Value of Old Postage Stamps

So what is the value of old postage stamps? Well, like all collectible markets it comes down to simple supply and demand. While you need to consider the stamp market in general, you also must realize that old postage stamps are a special case and are valued differently. Scarcity is the most important factor in valuation; find a one of a kind stamp and you may have hit the jackpot.

Value of Old Postage Stamps

value of old postage stamps

We start every analysis of stamp value by looking at supply. What factors affect supply? Generally, the age of the stamp plays the most significant role. The older the postage stamp is, the rarer it is. Even though the stamp may have been around and produced en masse, it is not likely that many have survived to today. Though it could have been the Forever Stamp of its time, age likely has made it a collectible.

What makes an old postage stamps even rarer? A high face value provides a nice boost in a stamp’s value as a collectible. Stamps in normal circulation are generally inexpensive. However, in the past there existed stamps of high value relative to the average worker’s wage. In some instances, old postage stamps in circulation even had the face value of some workers’ entire weekly wage. As you can imagine, demand for such stamps didn’t exist, and as a result, there are few surviving samples.

Stamp Errors

So limited supply adds to the value of old postage stamps, but what are other ways that a stamp’s value can be increased? Errors. Along the way the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has slipped up and issued flawed stamps.

value of old stamps
Washington 5 Cent Stamp

As you can imagine, this would be hugely embarrassing for the post office, and as a result, the old stamps would be immediately removed from circulation. Consequently, the remaining stamps containing errors are rare and their scarcity only adds to their value.

Now what about demand? Well, over the last few years, as the stock market has continued to act as a roller coaster,  it has become more fashionable to invest in alternative investments such as wine, antiques, and stamps. The increased investor interest in postage stamps has led to a notable increase in the value of old postage stamps.

Collectible Stamps…Not So Collectible

Collectibles and antiques commemorating special occasions like a royal wedding are often in demand. However, old postage stamps relating to these occasions typically don’t hold much value. So why is the value of old postage stamps for special events so low when the demand is so high? Because supply is also extremely high. The United States Post Office knows that there is a market so supply is increased to meet it.

Condition of Stamp

When it comes to the value of stamps, condition is everything. Stamp collectors want nothing more than to sit back and relax with rare stamps that are unmarked with clean, intact perforations. While it is acceptable for a stamp to be used, the markings must not cover the stamp and be light in color.

Stamp conditions are categorized into 7 grades:

  • Poor Grade (P)
  • Average Grade (A)
  • Fine Grade (F)
  • Fine to Very Fine Grade (F-VF)
  • Very Fine Grade (VF)
  • Extremely Fine Grade (XF)
  • Superb Grade (S)

How to Find an Old Stamp’s Value

When it comes to finding your old stamp’s value, the gold standard is Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogues which can be found at many local libraries. While you may not receive the exact price listed for your stamp in the value book, it will give you a fair idea of what your old stamp is worth.

Conclusion

Did you ever think that old box of stamps in the attic or basement was worth so much money? While not all old stamps are worth a fortune, there’s a very good chance your lucky find will be worth far more than any roll of Forever Stamps. So make sure that you preserve it in its original condition and get it appraised as soon as possible. You may be sitting on a fortune.

3 Comments

  1. I recently received a book of old stamps. The book was given as a gift back in 1903. The recipient then began collecting. Some of the stamps are from countries that no longer exist. For instance, I have some form the Ottoman Empire which was pre- WW1 .

  2. I have a red 2 cent stamp never used in perfect condition what is it worth.

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