How to Tell If Old Stamps Are Worth Money

By Matt McKinney
There are an estimated 5 million stamp collectors in the United States alone.

Postage stamps have delivered letters from place to place around the globe for more than 150 years. However, in today's world, the market for postage stamps doesn't just end with sending mail. Stamp collecting has long been a popular activity, but the craze over stamp collecting would not be nearly as intense without a way to monetize their values. For collectors, there are numerous ways to discover how much their stamps are worth.

Identify your stamp based on physical characteristics such as color and image. Observe whether the stamp is centered with a magnifying glass and make sure the margins around the image are even. Check for a date on which the stamp was issued and whether there is still has its gum on the back. Stamp collectors pay large amounts for rare stamps with the gum still intact.

Observe the condition of your stamp to get a sense of its potential worth. As with most collectibles, the value of stamps is directly linked to their condition. Look for tears or creases on the stamp. Stamps with water damage or other marks of poor preservation are worth considerably less than those in mint condition. You may want to seek an expert in stamp restoration if you believe the damage can be repaired.

Refer to a stamp catalog where you can reference characteristics such as the price and date of the stamp, as well as view photographs of the stamp to verify that you're looking up the correct one. There are publications both online and in print that specialize in antique postage assessing.

Seek other philatelists for the best stamp dealer in your area to assess the value of your stamp. Be aware that many stamp dealers charge for such services. Always seek multiple opinions when assessing your stamp's value.

Things Needed

  • Magnifying glass
  • Stamp catalog
  • Stamp dealer

Tip

Keep your stamps in a binder with plastic pages to preserve their condition.

Warning

Be aware of fake stamp dealers that may try to scam you. Keep your stamps in a safe place to protect from theft.

About the Author

Matt McKinney has written professionally since 2008. His work has appeared in publications such as "The Knox Student" and "Diminished Capacity," his campus literary journal. McKinney is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing at Knox College.