Other ways to sell your inherited Asian stamp collection

Approach an auction house that specializes in selling Chinese and Asian stamps. Ask them to look at your collection, assess its value and list the collection in their next public auction. I only suggest this for high value collections (worth $20,000 or more) with lots of scarce stamps in very fine (VF) or better condition. Otherwise, most auction houses will try to cherry pick a few high value stamps from your collection,  and leave you with the low value  and worthless stamps.  Auction houses are an EXPENSIVE way to sell your stamps. Auction houses charge a seller’s premium of 15-20%, and a buyer’s premium of 15-20%. Therefore, they will capture 30-40% of the total proceeds from selling your collection.

Let’s do the math on a hypothetical stamp sale through an auction house:  you have a high value stamp, such as a VF 1882 1c Large Dragon  (Scott Catalog #1 in China with a catalog value of approximately $700 -remember catalog value does NOT equal markey value).  The market value today for this stamp is normally 70% of catalog value.  This means the full cost for buyers to buy this stamp at auctions  is normally 70% of $700 or around $490. Therefore, a buyer is ussually only willing to pay around $490 for this stamp (after the buyer’s premium is factored in). This means buyers will bid around $392 at most auctions (this is the hammer price which is about 80% of the total price to the buyer of $490: .80 x 490= $392). I assume the buyer’s premium is 20% in this example. 

This math means that the auction house will be paid a buyer’s premium of $79 (20% buyer’s premium: .20 x 395= $79) and a seller’s premium of $79 (a seller’s premium of 20% .20 x 395=$79). In this instance, you (the seller) will net $316 for the stamp and the auction house will make $158 on the same stamp.  This is obviously a VERY EXPENSIVE way to sell your stamps. Sorry it is so confusing, but avid collectors and buyers do this math in their sleep!

This is how auction houses can pay for glossy catalogs to Fedex to their buyers, websites, office rent in big cities like New York and Hong Kong, and for their employees to fly around the country to look at stamps.  Running an auction house is a tough business. It requires large buyer and seller premiums to make money because of the high fixed cost of running an auction house. If you have a particularly valuable collection (total value in excess of $20,000),  I would encourage you to explore this option with the better auction houses in the US : Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in NYC,  Kelleher Auctions, or HR Harmer.  I am certain I can pay more for your Chinese stamps than you will net from a sale through an auction house since I operate out of low cost home office, don’t travel to look at collections and have low overhead. You will be paid faster by me because you won’t have to wait months for the auction to be completed to be paid. My investment company, JSF Holdings, Inc., has been in the investment business since 2001 and can purchase collections that are worth up to $250,000. Please compare my cash offer to an estimate provided to by an auction house. Click here to sell your stamps to me.

Approach a local stamp dealer that specializes in Chinese Stamps. Stamp dealers make money by buying stamps at the lowest price possible and then selling the stamps to collectors at a higher price. There are still some good dealers in large cities in the United States, although most dealers have gone out of business over the past 20 years since stamp collecting is no longer popular in the US and eBay has taken so much market share.  Most surviving dealers focus on US stamps and are not familiar with Chinese or Asian stamps. Therefore, when a US dealer looks at your Chinese or Asian stamp collection, he will likely offer you a low price.  This happens because it will take the dealer years to sell the stamps (his inventory) to his collectors.  US dealers build in cushion for their inexperience identifying, valuing and selling Chinese and Asian stamps.  Most dealers build a 200-300% mark-up into the price they are willing to pay for an inherited collection.  Even a good dealer,  with experience buying and selling Chinese stamps,  will typically build in a 50% + mark-up on hi-value desireble stamps from China. Getting an offer from a local dealer to buy your stamp collection makes sense if you have time to take your collection to a dealer that specializes in Chinese and Asian stamps. I can offer more for your collection than a dealer because my offer will reflect you and I sharing in the dealer mark-up (we both benefit).  Please let me provide you with an offer (click here).  

You could try to sell your inherited Chinese stamp collection on eBay.  eBay is more cost effective than using a traditional auction house. The seller premium is lower (around 15%). There are  good online auction houses that specialize in selling stamps on eBay: the two best known are NYStamps and CKStamps.   However, most eBay stores focus on US stamps and few  focus on Asia and China. Most eBay stamp stores do not sell on a consignment basis.

Auction prices that are realized on eBay are often lower (that is why I still buy some stamps on eBay) than at a traditional auction house.  This is because buyers can’t examine the actual stamp and there are so many bogus and fake stamps being sold on eBay. The stamp scams and frauds that have taken place on eBay are well publicized.  Read these articles if you want to learn more: 

Stamp buyers are aware of these issues and are not willing to pay top dollar for stamps offered on eBay. To list stamps on eBay you need to correctly identify and grade your stamps. This is a time intensive and requires expertise, experience, access to up to date Chinese stamp catalogs and auction results/realizations. I can assess your stamps faster and offer a higher price for your stamps so click here to get a free no-risk offer from me to buy your stamps.

You could take your inherited stamp collection to a pawn shop. Some pawn shops buy or make loans on Chinese stamps and stamp collections. Unfortunately, Chinese stamps are hard to identify and determine the exact value of, so most pawn shops do not buy or loan against Asian stamps. This may happen on a regular basis in China, but that is not the case in the US.

Even though websites such as eBay and Delcampe can help a pawn shop estimate the value of a stamp, prices that Chinese stamps sell for are inconsistent, particularly compared with the other items that a pawn shop takes in on a regular basis. This is because stamp prices vary based on condition and makes it difficult for pawn shops to figure out how much they can loan against Chinese stamps.

Pawn shops want collateral they can easily sell for a known price if the person pawning it forfeits the loan. Even though most people come back to redeem their pawned items, pawn shops estimate the real value of the collateral in case the borrower doesn’t pay off their loan.

If you are considering a pawn shop, you should identify each stamp that you want to pawn (provide a catalog # and catalog value). That way, when the pawnbroker is looking it up in a Scott Catalog, they will have a better idea how to value the stamp. My experience is that pawn shops will only loan 15-20% of CV for hi-value stamps that are easy to identify and value. Ungraded and unidentified stamps are not part of a pawn shop’s regular business. Do your homework and don’t expect a large loan or sale price from a pawn shop. Pawn shops are NOT a good way to sell Asian stamps.

 

You could have your stamps identified, graded and appraised, preferably by Professional Stamp Experts  or American Philatelic Society. This is expensive. It will cost $25-50 per stamp. PSE and APS are good at grading and identifying U.S. stamps, but I am not aware of a similar service for stamps from China and Asia. The professional identifying and grading of stamps is similar to getting a professional appraisal of a collection. This makes sense if you are certain your inherited collection contains lots of high value stamps, or you need an appraisal for estate or insurance purposes.  Most appraisers will need to know the purpose of the appraisal before being hired. They will tailor the appraisal depending on whether it is being done for insurance purposes, estate purposes or equitable distribution purposes.  Since appraisals are normally used for estate and insurance purposes, and are rarely used to estimate market value, they are not a good estimate of current cash value  (what the stamps could be sold for today).  Stamp dealers often do appraisals, but will normally charge you for the appraisal if you don't end up selling your stamps to them. The market price you receive for your stamps is determined by the demand and supply for the stamps in your collection and CONDITION, not the appraised value.  Market prices are volatile and often quite different than the appraised value of the stamps.  I  suggest getting offers from several cash buyers so you can compare your selling options. Click here to get an offer from me.

 


Here are some interesting articles on what to do with inherited stamp collection:

  • Click here to read Charles Myers book: I Inherited a Stamp Collection, Now What?
  • Click here to read American Philatelic Society’s article: Inherited a Collection? 
  • Click here to read Northwest Philatelic Library’s: SO YOU’VE INHERITED A STAMP COLLECTION – AND DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT?  A Practical Guide to Action for Non-collectors