An older woman in a nearby town called me. She wanted to sell her collection which was mostly formed in the 1960s and 1970s. She described collecting mint plate blocks and some mint sheets for the American Bicentennial in 1976. I explained to her that those issues are common and mainly bought at a discount below face value. She understood, or so I thought.
She went on to describe some other points about her collection. It sounded like all typical material. Most of the value was going to be in the mint US. She also remarked that she had a collection of Disney stamps.
I agreed to meet her. As an elderly woman that was unable to drive and she had a larger collection (about a bookshelf of material), I agreed to travel to visit her and evaluate the collection.
The collection didnít take long to review and it was very much just the way she described it. I went to work and calculated my offer which was just under $1500.
She quickly exploded. ďNo way. Iím not going to give this collection away,Ē she barked at me. I have over $1000 in face value in just the Disney stamps.
I tried to explain. ďThe face value is just for the US stamps. The worldwide stamps arenít usable as postage.Ē At this point, I lost the argument and we werenít going to make a deal at all.
Here is the scoop.
If you have mint stamps from a larger country that has a legitimate postal system (e.g., Germany, Canada, Great Britain, and many other countries), then yes, those stamps can be easily used for postage in that country and they are bought and sold as such.
If you have mint stamps from a smaller country where the population numbers in the hundreds or few thousands of inhabitants (or a population of zero in some cases!) and/or without a functioning postal system, then those stamps are not bought and sold as postage.
For example, Somalia has a population of about 10 million people. Itís not a tiny country. However, that country has been ripped apart by an ongoing Civil War. It has very little infrastructure. The political system is largely undefined. There really is no functioning postal system in Somalia. That $10 souvenir sheet from Somalia is probably the annual income for many of the citizens. No one in Somalia could afford to buy $10 in stamps. There isnít even a postal system to mail letters. Therefore, you canít say that $10 souvenir sheet is usable as postage to someone. Itís not.
Look at Lundy Island. As of 2008, there were about 50 inhabitants on the island. There is a private postal system there that exchanges mail with the British government. About 40,000 pieces of mail are handled per year, many from the tourists to the islands. There is a functioning postal service there. However, with only 40,000 pieces of mail per year and most of that coming from tourists, there is no market there for discount postage. Once again, you canít take, say, $500 of mint stamps and souvenir sheets from Lundy Island and find a buyer of that material as discount postage.
In conclusion, sometimes your collection of mint stamps has value as discount postage. Sorry, but if your mint stamps come from a country with a small population or a country that has little, if any, postal service Ė those mint stamps will be bought based on market value to another stamp collector and nothing more.