Pricing guides and catalogs on stamps are a collector's first step in identifying his stamps' overall value. Collectors should take the time to verify the condition of the stamp, as well as its authenticity and rarity, before attempting to sell their trades. This is especially true for high-value stamps that undergo extensive scrutiny by numerous experts before any final purchase can be made. Purchasing a certificate of insurance for your most valued stamps can help ease a buyer's concern.
Purchase a stamp value catalog. There are also numerous online catalogs specializing in various categories, such as country of origin or time period, that can be accessed free to help save collectors time and money.
Handle stamps with special stamp tongs to avoid tearing or causing damage from oils on your fingertips, which will affect the worth.
Use the perforation gauge and watermark kit to accurately identify stamps and avoid look-a-likes. Use a magnifying glass to identify small details and markings.
Look up the range and value of your stamps in the catalog. Pricing will be based on rarity, condition and the type of stamp (mint, used or unused). Be aware that every flaw dramatically reduces the value of the stamp.
Contact a stamp dealer or expert to verify the worth of the stamp. Prices in the catalog are only guidelines, and worth mostly depends on the demands of buyers. There are hundreds of organizations and clubs available to help collectors determine their stamps' value, including the American Philatelic Society.
Remember that few collectors get deals based on catalog prices. It is very common for sellers to receive 60 percent less than the estimated value on each stamp.
Stamp collectors who are unsure as to how to properly use the watermark trays and perforation gauge should contact an expert for help. Damage done to stamps while identifying them will affect their overall worth.