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Selling Your Stamps
The most important question that you
will ever ask regarding your collection is
"How do I best sell my collection?"

Presented below are the three options available to you. A brief discussion of the merits and drawbacks to each method should help you begin the process of determining how best to sell your collection. After you have digested this information you will have questions. When you reach this moment it is advisable that we speak.

(1) You can sell your stamps yourself directly to other collectors. The drawback to this method is that the odds of your finding one collector to purchase your entire collection is remote. Online services, including Ebay, overcome this obstacle by allowing you the opportunity to present your stamps individually to many collectors. There are, however, two main problems associated with online sales:

The primary, and to many, the overwhelming obstacle is the time and resources needed to sell online. Aside from a computer, you will also need a scanner or high quality digital camera, the software to process the stamps and the patience to learn how to use them correctly. You will need to scan each and every item into your computer. You will have to save each and every stamp in your image processing software. You will have to fill out a form online, a laborious undertaking itself, to list each and every item. After the auction for each item is over, and assuming that the item sells, you will have to send an e-mail notification to the hundreds of successful purchases within three days of the close of the auction. You will wait for the checks to roll in. You will need to decide in each and every case whether or not you are going to ship the item(s) out immediately upon receipt of funds or wait until the funds have cleared. How many telephone calls to your bank will you have to make until you have processed hundreds of checks? Lastly, you will need to have the proper and 100% secure packaging materials to safely mail out hundreds of orders.

The second problem is even if you are up to the challenge; not every item is going to sell. Even if you reoffer the unsold items there is no guarantee that they will ever sell. Then there are the inevitable returns and the stamps that are going to be submitted for expertization, a process that will delay the finalization of the sale for up to three months. In the end, you will be left with a group of items that nobody wants. You will not have sold your entire collection.

(2) The second sales method is consignment to a public auction. There are several reputable firms that can be trusted to obtain a fair price for your collection and to make a timely settlement after the sale is completed.

The auction houses will stress the fact that they are selling directly to collectors. The implication of this statement is to lead you to believe that you are getting good prices for your stamps. What they fail to mention is that they are also selling your stamps to dealers and you would be surprised at just how many items are selling to dealers. The sale of the Robert Zoellner collection provides an interesting analysis. The only complete collection of United States stamps to be offered at public auction attracted the attention of an incredibly large number of collectors. This one-of-a-kind collection would be expected to sell to these highly interested collectors. Yet nearly 38% of the lots offered, 344 of the 911 presented in the auction, sold to dealers. The percentage of lots selling to dealers in other sales is usually higher.

Also, these "good" prices that they promise to obtain are only for those stamps that are listed individually. To list an item individually in their sales, the major auction houses have a minimum value of a $150.00 realization. What happens to the hundreds of stamps that you purchased one at a time valued under this minimum? They are grouped together into a balance lot.

If you wish the sale of your collection to be consummated quickly, the auction route presents problems. Auction houses need months from the date of receipt of your collection until you finally receive payment. Funds for any items placed on extension for certification will be withheld until the items are certified. This process will take up to three months from the date of the sale. Some of the items placed on extension will receive negative opinions and will be returned by the buyers to the auction house. Also, various buyers will return a small percentage of items. All of these items will have to be resold. In some cases, the value of the item will now be too low for the auction house to place the item in auction. Once again you are left with stamps that cannot be sold.

(3) The final method to consider is the outright sale of your collection to a dealer such as myself. This route overcomes the obstacles faced by the other methods.

Once a price for your collection is agreed upon you receive full payment immediately. When a dealer purchases an intact collection, the dealer assumes all risks of items receiving adverse certificates of authenticity and condition. The dealer also assumes any risk in collectors returning stamps to him. You are not saddled with the burden of placing each and every item individually. You are spared the anxiety of waiting for an auction to be completed to know the price that you will receive for your collection. The outright sale of your collection method forces the dealer to figure the value of each and every stamp in your collection. Since he is going to break down your collection more finely than an auction house, he can afford to evaluate all items that you have for sale.

The outright sale approach guarantees you of selling each and every item in your collection and receiving a fair and prompt settlement.

Alan E. Cohen

Premium Quality Stamps for Collectors
phone (212) 280-7865
P.O.Box 929, Cathedral Station
New York, NY 10025

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