But…What Is It Worth?

A very good topic on a Facebook “Stamp” Group yesterday. “Would You Sell To A Dealer?”

It is one of those questions which is slightly provocotive. In real life, there are few questions which can be answered with a simple “yes” and “no”. Life is nuanced.

I am 63 years old and been seriously collecting Irish stamps since 1970. Would I sell to a Dealer? Well…no. The only possible reason I would have to sell my stamps is financial hardship. My stamp collection is destined for my older son. He may not add to the collection but at least he has promised to keep it intact. Increasingly my albums of Irish stamps is more a personal archive than a collection.

GAA HurlingReally I just dont want my collection of stamps in the hands of a Dealer. It is NOT a matter of Trust. I buy ninety per cent of my “wants list” from a single dealer. He has always been fair to me. I have only ever come across one dealer who I learned (the hard way) not to trust. Every dealer and collector has an anecdote about him.

I only ever once tried to sell my collection. It was in the mid-1980s when I was a young married man and we were expecting our second child against a backdrop of my wife’s reduced earnings and a car that was costing too much to repair.

Of course all Collectors have an exaggerated opinion of the value of their stamps. And all Dealers need to make a profit and know the market. As it turned out the offer was derisory and …I was glad. A good offer meant I would have sold my stamps and had few regrets. I would havOe had no decision to make.A “reasonable” offer would have made me think. And if I had sold the stamps, I would have probably  regretted it. But the derisory offer (and indeed the attitude of the Dealer meant I had no decision to make.

One of the reasons that I was able to build a collection in the 1990s…getting those higher value stamps of Robert Emmet, Fr Luke Wadding, Admiral William Brown etc was the help I received from an elderly collector  in England. He sent me his “duplicates” on a regular basis. Only when his widow sent me some stamps did I discover that “John” (a man I never met) was not sending me “duplicates”….he was passing on some stamps from his collection, purely on the basis that I lived in the town where he was born…and wanted to help a (then) youngish collector.

I am too far out of the loop to buy stamps with any intention of re-selling to dealers. The Philatelic Market in Ireland is too small. I am not a member of a Stamp Club…I am just not the “clubbable” type…I share Groucho Marx’s reservations about clubs….I wouldnt join one that would have me as a member. And I am just not the “wheeler-dealer” type.

But the question in the headline “But What Is It Worth” is a question that intrigues me about the Stamp Collecting World. Take these three sheetlets issued in 1999.

GAA Football

Millenium Sheet

The GAA Football Sheet (green) is catalogued by Stanley Gibbons at £9.00. The GAA Hurling Sheet (blue) is catalogued at £8.00. The Millennium Discoveries Sheet is catalogued at £15.00. While I would expect most dealers would sell below “book price”, the realistic price is maybe £7.00, £7.00 and £12.00 respectively.

For me these are…Duplicates. They have no value. A Dealer would not need to buy them from me. So are these sheets worthless?

I dont think so. For a start Irish collectors …on a budget…might think twice about paying top or near top dollar. On the other hand, are these three sheetlets worth a total of  (say)£15.00.  Yes, I would be happy with that. But that is (say) £15.00 for forty two mint stamps…all at (then) domestic rate postage. And if I could arrange a swap with a collector who has some stamps from my wants list (2001-2005) then this would be even better. Everyone is a winner…except of course near impossible to arrange.

EBay? Yes I could probably raise £15.00 on an online auction site. But that seems like too much hassle.

Yet it seems that these three sheets and some other items are the “best” duplicates I have. I never mind trading fifty Irish or British duplicates for fifty similar from (almost) anywhere else in the world. Yet I am almost scared to trade these really good duplicates for something I dont really need or want. To me fifty used commemorative stamps from (say) Belgium or New Zealand are “trading for fun” or merely to be “social”. I may not be clubable but I am certainly social.

So are there other opportunities for Trade or Barter?

Yes I think so. I am a general collector.a..or even hoarder.

A secondary interest of collecting Irish Postal History…or used postcards from the era 1890-1922 when British stamps and “English” postmarks were used all over Ireland…I really cant give this deserved attention until I have dealt with the wants list (2001-2005).

Likewise my third and fourth interest of Irish Coins and Irish Phonecards.

But what about unused postcards from United States? I have nearly one thousand….typically yet another view of the Grand Canyon, Mickey Mouse and Manhattan is worthless to me. But on the other hand…Helena (Montana), Franklin (Tennessee) and Belfast (Maine) and a thousand other places are of great interest.

I am becoming increasingly  interested in American Coins. Possibly this is related to my first and so far, only visit to United States in February 2013 and actually handling cents, nickels, dimes and quarters for the first time.

So…is the Millennium Science Discoveries sheet worth $7.00 to a collector in Tuscon, Arizona? Is the GAA Football sheet worth $6.00 to a collector in Providence, Rhode Island? Is the GAA Hurling Sheet worth $5.00 to a collector in Butte, Montana? All payable in Lincoln cents and “State Quarters”? That is maybe an ideal scenario.


About John

Dia Duit! Hello. My name is John. I am retired. I live in Ireland. I am on a five year mission to visit every city, town, village and place of historic and scenic interest in Ireland.
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