Auctions versus Direct Sale

Don't fool yourself; there's a big difference between the two

Who is John Apfelbaum?

John is the owner of stamp dealer and auction house Apfelbaum, Inc. An insightful take on the vastness of stamp collecting, John's blog provides hours of enjoyment. Read over 1,000 articles about stamp collecting and stamp history.

By John Apfelbaum





For the first hundred and fifty years, the stamp market was dominated by philatelic auctions and mail sales. Except for a regional selection of stamp shops that offered philatelic material at retail prices, the vast majority of better stamps were sold at Public Auction. In 1950, the United States had over thirty different philatelic auction companies, running, between them, some three hundred auctions per year. Auction sale made a lot of sense back then, for all three parties of the stamp transaction-the auctioneer, the buyer and the seller.


Stamp sellers had small audiences when they went to sell their collections years ago. Each city had a few dealers and an auctioneer or two but there were few national dealers to enlist to sell your stamps. Further, there just weren’t that many stamps for sale at any given time. Because of this, buyers had a hard time finding comparable sales- of say a VF,og $1 Trans Mississippi- to compare the sales price to the one that they were being offered to insure that good value was being obtained. This made stamp auctions more compelling. A body of interested collectors bidding on desirable stamps gave buyers the satisfaction of knowing they weren’t paying too much and sellers the surety of knowing they weren’t taking too little.


Like with so many other things, the Internet has changed the way collectors buy stamps. Apfelbaum used to be a stamp auctioneer-indeed, we ran over 1500 Public Auctions over 70 years and had nearly 3000 smaller auctions of lower priced lots that we called mail bid sales. But buyers, sellers, and dealers don’t need auctions-with their commissions, fees and wait times- anymore in order to secure the right price for stamps. Each day there are literally millions of stamp lots available for direct sale on the Internet. Most collectors find a favored dealer such as Apfelbaum, and know that our prices, quality and guarantees are the best in the business. To introduce you to our list of inventory available for sale go to and if you see any stamps you want, enter the coupon code WELCOMETOAPFELBAUM15 and get a 15% discount upon checkout (valid through). Our quality is excellent, our prices fair, and our shipping is both fast and free. And every lot is covered by out 100% satisfaction guarantee. Can you afford not to give us a try?


Want more of John Apfelbaum’s expert insights into the stamp hobby? Read his full blog. And then be sure to shop Apfelbaum’s stamp and postal history inventory