direction that I hope will help.  To determine the value, a stamp collector would need to see what you have.  My suggestion is take what you have to several stamp dealers in your area and ask for their honest evaluation.  Tell them you are interested in the value, not for selling.   Make sure any dealer you talk with is associated with ASDA (American Stamp Dealers Association).  They have a strict set of guidelines that dealers must adhere to in order to remain in good standing.  It is there for your protection.

Take what you have to several dealers.  Most of the dealers should be in the same general area regarding value.  Keep in mind about your stamps that many people fail to realize:  old stamps do not necessarily mean valuable.  When you show the dealers what you have, they should be able to glance through very quickly and determine if you have anything of value.

If you want to determine some of the values yourself, it is fairly easy.   At your local library, check out Scotts Catalogue.  It is considered the "holy bible" of stamp collectors.  In these books, you can find almost every postage stamp ever issued.  There are pictures to help with identification as well as values for each item in both mint and used conditions.  Keep in mind that the values listed are what you could expect to pay for an item if you were to buy it at a stamp dealer.  Selling that same item to a dealer would generally net you 20% to 30% of the list value depending on condition and demand.  

Okay---I know that's a lot of info on your plate.  Hope it helps.  Thanks again for your question and let me know if I can be of any more help.

P.S.  Please remember to rate my reply to your inquiry.  Appreciate it.  

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Terry Tipton


I have been involved in philately for most of my 56 years. I specialize in United States Issues and Postmarks. I have numerous reference sources to research if I do not know the answer. I am organized and promise swift courteous answers. I am a member of the American Philatelic Society. I also have my own philatelic mail order business.


As I mentioned, I have been collecting philatelic items for most of my 56 years. I have several albums of United States issues (most of them are pages I designed myself) and I also have numerous albums of postmarks sorted and researchhed by state.

American Philatelic Society, All Nations Stamp Club and Harford County Stamp Club

Linn's, All Nations Stamp Club Website, and local Newspaper

Awards and Honors
Board of Directors for Christmas in April 1990-1996

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