I inherited a stamp collection, what do I do?

Let’s start with the do nots.

Do not try to organize it – let the company or professionals do that, especially if you have no experience with stamps. There are times the valuable collection does not appear as such and times the pretty stamps or coins have little value.

Do not try to establish value by looking on the internet. One reason is some stamps have many variations that can range its value from cents to hundreds of dollars.  Second, many websites are notoriously unreliable. Just because someone is trying to sell a stamp that looks similar to yours does not mean it’s the same or that his value is legitimate.

Here’s what you can do…

Contact an individual or company with a solid reputation and years of experience in the field of philately (stamp collecting).  You can verify trustworthiness by contacting agencies like the American Philatelic Society or American Stamp Dealers Association.  Either of which can verify reliability or warn you to look for someone else. The Better Business Bureau is another good source.

Once you contact the individual, you should be able to establish a feeling of confidence that your stamps will be handled professionally.  If not, look for another dealer. What you have inherited was once enjoyed and a special hobby to a friend or relative, it should be treated as such.  It may be worth only sentimental value or many dollars; let a professional give you an appraisal so you can know.