Sometimes collectors will show me a selection of stamps. Most times itís better material. And they will say something such as, ďIf you know of anyone looking for these stamps, I have them and you can sell them through me.Ē I donít know of any dealers who will sell stamps that are not part of their inventory. Let me be clear.

If you have a very valuable stamp, yes, a dealer may try to facilitate a sale to another collector. There is some fee involved in conducting this transaction. The seller, dealer, and buyer all work closely together to facilitate this sale, often referred to as a private treaty. One collector is selling something to another collector using the dealer as an intermediary.

If you have, say, a used set of Pan American stamps (Scott #294-299) and youíre looking to sell that set to another collector, I donít know of any retail dealers who will help you do that. Why?

First of all, the dealer probably has those kinds of stamps in their inventory. If so, the dealer is going to focus on moving their own stock before worrying about selling your stamps to someone else.

Second, the dealer canít keep an up to date inventory. Suppose the dealer agrees to sell your set. They come back to you, say, two weeks later and say that they have a buyer. However, you traded that set to someone else and now you donít have that set. The dealer just invested time trying to sell something that was not under his control. Now the dealer has to go back to the potential buyer and say, ďSorry, itís no longer available.Ē The buyer thinks, ďIf itís no longer available, why did you offer it to me in the first place?Ē The dealer looks like an idiot.

Sellers would like to maximize the price of their material. They donít want to sell it directly to a dealer because the dealer gives them a lower price based on how soon they expect to sell it. The seller doesnít want to use an auction because auction houses have a sellerís fee. Therefore, selling their stamps to another collector gets them the most money, minus (in their mind) some trivial fee to the dealer for arranging the sale.

Sorry, but this just doesnít happen in the real world. You basically have two choices.

First is a private treaty like I mentioned earlier. This is done for very valuable material under a controlled environment.

Second is a consignment. Sometimes a dealer will accept items on consignment. That is, you give the material to the dealer and they agree to sell it on your behalf for a fee, say, 10% of the sale price. Here is the key point though. The dealer has possession of the items for sale. This eliminates the problems of the seller saying, ďOh, I sold that on my own already.Ē

Consignments can be a win-win situation. For the dealer, they donít have to come up with any money for the material since they are not directly buying it. For the seller, they may get a higher price when the material sells, minus a commission to the dealer. When the term of the assignment is over, any unsold material is returned to the owner. Dealers arenít going to accept just any items on consignment though. More valuable items that the dealer doesnít have in their stock are the best items for consignment or a collection/accumulation of material that is sold as a large lot. Dealers arenít going to take inexpensive material on consignment, especially if itís material that is similar to what they have in stock.