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How To Make Money Selling Stamps Online

10 min read

Have you heard the one about Phil lately? No? Well, keep me posted.

That, my friends, was a stamp joke. Philately is the study of postage stamps and postal history—a history that will now include this stamp joke as one of the worst ever told.

If I haven’t already lost you, please keep reading, and I promise this will be a first-class guide to the world of selling stamps online. Whether you’ve inherited a stamp collection from a relative or are already a veteran stamp collector, this article can help with answers to questions like: Where can I sell my stamps? And how do I sell rare stamps?

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Authenticating and Pricing Your Stamps

While it is possible to simply list your stamps on eBay or another marketplace, you may have difficulty attracting customers and you run the risk of undervaluing your collection. If you think you may have a sought-after or rare stamp, it’s worth taking the time to research. You might still decide to sell the stamps independently, but you’ll have an easier time setting prices and writing descriptions for potential buyers.

The Scott Catalogue, which comes in both print and digital forms, is the authoritative guide to stamps. Published each year, the Catalogue contains lists and images of stamps, along with estimated values and other identifying information. Collectors utilize the guide when buying, selling, and trading, so this is a great starting point when you’re ready to sort and price your stamps. The publisher also offers specialized guides, which focus on specific countries or stamp types. The cost of the catalogue can be prohibitive, so check your local library or any stamp collecting groups you might be aware of to borrow a copy!

The American Philatelic Expertizing Service (APEX) offers expert opinions on the genuineness of stamps and other philatelic materials (for a fee). APEX, which is a trusted service housed within the offices of the American Philatelic Society (APS): “utilizes the services of more than 160 specialists and a variety of high-tech equipment to provide guaranteed opinions.” This means that APEX can evaluate your stamps and certify their authenticity and value. Detailed instructions can be found here, but to use the service you will need to fill out an application form and submit it with your stamps, mount each stamp to a form, and mail the forms and fees. APEX expertizing is priced depending on the value of the stamps you submit (as according to the Scott Catalogue and stamp’s condition), and the pricing table can be found at the link above. APS members receive a discount on the expertizing fees, so you might consider joining the society if you expect to be in the upper categories of the fee table.

It is possible to sell your stamps without having them evaluated, but certain sites and buyers will want to know that a stamp is authentic before purchasing anything at a high price point. Additionally, expertizing services grade the condition of stamps based on a number of criteria, including the condition of their adhesive (referred to as gum), their perforations, margins, and any faults. This grade affects the value of the stamp and is difficult for a non-expert to assign.

Before we move on, I’d also like to note that APEX isn’t the only expertizing service out there. The other major players in stamp expertizing include The Philatelic FoundationPhilatelic Stamp Authentication and Grading Inc., and Professional Stamp Experts. Each service has varying fees and submission processes so you may want to review each site before deciding.

Selling Your Stamps

After you’ve confirmed the contents of your stamp collection, it’s time to start selling! Depending on how well-connected you are in the world of stamps, the amount of time you have, and your technical expertise, there are a variety of options to choose from. Find recommendations below for a few great places to sell stamps.

The American Philatelic Society (mentioned above) is the largest non-profit organization for stamp collectors in the world. In addition to their other services, APS runs StampStore, which they describe as “the source for high-quality stamps, postal history, and other philatelic items.” If you’re looking for the easiest method of selling your stamps, APS StampStore might be the best option for you because APS does most of the work. You’ll need to complete a submission sheet for each item you’re hoping to sell and then put everything in the mail.

The information you’ll need to provide includes the stamp’s country, Scott Catalogue number, year, color, condition, and the price at which you’d like the stamp to sell. APS will scan images of your stamps and upload them with descriptions. They’ll also handle advertising, answering buyer questions, payment processing, shipping, and any returns. You will remain anonymous, never having to deal with customers and collecting your earnings once the stamps sell!

Of course, APS includes a submission fee for each item ($0.25) and earns a commission (20 percent) on all items sold. It’s not required that your items be professionally certified, but you won’t be able to assign a grade in the description without having them expertized, and all items priced at $500 or more must include a certificate of authenticity. You can check out APS StampStore’s terms of sale and decide if this hands-off approach is the right one for you.

eBay is home to a thriving stamp marketplace and makes a good option for sellers who are less interested in going through the expertizing process and may have less-valuable stamps. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money, as many potential customers use eBay to add to their collections. If you browse the current stamp listings on eBay, you’ll see that stamps are broken down into a variety of categories (US, European, uncertified, Topical, Specialty, etc.). You may also notice that people sell stamps of all kinds, in all conditions, without grades, and in large grab-bag-style bundles. This speaks to the ease of selling on eBay—a market with perhaps less expertise than those run by philatelic societies.

To get started, you’ll first need to create a seller account, which is an easy process that requires you to input your email, name, address, and telephone number. Next, you’ll create a listing. You’ll input a title for the item you’re selling, its country of origin, and various descriptors including the quality, particular features, a grade (if applicable), and the stamp’s certification status. You’ll also be able to categorize your stamp listing (historical, aviation, etc.) to ensure it can be found by customers with a specific search in mind. You’ll then upload photos of the stamp and write a detailed description making potential buyers aware of any unique features or flaws. Finally, you’ll set a starting bid for your stamp and customize your listing with the length of the auction, whether you’d like buyers to be able to make direct offers, whether the stamp can be purchased immediately (bypassing the auction), and other criteria.

Like all marketplaces, eBay does have fees associated with making sales on the site, but they’re not as stringent as some other options. While eBay does have an insertion (or listing) fee, they also offer 250 zero insertion fee listings per month. This means that if you upload fewer than 250 items per month, you’ll never have to pay to list your stamps! When an item sells, eBay retains a final value fee, which is calculated based on the price and type of item. A percentage of the total amount of the sale (usually between twelve and fifteen percent) plus $0.30 per order will be deducted from your profit.

Ecwid, an ecommerce platform where you can create your own online store, is a great option if you’d like to keep total control of your stamp selling. Set up a customizable website in minutes, upload stamps, and share your inventory across a variety of marketplaces—including eBay, Amazon, and even Instagram. Best of all, Ecwid offers free accounts that you can keep as long as you need. Try it out if you’re interested in setting up a stamp store that’s all your own!

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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