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Help... I inherited a stamp collection! | Join
HELP...I inherited a stamp collection and don't know what to do with it!

The first thing you have to decide is: Do you want to keep the collection or get rid of it? If the latter, are you seeking money or gratitude? If you are seeking gratitude, you can choose to make a donation to the Salem Stamp Society or one of the charitable organizations in the U.S., listed at the bottom of this article.

If you are interesting in selling your collection or obtaining an estimate, you can contact any of the following Salem Stamp Society member dealers.


Gary Tiffin Member Dealer 503-743-2306
Bob Reynolds Auction Chairman 503-580-6574

if you are interesting in valuing a collection on your own, the first step is to get an idea of what's in the collection. The more work you do, the more you'll get from the collection.

First, sort the material in the collection by country, and sort the covers (envelopes) from the stamps within the countries. Next, go to your public library and ask to see the stamp catalogs most have in the Reference Department. Scott Catalogs are the standard in the U.S., Stanley Gibbons in Britain and many British Commonwealth countries, Michel in Germany and other parts of Europe, and Yvert in France and French-speaking countries. If the library has some not-quite-current versions, you may be allowed to take check them out.

Look up some or all of the stamps in the collection. Keep in mind that the minimum value in the Scott Stamp Catalogs is 20 cents, no matter how undesirable the stamp is, so don't mistake 1,000 20-cent stamps for $200. Also don't mistake catalog values for what a dealer will pay you. Stamp dealers who buy and sell at the same price don't remain in business very long!

What you're looking for is to see if the values of any of the stamps in the collection jump out at you - significantly higher than the others. Make a note of those.

If the entire collection consists of "better" stamps, and especially better stamps in a single country or subject, then you'll want to contact a dealer. If they're all mediocre stamps, your best bet may be to donate them to a charitable organization, as discussed above. The tax deduction may be worth more than whatever cash you'd get from a dealer.

To get several quick looks at a collection at once, and if the collection is small enough to be portable, you might want to take it to a local stamp show; you can find upcoming shows on our "Shows" page. However, dealers at a show are often pressed for time and distracted, so this may be best only for getting a "ballpark" idea about the collection.

This article is a condensed, modified version from Thank you, Lloyd de Vries.

Charitable Stamp Collecting Organizations
All of these organizations are registered as not-for-profit educational institutions with the IRS. Donations to them may be tax deductible for U.S. citizens. All will furnish you with a receipt for your contribution, although none will put a dollar value on it. First Stamps destributes stamps to kids.

First Stamps

American Philatelic Society
100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1367
(814) 933-3803

American First Day Cover Society
Post Office Box 16277
Tucson, AZ 85732-6277
(520) 321-0880

American Topical Association
P.O. Box 8
Carterville, IL 62918-0008
(618) 985-51oo

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