In the past, we’ve written about how people often ignore the value of their physical assets, especially coins that they may have inherited from a loved one and stored somewhere. If you found your grandfather’s stamp collection buried in the basement, you would probably be tempted to repack the box and think of it as a sentimental relic. However, this could be a mistake, not only because of the potential value of the collection, but because you might be missing out on an enjoyable hobby.
Philately first appeared in England in the 1840s, shortly after the first stamp, “Penny Black” was printed. Over the years it has evolved into an intellectual pursuit and a study of history. The stamps are snapshots of the past, capturing images of revered leaders, events and social causes. They can also be extremely valuable, such as those created as a result of a printing error or canceled prematurely. The “Benjamin Franklin Z Grill” was only worth a cent when it was printed in 1868, but thanks to separate Z-shaped markings, one version was sold for over $ 900,000 and later traded for d other stamps worth three million. Even old stamps that turn out to be of little or no value (and there are a lot of them) provide valuable education.
You might be surprised to learn that some of the most famous people in the world were stamp collectors, including President Franklin Roosevelt; author Ayn Rand; Sally Ride, the first woman in space; Simon Wiesenthal, famous Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter; and even John Lennon. And while it might not be as common these days, stamp collecting is still a popular pastime around the world. Indeed, according to this article by The street, in 2017, almost a quarter of collectors invested their time and money in stamps – a larger share than antiques, automobiles and wine.
Most collectors would agree that collecting should be based on passion, not just financial performance. This is perhaps even more the case with stamp collecting, which is largely a solo activity. After all, it’s not like you’re going to have a bunch of people admiring your stamps like you would a painting on your wall. That said, there are different levels of obsession. A casual stamp collector may manage with tweezers, a magnifying glass, and an expert to advise them on purchases, while others will delve into the rich history behind each coin. To determine if they have a valuable coin or a simple look-alike, they will spend hours leafing through the official stamp catalogs; carefully count the number of perforations with a perforation gauge; and examine their stamps using a watermark detector, rather than just holding them up to the light. They are also very proud of their albums – sometimes bespoke – and mount the stamps themselves, as FDR has done throughout his four terms.
Either way, there are some steps you need to take to maintain the value of your stamps. They should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place where they will be out of direct sunlight and many experts also advise keeping them high up so that they cannot be destroyed during a flood. And whatever you do, don’t handle your tampons with your hands as the oils in your skin can damage them. Philately has continued to evolve in recent years, largely thanks to technology. As with any other physical asset, stamps can be digitally cataloged via a all-in-one solution – including photos and information on identifying marks, value and previous owners. Collectors can also communicate securely within these apps to arrange sales or trades, or just share their love of the hobby. Most importantly, these tools ensure that your collection will be included in your estate and family heirloom.