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Stamp’in My Way to Millions??

by J. Money on Monday, March 31, 2014

old stamp album collections

By now most of you know how much I love me some antique stuff. Whether it’s sexy coins, baseball cards, books, baby prams, or any other interesting collectibles I come across at yard sales and thrift shops.

Most times I usually look to add stuff to my own collection, but others I’m out on the hunt for items to flip and (hopefully) make a tidy profit from. Especially during fits of minimalism :) (Do you know how hard it is to hold back when you’re a natural collector of things?? It takes some major willpower!)

This brings us to a couple of stamp albums I picked up years ago mainly cuz they just looked so freakin’ cool, but also because one day I figured I’d probably try and sell them and see how much I made on the transaction. And this magical day is coming sooner than later because I can’t help my curiosity anymore as to what – if anything – they’re all worth!

All I know is the following:

  • They’re all super old, like from the 1800s and early 1900s
  • There’s *hundreds* of them, if not *thousands*
  • These “modern” books/albums were printed in 1915 and 1937
  • And the lady who consigned them – in her 60s her self – said they had belonged to her grandfather who collected for over 40 years while flying all around the world in the military. So not only do we have tons of US stamps in these books, but also hundreds from dozens of other countries too!
  • Oh, and I paid $20 in total from them :)

So I feel like there’s GOT to be some good money in these bad boys – at least more than my piddly $20 bucks right? RIGHT??? Any stamp collectors out there want to chime in and help a brother out? (I”ll pay you in beer?!)

Something else I know – or, I should say, heard of – was that stamps printed in the past 80-100 years usually aren’t worth much, but those before that have a better chance of being valuable. So I really think I’m sitting on a gold mine here. Or at least that’s what I’m going to pretend until someone proves me differently ;)

Here are a few of the inside pages… Tell me they’re not awesome??

old us stamps collection

old us stamps 2

old egypt stamps

It’s pretty interesting to see all the different kinds of denominations. We’ve got some 1 cents, 3 cents, 7 cents, and even some 1/2 cents scattered about. And then there’s some funky looking ones too like those elongated vertical George Washington strip stamps. Imagine what 50 cents was worth 100+ years ago?? I wonder what they were trying to ship with it?

And then we have the famous “air mail” stamps too – with the most famous one being that upside down plane that sold for hundreds of thousands a little while back. That’s literally the only stamp I’ve heard of before being worth anything, haha… But we do have some of these air mails in the book too:

old air mail stamps

Outside of that, though, I’m really at a loss… Unlike coins and other collectibles, there aren’t any dates on these guys so every time I try to look one up online I can never tell if it’s the same one or not! And there’s like a billion different variations of each old stamp! I don’t know how collectors do it… But I would like one of them to size up my collection for me and then provide me with lots of cold hard cash, thank you very much ;)

The History of Stamps

My only success so far has been learning about the history of how stamps came around back in the day. And it’s actually quite a fascinating story. Here’s a clip from the American Philatic Society (aka stamp collecting club):

“The birth of the postage stamp dates back to May 6, 1840, when Britain issued its first stamp, the “Penny Black”… In the early days of the postal service, stamps and envelopes did not exist… When you wanted to send a letter you would fold it up and seal it shut, and the person who received the letter had to pay for the delivery costs. Since rates at that time were very high, many people refused to accept letters. In fact, many people developed secret codes by which they could cheat the postal services. They would place secret marks on the outside of the letter that conveyed their message and all the addressee had to do was read the secret message, refuse to accept the letter, and thus not have to pay for it. Mainly for this reason, postal services turned to a means of prepaying postage.”

Kinda reminds me of the days of calling “collect” where you’d dial up a friend/family member and in the part where you’re supposed to say your name, you rattle off a quick message and then hang up once you know they’ve heard it. (For example – “Mom, pick me up!” which I used a solid 4 days a week during after school soccer practice ;))

Anyways, the entire history of our stamps is pretty neat, and you should def. check it out more some time when you’re bored or just want to learn something new.

As for my new interest in these tiny pieces of sticky paper, well, I hope to have an answer for you soon as to whether I’ll be a millionaire or not ;) I’ve asked a couple of coin friends if they have any connections to stamp dealers, since there often tends to be a cross over in the hobbies, but so far I’ve only got one response and for an evaluation it’ll cost me $160. And perhaps more, depending on the time involved.

I’m not sure I’m willing to pony up that much quite yet, unless they can tell me I’m DEFINITELY sitting on that gold mine (hardly likely), so for the time being I have ordered a stamp book on Amazon to see if I can decipher the code more myself. It’s called, “The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Postage Stamps” and it cost me a whopping $8.00 :) Figured this way I can learn a lot more about the hobby, as well as what to look for at future yard sales/shops/etc too. With any luck I’ll determine a good chunk of my stamps’ worth as well!

old us envelope stamps

But please – cross your fingers for me! I’m half excited about the process, but also very much half scared too, haha… I’ll be in deep doo-doo if I get addicted to yet another hobby outside of blogging and coins… And WHATEVER I do, do NOT – I repeat, do NOT – let me start a blog on stamps, okay?! I mean it! My street cred’s already shaky now with that coin blog ;)

Anyways, I’ll keep you posted on my findings…. If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because I’m chillin’ on the new island I bought…


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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dee @ Color Me Frugal March 31, 2014 at 7:06 am

Wow, I don’t know anything about stamps but yours look pretty cool! You’ll have to let us know how it goes and how much you get for them!

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2 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:07 am

Thanks! Sure will! :)

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3 Jon @ Money Smart Guides March 31, 2014 at 8:10 am

My grandfather gave me a handful of stamps before he passed away. I have them in my safe deposit box. Not sure if they are worth anything or not. They don’t seem like anything special, but then again, I could be sitting on millions and not even know it haha!!

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4 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:13 am

Exactly! You’ve got to be curious, right? We all need to take them to a dealer or something just to double check one of these days :)

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5 Laurie @thefrugalfarmer March 31, 2014 at 8:36 am

Wow, J$ – super cool!!!! This reminded me of Antiques Roadshow. You should bring ‘em to the show when it’s in your area and see what they say. :-)

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6 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

Ooooh perfect idea!! I tried to get on there a cple years ago but the dang tickets are randomized and didn’t win :(

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7 a terrible husband... March 31, 2014 at 8:37 am

So how will we know if you’re a bazillionaire? Is that the day the website stops updating? ;) Or will we just get a quick “hey, nice knowing you – I’ll be back at some point, but for now I’m taking a cruise around the world” post?

I’m the same way with some old collections – I have a few – maybe 5 or six – fancy coins (I believe they’re called British Sovereign coins that my relatives in Greece gave me as a kid to keep. I had no idea what the heck they were so I didn’t even know how to look them up! After my 100th google search I finally figured out they’re pretty “gold” and pretty “cool.” I would have no idea how to look up a stamp, but would probably google a few of them to see what kind of stamps they might range in to determine whether it’s worth the $160 to have them evaluated officially.

Maybe a consignment or pawn shop would be a decent place for a quick lookover – they might have some general knowledge and at least point you in the right direction.

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8 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:18 am

Yeah, I just have to take the time to research some myself, and then get a professional opinion afterwards (just to make sure no one’s gonna rip me off w/ my billionaire stamps! :)). As far as how you’ll be able to tell I’ve hit it big, it’ll be reflected in a future net worth update, haha…

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9 Shannon @ Financially Blonde March 31, 2014 at 9:14 am

I honestly never understood the stamp collecting “thing,” but I have to admit that it is cool and it is also amazing to think about the postage system of other times and places. I worked with a guy who was from Pakistan and he said that we (US citizens) would complain about our postal system, but we had no idea how good we had it. He said that he never knew when he was going to get his mail or if mail that he sent would reach his destination. Plus his mailman used to read his mail and deliver letters to him that were opened. I have thought differently on our system since.

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10 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:18 am

Freaky!!!

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11 S L March 31, 2014 at 9:33 am

Aww, J. You never had street cred. Your cred is so much better!

Two interesting URLs for you:
http://www.stampcatalogue.org/
http://www.theswedishtiger.com/

There are others, but with two, you can at least do a three-way compare with your book, and see if they are trying to smoke you or not. Best of luck! I have my own expensive hobby, and it netted me about $350, one time — if I hustled it, I could make more sporadically; I am happy to know it is there at least.

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12 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:19 am

Oooh thx! Appreciate the links!

What’s your hobby? :)

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13 Liz March 31, 2014 at 9:44 am

Really cool! My husband used to have a small stamp collection but I’m not sure what happened with it.

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14 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:20 am

Maybe he pawned it to get your ring? :)

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15 Catina Mount March 31, 2014 at 9:55 am

These are awesome…can’t wait to hear what they are worth!

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16 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:31 am

You sure will! If I ever figure it out ;)

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17 EL @ MoneyWatch101 March 31, 2014 at 11:26 am

What a coinincidence, my father recently found a bag full of old stamps, mostly from here, with a few from overseas. He wants me to check the values for him. I guess I need that book as well, thanks for doing the work for me.

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18 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:21 am

Hopefully you get lucky and hit the jackpot too!

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19 Done by Forty March 31, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I think the evaluation might be money well spent. The problem for us DIYers is that we are unlikely to gain expertise in the timeframe allowed. If you were to try to evaluate the value of the stamp book, you might undervalue it by much more than the $160 charged by the professional. Of course, you might be out some money if the stamps aren’t worth much, but your ‘floor’ for a loss isn’t that low: you’re only possibly out $180 total. I’d say the upside for an accurate estimate (preferably from someone who does not buy stamp collections, to avoid a possible conflict of interest) would be worth the money.

Good luck!

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20 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:22 am

Thanks man. And even if I lose the $180 completely at least I learn a helluva lot, right? Then maybe at a next yard sale I’ll be able to decipher a golden stamp and it’ll all have been worth it, haha…

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21 Brian @ Luke1428 March 31, 2014 at 2:40 pm

This brings back so many memories. My sister was very into stamp collecting growing up and developed quite a collection. My interest went towards baseball cards which I still have today. And I agree, it’s very hard to lay down the collector hobby once you get it going. It can get very expensive depending on what you are collecting.

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22 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:23 am

Oh man, I still have my baseball/basketball collection too. So much fun back in the day!!!

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23 J March 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm

You should check out the Smithsonian Postal Square Museum in DC

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24 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:24 am

Didn’t even know that was a thing! Adding it to my list – thank you!

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25 Karl March 31, 2014 at 4:18 pm

As a collector since I was 7, the value of stamps have gone up and down over the years, there are all kinds of ways stamps are collected. There are cover, first day cover, mint, used, cancelled, plate blocks, plain old blocks, coils, stamps collected in year ranges, back of the book and on and on.

If you are looking to find values of stamps, you can try the Scott Catalogues, the USPS used to put one out as well, check out the American Philatelic Society, https://www.stamps.org, under Services. Linn’s Stamp News is another good site to try. (www.linns.com)

I am a member of that society…. stamp collectors are Philatelists….

I buy most of my stamps from other members in the way of monthly circuits, generally they are priced at a percentage of the “book value”

If you need help with resources contact me at my email. Additionally there are dealers that do not charge to appraise your collection. I have bought lots such as yours off of EBAY as well, so you might head over there and put some of your items into the search and see how much folks are paying.

There are many clubs out there, would say the yellow pages, but the internet for your area could probably do that better as well as other societies for the various specialties.

Good luck with your venture.

Karl

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26 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:26 am

Thanks so much for sharing, Karl! This is great! You don’t happen to live in Virginia by any chance? And like free coffee/lunch/beer for stamp reviewing do ya? ;)

Gonna go check out those links in a few. You’re awesome.

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27 Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life March 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Sounds awesomely amazing! You have awakened the small child in me and I want to start collecting again!

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28 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:27 am

Go for it!! Seems like a lot of fun :)

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29 Karen @ Money Saving Enthusiast March 31, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I didn’t know you liked baseball cards. One more reason to heart this website.Stamps and coins kinds fits your branding whether that was intentional or not, Mr. President.

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30 Karen @ Money Saving Enthusiast March 31, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Ack! meant *kind of*

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31 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:27 am

Anyone who calls me Mr. President is allowed to write anything they want :)

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32 Marie @ GradMoneyMatters April 1, 2014 at 2:41 am

My father was working as a seaman before, he went to different places and he had lots of collections and one of his collections was stamp. He also had different coins and bills from other countries but sadly when we moved from our old house we lost his collections.

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33 J. Money April 1, 2014 at 8:31 am

Awwww, what a cool group of collections though! He and I would have gotten a long pretty well! :)

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34 Richard Anthony April 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Wow, J$, I’m beginning to feel psychic! On March 14, the day you officially launched cointhrill, I see that I left this comment: “. . . So wishing you the best of luck with cointhrill.com and predicting great success. What’s next–stamps? . . .”

(BTW, when I saw your headline for this piece, “Stamp’in My Way to Millions,” I got a slight jolt, thinking it was going to be about another form of stamping that we’ve discussed.)

But yes, I can see it all clearly . . . millions and millions!;)

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35 J. Money April 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

HAH! Now can you use your powers to help me win the lottery? :)

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36 Jon@2-copper-coins.com April 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

I applaud you embracing your passion, especially if it comes at such an affordable price ($20 is an amount that you can easily lose on a speculation project). If it is something you enjoy and you can make a little money on the side in the process that’s a win win. Let us know what you find out. Now you have piqued my curiosity about the value of those cool stamp books.

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37 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Sure will bud. Definitely fun to wish, at the very least :)

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38 Kyle June 19, 2014 at 12:31 am

Cool Collection. You certainly did better than $20, but it’s still not worth a whole lot. With stamps it depends on rarity and condition. Still, there’s some cool stuff on that U.S. page. Those long skinny stamps and some of the ones above them are revenue stamps from the 1860s -70s. During the Civil War, the north began taxing various legal transactions to raise money for the war effort and those stamps represent the taxes paid. They would have been affixed to the documents. For example, that blue 50 cent life insurance stamp would have been attached to a life insurance policy to demonstrate that the taxes had been paid when filed. You won’t get rich off this collection, but there’s some value there.

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39 J. Money June 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Well I’ll take “some value” over “zero value” any day :) So thanks! I still haven’t found anyone to take it to and get it fully appraised, but one of these days I will and then post up a follow up. It’s all rather intriguing to check out and look through in the meantime. Crazy how many hands some of these stamps have passed through before landing in a book 100+ years later. Appreciate the info on those revenue stamps too – very interesting!

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