I get people wanting to sell their gold stamps and other assorted over-priced philatelic creations that most collectors don’t want.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been hearing advertisements on the radio from a company purporting to be a mint from a major US city. I won’t give their name because I don’t want to add any legitimacy to their advertising. Nor do I want their attorneys contacting me! The truth is, the US never had a mint in this city.

This company uses slick ads offering long lost gold coins and other assorted numismatic gems. There must be gullible people buying these creations, thinking they are investing in something that will someday be worth millions. If people weren’t buying this stuff, this company would be out of business. The sad truth is that they are buying numismatic items created for the uneducated public at highly inflated prices. The only one making money is this company selling this stuff. I pity the poor souls when they decide to sell their coin collections. It will be too late to find out they were duped. Their rare coins are worth pennies on the dollar.

I once had a collector who became irate with me when I broke the news that his gold stamps were almost worthless. I thought the guy was going to punch me. I asked him in a serious voice, “What made you think you were buying real gold for $5 or $10?” I was finally able to reason with him by saying, “Look, I’m not interested in buying your gold stamps. You call me a crook? How? If I’m not buying them, I’m not making any money from you. I’m just telling you that I don’t think you’ll get more than a few pennies on the dollar from any stamp dealer. You should be going after the company that sold you this stuff in the first place. They took your money. Not me.” Reality set in. Dumbfounded and disappointed, this guy knew he was going to lose money on his investment. I was just the bearer of bad news. However, he was responsible for making the poor choices.

There is an obvious key to spotting these schemes. They NEVER advertise in hobby related publications. For example, with stamps, you’ll never see these ads in Linn’s Stamp News, Mekeel’s and Stamps, or any other philatelic publication. Knowledgeable collectors that read these publications realize that it’s overpriced material. These companies target and prey on unknowledgeable individuals. They want the person sitting at home, reading some everyday magazine, who is somewhat interested in stamps to see their ad and respond, “Wow. Look at that. I can buy gold for $5 per stamp. Where’s my credit card at? I need to sign up now!”

A number of companies have produced this philatelic junk over the years. If you bought it with the intent to make a profit, you have my sympathy. If you bought it because you like the stuff and you’re not motivated by money, that’s great. I hope you enjoy your collection.

Stamps are not alone in these scams. Stamps, coins, sports cards – all have their share of overpriced junk that was sold with lots of hype. The bad news is that people never learn. Some of these companies have gone out of business. Some of them have been around for years. You think word would spread and these companies would be soon out of business. Companies like these give the hobby a bad image.