Allow me to start with a warning. Much of what Iím about to say here is based on generalities. Donít take these statements as absolutes. When you speak in general terms, there are always going to be exceptions to the case.
Iíve had many sellers contact me with collections or accumulations. Many times, they have no clue what the value is or they have a very inflated figure in mind. Here is my list of collections and accumulations and what a dealer like myself would pay for them.
1. The cigar box or shoe box of stamps. Most of the time, these are common and inexpensive stamps. If the stamps have much damage at all (cut with scissors, tears, thins, etc.), collections like this are worth nothing and could be given to a local stamp club as a giveaway to young collectors at a local show. If the box contains all the same stamp or many copies of just a few different stamps, the value is even less. If the stamps are varied, clean and sound, box accumulations like this are worth a few dollars at the most. Dealers buy mixed material like this for a few dollars per pound or a few dollars per thousand stamps.
2. Used stamps on paper are worth less than stamps that are soaked off of paper. Soaking, drying, and sorting stamps is time consuming. Most dealers donít do it or at best, a family member does the soaking and sorting. On or off paper accumulations are also bought for a few dollars per thousand or a few dollars per pound.
3. Mint stamps always have some value as discount postage if nothing else. Mint stamps that are in sheets or plate blocks are easier to count and organize than, say, a bunch of mint singles in a stamp album. With an album, a dealer has the added time to remove all of those individual stamps. Youíll realize more for your mint stamps if you do the sorting by denomination and count them.
4. An album of stamps. It depends on what the album is. Many albums are smaller and contain hundreds or a few thousands of stamps. These are almost always beginner type collections that were formed by saving stamps off of an envelope or buying stamps in a packet, say, 100 stamps for a $1. Beginner type collections are worth a few dollars depending on how many stamps there are and that they are generally sound and clean.
5. An advanced album of stamps. This is from a more advanced collector. There may be some inexpensive, common material. But there are some better singles or sets of stamps too. Depending on the condition of the stamps and how many better items there are, these albums bring at least in the tens of dollars. If there is enough better material, an album like this could bring in the few hundreds of dollars.
6. A specialized collection. Beyond the advanced collection, these collections contain high value material. In these cases, the collector usually disposes of the collection before they pass on. Or they make provisions for itís disposal with an executor. These collections bring hundreds and often thousands of dollars because of the material they contain. Itís rare that someone inherits a collection like this without having some clue that itís of great value.
What kind of collection do you have? If itís a cigar box full of stamps, sorry, there is a very good chance that itís inexpensive material with little or no value. Youíre unlikely to have a valuable accumulation. It could happen, but in my experience, the odds are extremely small.
Again, these are generalities and there are always exceptions to the rule. I donít mean to downplay the value. But unless you inherit an advanced or specialized collection, most of the run-of-the-mill collections bring in the tens or perhaps few hundreds of dollars.