By now most of you know how much I love me some antique stuff. Whether it’s sexy coins, baseball cards, books, baby prams, or any other interesting collectibles I come across at yard sales and thrift shops.
Most times I usually look to add stuff to my own collection, but others I’m out on the hunt for items to flip and (hopefully) make a tidy profit from. Especially during fits of minimalism :) (Do you know how hard it is to hold back when you’re a natural collector of things?? It takes some major willpower!)
This brings us to a couple of stamp albums I picked up years ago mainly cuz they just looked so freakin’ cool, but also because one day I figured I’d probably try and sell them and see how much I made on the transaction. And this magical day is coming sooner than later because I can’t help my curiosity anymore as to what – if anything – they’re all worth!
All I know is the following:
- They’re all super old, like from the 1800s and early 1900s
- There’s *hundreds* of them, if not *thousands*
- These “modern” books/albums were printed in 1915 and 1937
- And the lady who consigned them – in her 60s her self – said they had belonged to her grandfather who collected for over 40 years while flying all around the world in the military. So not only do we have tons of US stamps in these books, but also hundreds from dozens of other countries too!
- Oh, and I paid $20 in total from them :)
So I feel like there’s GOT to be some good money in these bad boys – at least more than my piddly $20 bucks right? RIGHT??? Any stamp collectors out there want to chime in and help a brother out? (I”ll pay you in beer?!)
Something else I know – or, I should say, heard of – was that stamps printed in the past 80-100 years usually aren’t worth much, but those before that have a better chance of being valuable. So I really think I’m sitting on a gold mine here. Or at least that’s what I’m going to pretend until someone proves me differently ;)
Here are a few of the inside pages… Tell me they’re not awesome??
It’s pretty interesting to see all the different kinds of denominations. We’ve got some 1 cents, 3 cents, 7 cents, and even some 1/2 cents scattered about. And then there’s some funky looking ones too like those elongated vertical George Washington strip stamps. Imagine what 50 cents was worth 100+ years ago?? I wonder what they were trying to ship with it?
And then we have the famous “air mail” stamps too – with the most famous one being that upside down plane that sold for hundreds of thousands a little while back. That’s literally the only stamp I’ve heard of before being worth anything, haha… But we do have some of these air mails in the book too:
Outside of that, though, I’m really at a loss… Unlike coins and other collectibles, there aren’t any dates on these guys so every time I try to look one up online I can never tell if it’s the same one or not! And there’s like a billion different variations of each old stamp! I don’t know how collectors do it… But I would like one of them to size up my collection for me and then provide me with lots of cold hard cash, thank you very much ;)
The History of Stamps
My only success so far has been learning about the history of how stamps came around back in the day. And it’s actually quite a fascinating story. Here’s a clip from the American Philatic Society (aka stamp collecting club):
“The birth of the postage stamp dates back to May 6, 1840, when Britain issued its first stamp, the “Penny Black”… In the early days of the postal service, stamps and envelopes did not exist… When you wanted to send a letter you would fold it up and seal it shut, and the person who received the letter had to pay for the delivery costs. Since rates at that time were very high, many people refused to accept letters. In fact, many people developed secret codes by which they could cheat the postal services. They would place secret marks on the outside of the letter that conveyed their message and all the addressee had to do was read the secret message, refuse to accept the letter, and thus not have to pay for it. Mainly for this reason, postal services turned to a means of prepaying postage.”
Kinda reminds me of the days of calling “collect” where you’d dial up a friend/family member and in the part where you’re supposed to say your name, you rattle off a quick message and then hang up once you know they’ve heard it. (For example – “Mom, pick me up!” which I used a solid 4 days a week during after school soccer practice ;))
Anyways, the entire history of our stamps is pretty neat, and you should def. check it out more some time when you’re bored or just want to learn something new.
As for my new interest in these tiny pieces of sticky paper, well, I hope to have an answer for you soon as to whether I’ll be a millionaire or not ;) I’ve asked a couple of coin friends if they have any connections to stamp dealers, since there often tends to be a cross over in the hobbies, but so far I’ve only got one response and for an evaluation it’ll cost me $160. And perhaps more, depending on the time involved.
I’m not sure I’m willing to pony up that much quite yet, unless they can tell me I’m DEFINITELY sitting on that gold mine (hardly likely), so for the time being I have ordered a stamp book on Amazon to see if I can decipher the code more myself. It’s called, “The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Postage Stamps” and it cost me a whopping $8.00 :) Figured this way I can learn a lot more about the hobby, as well as what to look for at future yard sales/shops/etc too. With any luck I’ll determine a good chunk of my stamps’ worth as well!
But please – cross your fingers for me! I’m half excited about the process, but also very much half scared too, haha… I’ll be in deep doo-doo if I get addicted to yet another hobby outside of blogging and coins… And WHATEVER I do, do NOT – I repeat, do NOT – let me start a blog on stamps, okay?! I mean it! My street cred’s already shaky now with that coin blog ;)
Anyways, I’ll keep you posted on my findings…. If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because I’m chillin’ on the new island I bought…
Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!
Wow, I don’t know anything about stamps but yours look pretty cool! You’ll have to let us know how it goes and how much you get for them!
Thanks! Sure will! :)
My grandfather gave me a handful of stamps before he passed away. I have them in my safe deposit box. Not sure if they are worth anything or not. They don’t seem like anything special, but then again, I could be sitting on millions and not even know it haha!!
Exactly! You’ve got to be curious, right? We all need to take them to a dealer or something just to double check one of these days :)
Wow, J$ – super cool!!!! This reminded me of Antiques Roadshow. You should bring ’em to the show when it’s in your area and see what they say. :-)
Ooooh perfect idea!! I tried to get on there a cple years ago but the dang tickets are randomized and didn’t win :(
So how will we know if you’re a bazillionaire? Is that the day the website stops updating? ;) Or will we just get a quick “hey, nice knowing you – I’ll be back at some point, but for now I’m taking a cruise around the world” post?
I’m the same way with some old collections – I have a few – maybe 5 or six – fancy coins (I believe they’re called British Sovereign coins that my relatives in Greece gave me as a kid to keep. I had no idea what the heck they were so I didn’t even know how to look them up! After my 100th google search I finally figured out they’re pretty “gold” and pretty “cool.” I would have no idea how to look up a stamp, but would probably google a few of them to see what kind of stamps they might range in to determine whether it’s worth the $160 to have them evaluated officially.
Maybe a consignment or pawn shop would be a decent place for a quick lookover – they might have some general knowledge and at least point you in the right direction.
Yeah, I just have to take the time to research some myself, and then get a professional opinion afterwards (just to make sure no one’s gonna rip me off w/ my billionaire stamps! :)). As far as how you’ll be able to tell I’ve hit it big, it’ll be reflected in a future net worth update, haha…
I honestly never understood the stamp collecting “thing,” but I have to admit that it is cool and it is also amazing to think about the postage system of other times and places. I worked with a guy who was from Pakistan and he said that we (US citizens) would complain about our postal system, but we had no idea how good we had it. He said that he never knew when he was going to get his mail or if mail that he sent would reach his destination. Plus his mailman used to read his mail and deliver letters to him that were opened. I have thought differently on our system since.
Aww, J. You never had street cred. Your cred is so much better!
Two interesting URLs for you:
There are others, but with two, you can at least do a three-way compare with your book, and see if they are trying to smoke you or not. Best of luck! I have my own expensive hobby, and it netted me about $350, one time — if I hustled it, I could make more sporadically; I am happy to know it is there at least.
Oooh thx! Appreciate the links!
What’s your hobby? :)
Really cool! My husband used to have a small stamp collection but I’m not sure what happened with it.
Maybe he pawned it to get your ring? :)
These are awesome…can’t wait to hear what they are worth!
You sure will! If I ever figure it out ;)
What a coinincidence, my father recently found a bag full of old stamps, mostly from here, with a few from overseas. He wants me to check the values for him. I guess I need that book as well, thanks for doing the work for me.
Hopefully you get lucky and hit the jackpot too!
I think the evaluation might be money well spent. The problem for us DIYers is that we are unlikely to gain expertise in the timeframe allowed. If you were to try to evaluate the value of the stamp book, you might undervalue it by much more than the $160 charged by the professional. Of course, you might be out some money if the stamps aren’t worth much, but your ‘floor’ for a loss isn’t that low: you’re only possibly out $180 total. I’d say the upside for an accurate estimate (preferably from someone who does not buy stamp collections, to avoid a possible conflict of interest) would be worth the money.
Thanks man. And even if I lose the $180 completely at least I learn a helluva lot, right? Then maybe at a next yard sale I’ll be able to decipher a golden stamp and it’ll all have been worth it, haha…
This brings back so many memories. My sister was very into stamp collecting growing up and developed quite a collection. My interest went towards baseball cards which I still have today. And I agree, it’s very hard to lay down the collector hobby once you get it going. It can get very expensive depending on what you are collecting.
Oh man, I still have my baseball/basketball collection too. So much fun back in the day!!!
You should check out the Smithsonian Postal Square Museum in DC
Didn’t even know that was a thing! Adding it to my list – thank you!
As a collector since I was 7, the value of stamps have gone up and down over the years, there are all kinds of ways stamps are collected. There are cover, first day cover, mint, used, cancelled, plate blocks, plain old blocks, coils, stamps collected in year ranges, back of the book and on and on.
If you are looking to find values of stamps, you can try the Scott Catalogues, the USPS used to put one out as well, check out the American Philatelic Society, https://www.stamps.org, under Services. Linn’s Stamp News is another good site to try. (www.linns.com)
I am a member of that society…. stamp collectors are Philatelists….
I buy most of my stamps from other members in the way of monthly circuits, generally they are priced at a percentage of the “book value”
If you need help with resources contact me at my email. Additionally there are dealers that do not charge to appraise your collection. I have bought lots such as yours off of EBAY as well, so you might head over there and put some of your items into the search and see how much folks are paying.
There are many clubs out there, would say the yellow pages, but the internet for your area could probably do that better as well as other societies for the various specialties.
Good luck with your venture.
Thanks so much for sharing, Karl! This is great! You don’t happen to live in Virginia by any chance? And like free coffee/lunch/beer for stamp reviewing do ya? ;)
Gonna go check out those links in a few. You’re awesome.
Sounds awesomely amazing! You have awakened the small child in me and I want to start collecting again!
Go for it!! Seems like a lot of fun :)
I didn’t know you liked baseball cards. One more reason to heart this website.Stamps and coins kinds fits your branding whether that was intentional or not, Mr. President.
Ack! meant *kind of*
Anyone who calls me Mr. President is allowed to write anything they want :)
My father was working as a seaman before, he went to different places and he had lots of collections and one of his collections was stamp. He also had different coins and bills from other countries but sadly when we moved from our old house we lost his collections.
Awwww, what a cool group of collections though! He and I would have gotten a long pretty well! :)
Wow, J$, I’m beginning to feel psychic! On March 14, the day you officially launched cointhrill, I see that I left this comment: “. . . So wishing you the best of luck with cointhrill.com and predicting great success. What’s next–stamps? . . .”
(BTW, when I saw your headline for this piece, “Stamp’in My Way to Millions,” I got a slight jolt, thinking it was going to be about another form of stamping that we’ve discussed.)
But yes, I can see it all clearly . . . millions and millions!;)
HAH! Now can you use your powers to help me win the lottery? :)
I applaud you embracing your passion, especially if it comes at such an affordable price ($20 is an amount that you can easily lose on a speculation project). If it is something you enjoy and you can make a little money on the side in the process that’s a win win. Let us know what you find out. Now you have piqued my curiosity about the value of those cool stamp books.
Sure will bud. Definitely fun to wish, at the very least :)
Cool Collection. You certainly did better than $20, but it’s still not worth a whole lot. With stamps it depends on rarity and condition. Still, there’s some cool stuff on that U.S. page. Those long skinny stamps and some of the ones above them are revenue stamps from the 1860s -70s. During the Civil War, the north began taxing various legal transactions to raise money for the war effort and those stamps represent the taxes paid. They would have been affixed to the documents. For example, that blue 50 cent life insurance stamp would have been attached to a life insurance policy to demonstrate that the taxes had been paid when filed. You won’t get rich off this collection, but there’s some value there.
Well I’ll take “some value” over “zero value” any day :) So thanks! I still haven’t found anyone to take it to and get it fully appraised, but one of these days I will and then post up a follow up. It’s all rather intriguing to check out and look through in the meantime. Crazy how many hands some of these stamps have passed through before landing in a book 100+ years later. Appreciate the info on those revenue stamps too – very interesting!
Did you end up selling? If not, my daughter collects and likes the old stamps-USA. I would buy from you if still available. Thanks!
I decided to hold on to them :) I’m glad your daughter is expressing an interest in stamps though, because the hobby needs as many young fresh people it can get to keep it going!
I, inhweited a book of stamps that have stamps from all over the world. example a hitler stamp never used landing of Columbus stamps , signing of the declaration of independence every president with different values half stamps, Woodrow Wilson $5.00 Value the 1982 fifty state bird and flower mint set,,block of 16 stephens wattskearny expedition 1846 entery into santa fe to many from every country in the world if interested
I have a book of stamps from the early 1800s ive done so much research my head hurts. From types of watermark fluids to the tiny curves around the nose of a first issue 1 cent stamp types of paper printed on and 1 or 2 water marks ugg. I knew nothing till i started research. Some look alike but arent and have a num. Ha but i do know Herritage auction will do it if you just want to sell or auction. Good luck
Haha nice! Way to jump in and learn about it all like that. Early 1800’s from what I hear is where it’s at w/ stamps vs the more modern stuff (or even the early 1900’s). Hope you’re finding a lot of gems in there!
I went to Heritage auction this is so crazy they brifley like in less than 1 min. Looked through my stamps and coins. And basically becouse i may not have had the 500,000 dallar stamp with the upside down eagle they t urned me away. And knowing i for sure have an Andrew Jackson stamp they didnt even see worth 100,000 i knew they were only in it for the million dallar profit. I am going else where ive done my homework and they are too upity to even really look at what an individuale has LOL. Most of my stamps are minimum 1 to 2 a piece Ha. Im glad I went though cause now i can go foward with the knowledge i have. Good luck with yours have you been able to get yours situated better. Its a lengthy process of studies. Ive almost decided to take up appraisalls and authenticateing stamps and coins they get 300 per hour. Thats not too bad this day and time.
ouch – sorry to hear… I feel like the stamp industry has fallen a lot harder than the coin collecting industry that I’m more connected to. Maybe they only want the “big ones” as its what *investors* are looking for vs *collectors*? Either way – sucks they didn’t give you the time of the day :(
It’s a nice collection for 20$ but unfortunately unless they are mint u got ur money’s worth. The real Value is an unused stamp. The majority of what I saw I have mint. Because they are used there value is at 25cents a stamp. But I do see a few that may be worth a bit more which I’m sure u already know. The George Washington stamps especially have value. One in particular may be worth hundreds depending on many details unseen from the pic. Mint is the shit brother, to bad there used
Ahhhh good to know…
And probably should have known as a coin collector as condition makes or breaks most coins… thx for the insight!
I wNt to sell my rarest postel stamps and revenue stamps but how much cost nd how to sell them so plez give me advise to my email address
Wish I could help you, but I never figured out the best way to value/sell them :( Maybe see if there’s any stamp clubs or shows around where you live? I know that works well with the coin hobby.
So my mother-in-law, 78 is moving and found her long deceased husband’s (20 years older than her) file that had a book EXACTLY like the one on the right of your top picture. Gave it to me since when my brother passed he left tons of stamp albums where the years were marked on the pages and I sold them on eBay, after researching the value of them. (most all US stamps).This book is a puzzle, no dates, pages of different countries’ stamps, some postmarked quite heavily, and the old way of “mounting” them on the page kind of has part of the stamp stuck to the page. What I have found in my research is that non-postmarked stamps with original glue that used the newer mounting method ARE the best value. I checked your website because the title of “What the heck do I do with these stamps” and learn their value, yes and maybe sitting on millions of $$$$$ was what I need to find out about this book too. Since you posted in 2014, have you found out ANYTHING ?????
Hah – awesome!! Good work on all the research and being able to offload them on eBay! I’m not sure why it took me so long to see this comment, so I’m sorry about that one :(
Interestingly enough though I just handed them off to a friend who’s in a stamp & coin club to be put up in their next auction :) So I should find out something relatively soon! Similar to your research though, anyone who I *have* run these by all said the same thing about the postmarking and mounting system/etc. I.E. they’re all worth only like 20% of the value had they never been used before – womp womp…
I did have one stamp expert take a glance at some of the ones I picked out after doing some initial research, but he said none of them were super valuable and thought I could get $40 or $50 total for the lot if I was lucky. So there’s that, haha…
I thought you were similar situation. What I ended up doing is finding the most valuable stamps my 4000 stamp collection and getting them authenticated since I did find out the one where to buy them for catalogue price without certificate. After that I was able to make a few thousand dollars by auctioning off only 4 so far!
oh damn! well done!!! that’s impressive in this day of age as all I hear is how they’re all dropping in value and are a fraction of what they used to be a couple of decades ago. So you must have had some really spectacular stamps!
Hi i was wondering if anyone could refer me to some kinda help i Jane US,Espana,ifni and velencia stamps along with some old money I’m hoping that they could be worth something also the Espana stamps i have series of them can anyone hemp be out thank you
Hi guys I have a collection of rare stamps from 1883 till 1940s I was wondering if someone can help me to find the value?
If you want to do it yourself, I found this book helpful when I was going through mine: “The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Postage Stamps” It was really hard though, so I opted for having a friend bring them to a local stamp club he attended. That’s the route I’d go if you’re looking to sell them as they can not only value them, but then make an offer if interested :) (from everything I’ve heard though, they’re selling for 40%’ish of value these days…)
i have an old “modern album….with a lot of stamps from several countries…….album looks the one printed at the first of the notice…and all hundreds of other stamps in the collection….who would i call or e-mail to see if i have some value…..in this collection ? thank you james rhoads,,, temple, texas
Call or visit your nearest stamp club in your area! They can help value/sell it for you no problem :) You can also look out for coin and stamp shows and bring them there.
Hi J. Money, How did you make out on your stamp collection that you gave to a friend ? Anything of interest?
My wife and I were checking out stamps we own from early 1900’s-Most are from US and others are from foreign countries. It was a cool way to spend the evening.
Did you know 9/21 is free museum day? Check out the link for museums to visit….
Thanks for blogging about your interest in stamp collecting!
Oh cool! I’ve always appreciated stamps – especially the older ones – so I agree that sounds like a great way to spend an evening :)
As for my collection here – I ended up selling it to a friend for like $20 or $25 who was going to turn around and gift it to his brother who’s a big collector. So I didn’t make my millions off it, but it was good to finally pass it on to someone who could appreciate it even more while freeing up space in my house :)
Have fun at Museum day if you’re heading to it!
Hi my name is Jamie and I was just left by my father this stamp collection and im seeing that most of the stamps i have are supposedly worth thousands of dollars. I have ones unused washington 2 cents and also sheets of unused ones. I have no idea where to go or what to do with these. Any suggestions? I feel as though i may be sitting on a gold mine but dont want to get too excited in case they are some kind of copies or something. That would be my luck
Prob good not to get your hopes up for sure since the whole market has collapsed since your father collected, but you never know! There are gems out there that are highly sought after!
I’d search online for the nearest stamp *clubs* or stamp *shows* in your area, and if you don’t find any try *coin* clubs/shows and there should be one or two people who can guide you… The collectors there also usually like to buy up collections or at least can tell you the best way to do so.
Let me know how you make out – I’d be curious!
(PS: I sold my collection here to a friend in my coin club who’s brother collected stamps :) And turns out the collection wasn’t worth a whole lot, haha…)
Hey J. Money,
I know this post is pretty old and no one has posted on this for awhile, but I thought that I would give it a shot and post something a little more recent. I acquired some of my grandfathers stamps and he was a collector for the majority of his life. I have since become a hard-core philatelist and can’t get enough, That being said, I have learned a ton of useful info in the short time that I have been collecting and would love to chime in on your stamps if you’re for it. Just wanted to put my two cents in there and see what comes of it. Any help that I can give, let me know…
JK… p.s. those initials aren’t intended to mean Just Kidding… They are my initials ;)
Hey JK! J$ doesn’t write here anymore, but I’ll forward him your note. Thank you for the offer :). I can see how those initials can seem confusing haha!