A stamp's age does not solely determine its value. Collectors and auctioneers ascertain a stamp's worth by considering its age, subject matter, condition and markings. Old stamps are highly valuable if they are in mint condition and commemorate a notable event or political or cultural celebrity. Error stamps, with mistakes or deformities made during printing, also hold high value because of their rare quality.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Magnifying Glass
- Perforation Gauge
Locate the cost on the face of the stamp to narrow the postage stamp's age down to at least a decade, if not a specific year. Compare its price to a chart that lists changing postage rates over time.
Research the figure, event, or object depicted on your stamp. Postage stamps commemorating famous figures like Elvis or Marilyn Monroe, for example, increase in value.
Hold a magnifying glass up to the stamp to note any distinguishing features, deformities or misprints that might indicate that the stamp is rare. Collectors treasure rare error stamps because so few of them were printed.
Use the millimetre lines of a ruler to determine the exact frame around the image on the stamp and see if it was printed slightly tilted to the left, right, top or bottom. The centring of the image printed on your stamp will effect its value.
Note whether the stamp has been used or if it is in mint condition. Used stamps decrease in value. Post offices brand a postage stamp with a printed marking across its face to indicate that is has been sent through the mail.
Turn the stamp over, using tweezers, to examine its overall condition and decide whether or not the glue used to affix the stamp to an envelope has been used. Mint condition stamps are not ripped, torn or faded. Further, their glue or gum remains unused.
Employ a stamp perforation gauge to measure the distance between perforations around the stamp and determine the shape of the perforations.
Consult a price guide, like the 2005 Brookman Stamp Price Guide by David MacDonald or The Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Postage Stamps 2010 by Thomas E. Hudgeons Jr., to ascertain the accurate value of a stamp.
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