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Philatelist Business: How Selling Stamps Can Make You Rich

14 min read

If you’re anything like us, you read that and said “what the heck is a philatelist?” Well, Merriam-Webster defines a philatelist as “a specialist in philately: one who collects or studies stamps.” Pretty straightforward. But did you know you can make money selling the stamps you collect? Wow! Creating a philatelist business is easier than it may sound; you just need to know your way around the industry.

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How Do I Start Selling Stamps?

Well, first, you’ll have to start collecting stamps. To do this, it’s important to start learning the hip lingo surrounding the biz:

  • philatry: the study of postage stamps
  • definitive stamp: a stamp intended for everyday use
  • commemorative stamp: a stamp that commemorates a theme or event (sometimes referred to as “special”)
  • used: a stamp that has been used and bears the mark of a postmark
  • mint: a stamp in a perfect (or mint) condition bearing its original gum and has not been canceled
  • cancellation: a stamp with a postal mark on top of it to show it’s been through postage and cannot be used again
  • perforation: the means of making stamp separation and removal easier by removing small pieces from the gaps between stamps

Familiarizing yourself with these terms will not only boost your confidence, but it will assist you in collecting valuable stamps and reselling them.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the lingo, learn about the kinds of stamps you should be collecting. To have a monetizable stamp collection, you may want to focus on historic and commemorative stamps, ensuring you keep them in mint condition (or making sure you don’t damage them any further). Historic stamps may be difficult to find in mint condition, but it does happen!

What Do I Need to Start My Collection?

When you first start your stamp collection, you’ll need to invest in a few things. But you have to spend money to make money, right? Buy a large stamp album to keep all of your stamps neatly organized, a stamp catalog (though you may be able to find these for free), a magnifying glass, stamp hinges or mounts depending on the type of album purchased), and tweezers to ensure you don’t touch the stamps. It may sound like a lot, but soon, you’ll be rolling in the dough.

Where Can I Buy Stamps?

There are many places where you can buy stamps. Assuming you are in the US, you can buy new stamps, both standard and commemorative, at your local post office, most greeting card shops, and mailing places. You can also purchase stamps online through websites such as stamps.com.

However, if you’re looking for older stamps, it’s going to take a bit more digging. First, ask your family! They may have some stamps to give to you that they haven’t thought about since George Bush was in office. However, it’s probably a good idea to be upfront about what your intentions are. Don’t let them think they’re passing on a family legacy when you intend to get rich. Being dishonest in situations like this might be lucrative at the moment, but the truth always has a way of finding its way to the surface in the long run. This could potentially hurt your reputation for future business transactions.

Another great way to find stamps to buy is to look outside of your country. Foreign resources can often yield a treasure trove of great stamps that you might not find anywhere else. They can also help you broaden your circle of contacts, allowing for a greater line of widespread communication. After all, much of this business is conducted via word of mouth, so broadening your scope of contacts can surely help increase the chance of finding a rare new addition for your collection. Talk to family and friends who live abroad. They’ll be a great starting place if the option is available.

Remember, it’s as much about the research you do on your own time as it is the connections you make along the way.

Two worlds that often coincide are the worlds of the stamp collector and the history buff. A stamp’s value can depend on the time it was printed as well as the historical events of the time when it was made. Knowing a good amount of history on a local and global level will certainly aid in finding the next big rate stamp. Historical stamps can be purchased online, on accounts such as eBay.

And of course, don’t forget to get social! There are many stamp exchange groups on social media. However, we recommend getting very familiar with how much stamps are worth so you aren’t the victim of a con. While most group admins try to stop this kind of behavior, they can’t police everyone. Your best line of defense is knowledge.

How Many Stamps Do I Need to Start Selling?

It could seem pretty overwhelming at first. After all, with all the stories of people striking gold with their one thousand count Pokemon card collection from their child, it’s easy to feel like there’s a one in a million chance of making a living off your collection. Well, like any business venture, it all depends on the circumstances. How much money do you want to make? We suggest curating a solid collection before you begin to sell. This can take a great deal of research with data that is constantly shifting. Similar to stocks, what is high value and low value can change daily.

It’s difficult to stay on top of the research, but don’t let that discourage you. The best thing you can do is just keep collecting as regularly as you can. Many stamp enthusiasts look for specific stamps to add to their collection, so the more you own, the better chance you’ll sell something!

How Much Are Stamps?

OK, so this has a complicated answer. But hang in there, we’ll explain it. We’ll start with the easy stuff: the monetary value of stamps all depends. Assuming you live in the US and are buying stamps brand spanking new, as of November 12th, 2021, a first-class USPS stamp purchased at the post office is 58¢, and the same stamp was 58¢ when purchased online. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the price of new issue stamps is fluid. If you want to purchase a book of stamps, you’re looking at anything from $11 to $65. It all depends on how many stamps are in your book.

So, now it’s getting a bit more complicated. It’s a general rule of thumb that older stamps cost more than their modern counterparts. However, this isn’t always the case. Stamps printed in the past 70 years are generally not as valuable. Why? Because when the hobby of stamp collecting took off in the 1930s, hobbyists flocked to the stores and bought so many stamps that it caused a shortage. In an attempt to combat the shortage, the US government began overprinting stamps. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the valuable stamps.

Knowing Their Value

The art of collecting and trading is an ever-changing market. Product values are constantly shifting and you need to keep a keen eye on things because despite what seems to be chaotic, it is possible to track various trends and patterns. We’ve dug a bit into the question of “how much do stamps cost,” but there are still some more specific terms that are necessary to understand before jumping into the business.

The first thing to be aware of is the resources that are at your disposal. Stamp catalogs are published annually that give you the Catalog Value Versus Market Value prices. These catalogs are similar to the Farmer’s Almanac of stamp collectors. They offer past data and future predictions to allow a collector to make the most informed decision possible. These catalogs take many factors into account when discerning the value of various stamps.

Different factors come into play when determining their worth. A few of these factors would include the condition of the stamp, whether its mint, the year it came from, how sought after it was, and so on.

Getting a good grasp on these things will make it easier to wade through the vast amount of information that you will be subject to upon getting involved in a profession like this one. It’s similar to learning a new skill. Take learning how to swim or ride a bike for instance. In the beginning, it will always feel a bit awkward. It’s hard to get the right footing or balance. Wading around a pool seems scary or foreign, and going down a big hill on a bike for the first time will always be a terrifying attempt.

After a while though, pushing through the initial obstacles, that fear will very quickly turn into fulfillment. All the movements and concepts that were once awkward will become as simple as walking. In turn, navigating the information available in regards to stamp collecting and trading will become that much more of a second nature habit over time.

Patience Is Key

When wondering how much stamps cost and starting to understand the ropes of collection trading and so on, the number one thing to keep at the front of your mind is patience. Patience is key when it comes to all things. Learning a new skill, tackling a new book, trying new food, getting into a new genre of music, or even picking up a video game for the first time can take some time. It takes patience to gain a natural affinity for these things, and the same concept applies to stamp collecting and trading.

There is a lot of information to absorb. How much do stamps cost? How much is a book of stamps? How many stamps are in a book? Who sells stamps? These questions will be easy to answer over time. Before you know it, it will be as simple as walking down the street or brushing your teeth.

The trends and patterns of the trading market will come into focus and it will be possible to make your predictions and inferences without the need to always refer to catalogs and outside resources. That’s not to say that it’s wise to neglect these resources. On the contrary, nothing can hurt a practice more than a big ego, and it’s better to realize that it will become easier to apply those outside resources to your stamp collecting and trading business practices.

Let’s think about a few more aspects of stamp trading that will require a great deal of patience. Take, for example, appraisals, and their importance in getting an accurate gauge on how much a stamp, or stamps, are worth. Appraisals are professional assessments that are given on an object by someone experienced enough in a field to give a credible value.

This is done for all sorts of things, from houses to automobiles to pieces of art. For stamps, the criteria that are mainly being looked into are Catalog Value, Replacement Value, Potential Auction Realization, retail value, and wholesale value. Yeah, it’s a lot of moving parts and variables, so it’s pretty easy to see how it requires a large amount of patience to manage and suffer through.

The sad truth is that there are also a lot of stamps out there that are simply worthless. Don’t let this discourage you. Instead, be sure to collect as many as possible. Nobody ever knows what the value of something is going to be tomorrow. I mean, look at Bitcoin and how that grew. Now cryptocurrencies are as commonplace as the dollar. The same could happen with your stamp business.

Ecwid is here to help. Our free trading services are readily available to offer a great and reliable place to set up shop. From online music trading to clothing and so on, Ecwid will give anyone looking to establish an online business an easy way to get their foot in the door, no postage required.

Do you want to learn more about selling stamps online?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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