Old stamps can indeed have monetary value. While not all stamps are valuable, some can fetch high prices in the market, especially if they have certain characteristics or meet specific criteria favored by collect
While rummaging through a box of dusty envelopes in my grandfather’s attic, I came across a treasure trove of old postage stamps.
Memories of my childhood fascination with these miniature works of art came flooding back. The colorful designs, intricate perforations, and mysterious stories they carry—every stamp seems to have hidden value beyond its face value.
But I think that a lot of people, like me, have inherited the hobby of stamp collecting from my grandfather. You may still be a carefree youth or already an expert in the field of stamps.
However, when you first face such a scene, one question must be on your mind: Do these old postage stamps worth any money?
Are they just relics of the past, or can they hide a fortune?
Let’s discover the wonderful world of old postage stamps and their value.
Are Old Stamps Worth Any Money?
Old stamps can indeed have monetary value. While not all stamps are valuable, some can fetch high prices in the market, especially if they have certain characteristics or meet specific criteria favored by collectors. Certain stamps can fetch six and sometimes seven figures.
Postage stamps issued after 1930 are only worth face value in the United States.
One of the main reasons was the widespread use and mass production of postage stamps during this period.
As printing technology improved and postal demands increased, postal authorities mass-produced stamps, making them more plentiful and more accessible to collectors.
In addition, the shift to self-adhesive postage stamps in the mid-20th century also contributed to the glut of available stamps. Introduced in the 1990s, self-adhesive stamps eliminated the need for traditional gum, resulting in an ample supply of stamps in pristine condition.
Additionally, stamp collecting declined in popularity during the second half of the 20th century with the rise of digital communication and alternative hobbies. This reduced demand for postage stamps issued after 1930, further affecting their market value.
For countries like China, stamps from the 1960s and 1970s tend to sell well. Old Commonwealth postage stamps are also worth valuing, as many pre-1960 Commonwealth postage stamps are precious.
However, it’s important to note that not all postage stamps issued after 1930 are worthless.
There are exceptions to this rule, such as stamps with misprints, unique varieties, limited editions, or stamps related to significant historical events.
These special stamps still hold significant value and command higher prices in the collector’s market.
Next, let’s look at how to judge the value of old stamps.
How Do I Find the Value of Old Stamps?
Figuring out how much a stamp is worth can be difficult.
But don’t worry! We have prepared a detailed operation guide for you!
In fact, several different factors come into play when determining the value of a stamp, and the importance of a used stamp is influenced by factors such as rarity, condition, age, historical significance, and collector demand.
If you’re interested in doing your stamp valuation, there are several different techniques you can use to determine if a stamp is valuable. This is a gradual process.
To find out the value of old postage stamps, you can follow these steps:
STEP1：Determine the year of release
As mentioned earlier, the year a stamp was issued is critical. Therefore, you first need to determine whether the stamp was issued before or after 1930.
STEP2：Check the overall condition of the stamp
Another critical factor in determining a stamp’s value is its condition. Stamps in good condition are usually worth more.
Key things to look for when evaluating a stamp’s condition include the physical condition of the stamp and how well the stamp is centered.
Stamps in good physical condition will have no warping, tears, or other damage (tears, stains, or creases), while well-centered stamps will have equal white space around the edges.
Once you’ve assessed the condition of your stamp, you can grade it.
There are three distinct categories in stamp grading, including “Minute” (M), “Used” (U), and “Unused and No Glue” (NG).
To provide a brief overview:
1. Mint (M): Stamps in this category are still in their original, pristine condition from when the postal service issued them. Mint stamps should have no signs of wear, damage, or postmarking. They should also have their original gum (adhesive) intact.
2. Used (U): Used stamps have been through the mail system and show signs of postmarking or cancellation. They may have minor wear or faults, such as small tears, creases, or hinge remnants. The cancellation should be clear of the design, and the stamp should still be recognizable and collectible.
3. Unused without gum (NG): This category is typically used for stamps that were issued without gum or have had the gum removed. Stamps without gum may have been used for various purposes, such as office use or favor cancellation. While unused, the absence of gum reduces their desirability and value compared to mint-condition stamps.
It’s important to note that within these broad categories, stamps can be further classified based on their specific condition using additional descriptors such as “Mint Never Hinged” (MNH) for mint stamps with intact gum and no hinge marks, or “Fine Used” (FU) for used stamps in excellent condition with clear cancellations.
STEP3：Make sure the stamp doesn’t have a hinge
What is a stamp hinge?
A stamp hinge is a small strip of adhesive-backed paper or plastic stamp collectors use to mount stamps in albums or stock books. It allows the stamp to be securely attached while also enabling easy removal of the stamp without damage.
A stamp hinge is usually a rectangular strip with adhesive on one side and a gummed surface on the other. Wet the sticky side to activate the gum, then attach the hinge to the back of the stamp. Collectors can then attach the hinges to album pages or inventory books, allowing the stamps to be displayed securely.
Why are stamps without hinges worth more?
Stamps without hinges are usually mint or unused (unused, without gum), and they are generally in better condition with no wear or blemishes. This makes them even more popular among collectors, as they show the stamps in their original condition.
Stamps are attached to philatelic albums using hinges, and these hinges often leave marks after they are posted. Stamps without hinges are relatively rare on the market because they have not undergone this pasting process. Therefore, stamps with hinges are more abundant and collectible.
STEP4：Determining demand for stamps
Once you’ve identified the year of issue and assessed the condition of your stamps, you can see if there is demand for stamps.
This is important because stamps with little or no demand are less likely to fetch good money.
Demand for stamps can be checked through auctions, attendance at local stamp exhibitions, and more.
Note that only official stamp auctions can be used for this process, as general auction sites sometimes manipulate the visibility of certain items, resulting in a drop in value.
STEP5：The stamp contains a rare bug
Stamps with unique or striking designs (including errors or misprints) may be sought after by collectors. Look for any design variations, color variations, inverted or missing elements, or other typographical errors that might increase the value.
STEP6：Stamp on its original envelope
One thing that can increase the value of a stamp is if it’s still on the original envelope it was used on. It also means that the stamps are well-preserved and have not been torn.
This can sometimes command a substantial stamp premium well above the stamped value.
A precious stamp still attached to the envelope with its original adhesive would be worth more since it has been preserved for such a long time.
STEP7：Research stamps online
One of the easiest ways to determine if a stamp is valuable is to do some online research. Many websites can help with this, including auction sites, philatelic forums, communities, and more.
You can also use social media to get in touch with other stamp collectors. However, we recommend caution with this method, as other enthusiasts may try to trick you by implying that the stamp is worth less than it is.
Although the value of old stamps is essential, you must know that old stamps will also expire!
When will the old postage stamps expire?
When Do Old Stamps Expire?
Regular stamps without barcodes will no longer be valid after July 31, 2023. This comes after the introduction of a six-month grace period after the original January 31 deadline.
Royal Mail said that “items bearing non-barcoded definitive stamps after January 31, 2023, will be delivered as usual for the first six months at no additional charge”.
The company added: “After this six-month grace period, items with non-barcoded stamps will be considered underpaid. Any underpaid items will be subject to a surcharge. The surcharge can be found on our website.”All standard stamps will be replaced.
However, Royal Mail does not add barcodes to special issue stamps (stamps made to commemorate a person or event), so these will remain valid and cannot be exchanged.
Have to be aware of is:Christmas stamps are still valid even without a barcode.
So what do you do if you have postage stamps that are about to expire?
How to Exchange Old Stamps
If you do have stamps in your home that will expire after July 2023, you can return them to the post office for a new barcoded stamp of the same value (if not an exact match, the stamp you sent will be rounded up to the nearest two postage stamps).
■ If you are exchanging stamps for less than £200 please download this form from the Royal Mail website and send it with your stamps and write Freepost SWAP OUT on the envelope. Self-adhesive stamps must be affixed to the original backing paper or book. You will need to apply all non-self-adhesive stamps to the paper.
■ If you are exchanging stamps over £200 you will need to use the bulk exchange form and send to Royal Mail Swap Out, Tallents House, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9PB, preferably using a tracked delivery service.
■ If you do not have a printer, please request the form here or pick it up at the post office or delivery office.
There is currently no deadline for stamp exchanges, and they aim to return your replacement barcoded stamp within 7 business days, but it could take as long as a few weeks. Initially, stamps were exchanged on a similar basis, but Royal Mail now says they can just send all secondary stamps with barcodes, regardless of what is being sent. I sent 6 European stamps and received six £1.85 barcoded stamps in return.
If you send commemorative or Christmas stamps in for an exchange, they may be exchanged, but may also be returned to you as they are still valid.
If you don’t want to exchange your old stamps, you can also choose to cash in your old stamps.
Where to Sell Old Stamps?
There are several options for selling old postage stamps:
- Online Auctions: Sites such as eBay, Delcampe, and HipStamp provide a platform for individuals to sell stamps to a large audience. You can create listings with detailed descriptions and images of stamps, set a starting price, or place bids using the auction format.
- Online marketplaces: Consider stamp marketplaces dedicated to stamp collectors, such as Philasearch or Stampworld Marketplace. These platforms connect buyers and sellers within the philatelic community.
- Stamp Dealers: Find a stamp dealer who specializes in buying and selling stamps. They have expertise in valuing stamps and may offer fair prices based on market demand. You can find stamp dealers locally or search for reputable dealers online.
- Stamp Exhibitions: Attend stamp exhibitions or exhibitions where you can interact with collectors, dealers, and experts. Many shows have areas dedicated to buying and selling stamps. This allows you to directly engage with potential buyers and negotiate prices in person.
- Philatelic associations and clubs: Establish connections with local or national philatelic associations and clubs. These organizations often have a network of collectors who may be interested in purchasing stamps. You can attend conferences, conventions, or events to showcase your stamps and network with potential buyers.
- Online classifieds and forums: Utilize online classifieds sites, such as Craigslist or Gumtree, to list the stamps you want to sell. Also, participate in philatelic forums and discussion boards where you can promote your stamps to philatelists who may be interested in purchasing them.
Before selling your stamps, it is advisable to research the market value of your collection according to the methods we mentioned above, consult stamp catalogs or price guides, and consider seeking a professional appraisal to ensure you get a fair price for your stamps.
Old Stamps Price List – The Most Valuable Stamps of All Time
Now you have learned whether old stamps are worth money, how to judge the value of old stamps and so on.
As we mentioned above:
Yes! Old stamps are valuable!
I believe you must also be convinced of this conclusion.
But. . .
How much are old stamps worth? Is there a price list for old stamps?
Yes! You can refer to the old stamp price list below:
|Adjusted price||Original price||Item(s)||Country||Year||No. in existence||Date of sale||Seller||Buyer||Auction house|
|$23,200,000||$17,400,000||Red Revenue block of four and sheet of 25 5-candarin Large Dragon stamps||Qing China||1878 (Large Dragons)1897 (Red Revenues)||Unknown (Large Dragons)1 known (Red Revenues block of four)32 known (Individual Red Revenues)||2009||Lam Manyin||Ding Jingsong||Unknown|
|$12,100,000||$11,200,000||“Ball Cover” with Mauritius 1d red (XX)||British Mauritius||1847||3 known||June 26, 2021||Anonymous||Anonymous||Christoph Gärtner|
|$11,719,000||$9,480,000||British Guiana 1c magenta||British Guiana||1856||1 known||June 17, 2014||Estate of John du Pont||Stuart Weitzman||Sotheby’s, New York|
|$8,103,000||$4,000,000||“Bordeaux Cover” with Mauritius 2d blue (XXII) and Mauritius 1d red (XXI)||British Mauritius||1847||Unique||1993||Anonymous||Anonymous||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$5,900,000||$4,800,000||Inverted Jenny block of four||United States||1918||1 (as block of four)100 (as individual stamps)||October 4, 2014||Donald Sundman||Anonymous||Private sale|
|$4,450,000||$2,970,000||Z Grill||United States||1868||2||2005||Donald Sundman||Bill H. Gross||Private exchange|
|$4,292,000||$2,300,000||Treskilling Yellow||Sweden||1855||1 known||1996||Anonymous||The Box AB||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$3,649,000||$1,900,000||“Missionary cover” with Hawaiian 2c Blue, 5c Blue and two United States 3c Brownish Carmine||Hawaii and United States||1852||Unique||November 7, 1995||The Honolulu Advertiser Collection||Anonymous||Robert A. Siegel, New York|
|$3,290,000||$2,690,000||“Bombay Cover” with two Mauritius 1d red (XVIII & XIX)||British Mauritius||1847||Unique||2016||Anonymous||Anonymous||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$2,850,000||$2,190,000||1⁄2grano blue “error of colour”||Two Sicilies||1859||2||June 10, 2011||Anonymous||Anonymous||Galerie Dreyfus, Basel|
|$2,760,000||$1,900,000||“Rush 1847 Cover” with strip of six 10c black stamps||United States||1847||Unique||May 13, 2006||Anonymous||Anonymous||Robert A. Siegel, New York|
|$2,580,000||$1,900,000||“Xiphopagus Triplet” with two 30r and one 60r stamps||Brazil||1843||Unknown||June 5, 2008||The Islander Collection of South America||Anonymous||Robert A. Siegel, New York|
|$2,330,000||$1,150,000||Mauritius 2d blue (III)||British Mauritius||1847||12 known||1993||Anonymous||Mauritian private consortium||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$2,300,000||$2,000,000||The Whole Country is Red||People’s Republic of China||1968||Unknown||November 23, 2018||Anonymous||Anonymous||China Guardian, Beijing|
|$2,210,000||$1,680,000||“Champion” letter with two 5-centime Strubels in blue misprint and brown 5-centime Strubel||Switzerland||1855||Unique||June 10, 2011||Anonymous||Anonymous||Galerie Dreyfus, Basel|
|$2,182,000||$1,605,000||“Trondheim” block of 39 4-skilling stamps||Norway||1855||Unique||April 2008||Anonymous||Anonymous||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$2,000,100||$1,471,500||Baden 9 Kreuzer error||Baden||1851||4||April 3, 2008||Anonymous||Anonymous||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$1,856,000||$1,593,000||Inverted Jenny||United States||1918||100||November 15, 2018||Anonymous||Anonymous||Robert A. Siegel, New York|
|$1,748,630||$1,344,180||Mauritius 2d blue (XIII)||British Mauritius||1847||12 known||June 28, 2011||The Chartwell Collection of Humphrey Cripps||Anonymous||Spink, London|
|$1,396,290||$1,073,340||Mauritius 1d red (X)||British Mauritius||1847||15 known||1993||Anonymous||Mauritian private consortium||David Feldman SA, Geneva|
|$1,350,000||$1,180,000||Alexandria “Blue Boy” cover||United States||1847||Unique||June 22, 2019||Anonymous||Anonymous||H.R. Harmer, New York|
|$1,223,000||$900,000||B Grill||United States||1867-8||4 known||October 28, 2008||The Perry Hansen Collection of U.S. Stamps and Covers||Anonymous||Robert A. Siegel, New York|
|$1,219,000||$970,000||Red Revenue||Qing China||1897||32 known||2013||Anonymous||Anonymous||Interasia Auctions, Hong Kong|
|$1,150,000||$600,000||2-cent unused Hawaii “Missionaries” stamp||Hawaii||1851||1 (unused)15 (total)||November 7, 1995||The Honolulu Advertiser Collection||Anonymous||Robert A. Siegel, New York|
Congratulations! You have followed our article to have a deeper understanding of old stamps!
In conclusion, the question of whether old stamps are worth any money is not a simple one. While not every old stamp will fetch a significant monetary value, there are indeed stamps with exceptional rarity, unique designs, historical importance, or printing errors that can command substantial prices in the philatelic market. Additionally, stamp collecting offers more than just financial rewards. It provides a gateway to a rich tapestry of history, art, and culture, allowing us to appreciate the intricate craftsmanship and storytelling encapsulated within these tiny pieces of paper. Whether you are a collector, a hobbyist, or simply someone curious about the world of stamps, exploring their worth can be an exciting journey of discovery and appreciation.