I get many inquiries such as, “I have a collection with $30,000 in catalog value. I want $12,000 for it.” I don’t know of a single dealer that will accept an offer like this. Why?

Dealers never buy at a flat percentage of catalog value. And dealers never buy a collection without physically seeing it. If this is a collection of used stamps with heavy cancels and many assorted faults like thins and tears, the collection is probably only worth a small fraction of catalog value. On the other hand, if this is a collection of all mint, NH stamps with graded certificates and nothing below a 95 grade, then $12,000 could be a steal.

Catalog value is a starting point and nothing more. When I hear $30,000, this isn’t a run-of-the-mill collection with mostly inexpensive stamps and maybe a handful of moderately priced material. Is this advanced collection worth $300, $3000, $12,000, or more – I have no idea until I see the collection.

This also applies to modern mint stamps too. A seller says, “I have $500 of common mint sheets from 1960 onwards.” Pretty simple, huh? Dealers buy this stuff all of the time as discount postage.

Early on in my career I had someone sell me their mint postage. I sent the check and they sent the stamps. When I got the stamps, some of it had no gum and some of it was stuck together. The seller failed to mention that little nugget when they contacted me. Thankfully, it was only a few hundred dollars of stamps. For the time spent using Elmer’s glue to attach stamps to packages and separating the stuck items, I didn’t save a dime. It was all eaten up in labor costs. Had I seen the condition of the stamps up front, I would have passed on them. It was too much work to use them up as postage.

I learned my lesson. Even when it’s the “straight forward” mint stamps, I still want to see them first. Then I’ll decide if I’m a buyer.

Sellers looking to dispose of a collection for a percentage of catalog value without having the dealer see what the collection contains are never going to get an offer from a stamp dealer. It’s too much risk for the dealer.

Have an offer in mind that you want for the collection. But you’re going to have to let a dealer see the material before they ever commit to an offer. Even for something as “straight forward” as mint discount postage.