The first postage stamp was produced in 1840, the result of a series of postal reforms implemented in the United Kingdom by Sir Roland Hill. The United States followed closely behind, with Benjamin Franklin and George Washington issuing the first American postage stamps just a few years later, in 1847.
People have been collecting stamps since their inception. Not only do stamps possess monetary value, their various designs, colors and places of origin tell a fascinating history of human communication. As the use of stamps spread, post offices around the world started issuing commemorative stamps and more and more people made stamp collecting a hobby.
If you have a pile of old stamps sitting around your house, you’re probably wondering whether they’re worth anything. While there’s no way to determine this without a thorough evaluation by a philatelic professional, there are certain factors that can help you determine whether or not you have anything worth selling.
Condition. Just like baseball cards and other types of collectibles, the most valuable stamps are also in prime condition. Ideally, you want stamps that have never been used. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, certain stamps are more valuable if they were sent during a certain time period or to a particular area of the country.
Historical significance. All stamps tell a story. Some stamps were only printed for a very limited time. Others were manufactured at the behest of the president or another significant figure. Knowing the story behind your stamps can help you determine their value.
Mounting and display. Stamps are inherently more valuable if they’ve been mounted and carefully displayed. You might have an old shoebox full of stamps, but if they haven’t been carefully cleaned up and placed in stock books, you’re going to have trouble finding a potential buyer.