A customer of mine sent me a copy of "Stamp Sellers' Guide For United States Stamps" by Herman "Pat" Herst. Undated, it's marked as the Tenth edition and mentions another one of Pat's books that is copyright 1962. So, this guide is almost 50 years old.

The guide is only 20 pages and tries to outline the market for US stamps for people who are not familiar with stamps. Pat advises the reader to read it all before contacting him about stamps for sale. Like all dealers, Pat must have had his share of inquiries like, "I have some stamps. What are they worth?" Many of these inquiries go nowhere.

Looking over the list though, Pat makes the following points which are still true today:

  • There are more common stamps than rare ones. The chances of any stamp being a rare one are very remote
  • Rarity does not equal value. Demand is more important than rarity.
  • After supply and demand, the most important factor in determining value is condition.
  • Stamps that are common are almost always going to be common.
  • Meters and permit imprints have almost no value. Almost no one collects material like this
  • Recent sheets and plate blocks from the post office are not "investments". These issues will almost always be common and not worth very much.
  • Large, unsorted accumulations of stamps are unlikely to contain any great rarities. Most items will be common ad inexpensive.
  • There are other points that Pat makes. But looking at the list, all of them apply today as well. Some advice about stamps transcends time. This 50 year old good advice from Pat still applies today.