A gentleman wanted to sell his stamp collection. Heís 94 and looking to downsize.
When I spoke to him on the phone, he said that he had thousands of dollars of stamps. I went to view his collection. While it wasnít a complete disappointment, the collection wasnít worth what he thought it was.
I looked over the material and I came up with a figure of $550. I feel it was a fair offer. I even took a recent auction catalog with me from a major auction house that offered collections and accumulations. I showed him the prices realized for material that was similar to his.
Letís just say that the conversation wasnít pleasant. But I remained professional about it.
He told me that he bought most of his stamps from a major stamp company. I know the name of the company. In my opinion, they charge prices that are much higher than I charge. For example, he bought a mint #1053 ($5 Hamilton) from them for $95. My retail price is $40 and I think Iím in line with most other dealers. Obviously, Iím buying it for less than $40 (I need to make a profit), but nowhere near his $95. Not even close!
Iím guessing he paid around $10,000 for everything that he had.
He said that he called the company to inquire about buying his collection. They werenít interested in it. Hence, he called me.
Iím going to be very blunt here. This company is still selling stamps. However, they didnít want to buy his collection. I canít speak for this other company. But in my opinion, I think itís because they know what he bought was a lot of overpriced common stamps. They didnít want them back because they knew he was going to ask for a lot of money based on what he originally paid. Rather than get caught up in that mess, they told him that they werenít interested in buying his collection.
The collector told me that he got their new issue service for $40/year for all of the used Cuban stamps. He had over 30 years of cancelled to order Cuban stamps in 2 binders starting in the 1970s. He spent $1000 (more or less) on common, used Cuban stamps. I showed him the auction catalog for a Cuban collection that had a few more years of stamps in it than his. That collection realized $150.
He was furious that my offer was so low. I was surprised he didnít call the police or throw me out the door.
I was the scape goat that had to break the news to him that he paid very high prices for common stamps. Just because he overpaid doesnít mean I was going to overpay too.
I asked, ďDoesnít it seem strange to you that the company you did business with all these years isnít interested in your collection? They are still in business so they must be buying stamps from someone, but they donít want your stamps. Why is that?Ē He didnít have an answer.
Once again, someone paid a bunch of money for stamps and had no idea what they were doing. In my opinion, this company took advantage of him. And now that heís giving up collecting due to age, they arenít willing to help him dispose of his collection. Shame on them!
He will carry those stamps with him to the grave. He will never get thousands of dollars out of it unless he happens to find another fool who is willing to pay that kind of money.
If you buy, say, $1000 of stamps from me and you decide to get rid of your collection, Iíll tell you right now that youíre not going to get $1000 or more back from me. In general, stamp prices change ever so slightly over time. If I buy back those stamps, Iím going to sell them for $1000 again, more or less. Therefore, my offer is going to be less than $1000.
Itís very rare that someone can buy a stamp today and sell it later at a profit. In most cases, collectors have to hold to their stamps many, many years before they even think of seeing a profit. Sorry, that is the nature of the market and stamp prices just donít rise very much under normal conditions.
Iíve said this before and Iíll say it again. Stamp collecting is more about the fun you get out of it. Very, very few collectors ever make money at stamps when it is time to sell.