What to do when you inherit a stamp collection

Apr 29, 2021, 6 PM

You've recently inherited a stamp collection. The only thing you know stamps are good for is sticking them on an envelope that's to be mailed. What do you do with this collection of stamps?

Is it worth anything? Before you think about disposing of the collection by giving it away or selling it, consider what the hobby of stamp collecting has to offer you.

Stamp collecting is fun, entertaining and offers the opportunity to express your individuality. Stamps have much more to offer than simply value. You can learn about the world and its people through stamps. You can collect topics of interest to you. Glance through the collection.

You may find numerous topics of interest — cats, dogs, cars, flags, art, paintings, glass and so on. Check out the cancellations and postmarks, too. These have much to offer. Sometimes postmarks themselves feature topics. They also help explain destinations and rates.

The collection may include complete envelopes (known as covers by stamp collectors). Keep these intact. Don't remove the stamps unless you're certain the stamps are worth more off the cover than on it.

So before you decide to get rid of the collection your well-meaning relative left you, think about using it to start a new hobby. If after giving it some serious thought, you've decided you want to disperse of the collection, here are some tips for determining what the collection is worth and finding a new owner.

The 1996 book I Inherited, A Stamp Collection, Now What? might help you, but it is out of print, and parts of the book are obsolete. Another book Top Dollar Paid! is a good one and is available from stamp supply dealers who also sell books, including from Amos Advantage

You can determine the retail value of your stamps by using the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogues, available at most public libraries or for purchase at