ValueMyStuff sat down with one of our Stamp specialist, Jean Lafortune for a Q&A. Learn more about why he continues to enjoy stamps and get insight into a specialist's valuation.
By becoming a member of various local stamp clubs, larger national philatelic organizations and philatelic libraries, by borrowing and especially buying and reading extensively all kinds of philatelic literature. There is no possible shortcut to knowledge, it is a long term investment in time ( and some money) to obtain, read, understand and use all the knowledge that is contained in the thousands of varied sources of information available about stamps. They include specialized catalogues, periodicals, studies and handbooks published all over the world in a great number of languages. A good reading knowledge at least of the most important world languages is a very important asset in this regard. Many specialized sources are never translated into any other language but the one they were originally written in…
I use my more than 55 years of experience in stamps to identify the valuable items that have some resale potential, look carefully at their condition and take into consideration the relative scarcity and interest in such material.
In very general terms, older stamps, say before the second half of the 20th century, tend to be more valuable. But the older stamps are, the more they are likely to have suffered some kind of visible ( and sometimes not so visible…) damage which takes away the greater part of their catalog and their market value. Such types of damage include tears, missing parts, stains, folds and creases, change of colour because of the sun or the passage of time, thins , heavy and unsightly cancellations, etc. Such damage easily takes away 90 or 95% of the value of a stamp. Damaged cheap stamps have no value.
Older mint stamps from the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century are often worth more, but not always, depending on the political and historical circumstances prevailing at the time they were issued. A war or revolution can mean that the vast majority of stamps from a given issue remained unsold and so such stamps will be scarcer used than mint.
Older stamps that correspond to the basic rate for a letter in the first weight step were usually printed and sold in extremely vast quantities so that even when the stamps are now 100 years old or more, they remain extremely common and have very little if any value.