Are you thinking of selling your stamp collection? Please reflect on several things before you take your collection to a local stamp show or contact a dealer.
How are the stamps organized? Are the stamps stored loosely in a box, if this is the case, it is hard to determine the value of your stamps. Loose collections tend to be the lower end, common stamps and rarely rise in value. Loose collections tend to have been bought in bulk for beginners to determine if stamp collecting is their new hobby. Loose collections typically have little value.
Please remember never to write with pencil, pen or marker on any stamp. Never tear the stamp or take it off any envelope. Older envelopes with original stamps have a greater value. If a older letter has been saved with the envelope it is more valuable. These envelopes are called "covers" or “postal covers” or “postal history”. First day covers are also collected. A first day cover coincides with the date of issue of that stamp. The cover may or may not have art on the envelope as well as a cancel showing the date it was originally issued. Collectors enjoy stamps in many different mediums.
If your stamps are organized in albums or in a loose leaf binder by country or topic, someone has taken the time to organize the stamps? These collections show more promise of value. If a dealer can see each stamp clearly and evaluate it for flaws, a dealer can give you a fairer price.
Did you know that certain stamp companies have listed all stamps and given each stamp a number? Scott and Minkus are examples of companies who have produced this type of catalogue. These catalogues are for United States stamps and for worldwide stamps but are expensive to buy. These books may be available at your local library. Inside the catalogues are pictures of some of the stamps but not all, along with their corresponding number and current value for the "year" date of that catalogue. New catalogues are printed every year and stamp values do change over time. Please refer to the beginning pages of a Scott catalog to better understand how stamps are organized by country.
If you suspect your collection has higher value, then you should have the stamps appraised. If you are looking for an appraiser please contact the American Philatelic Society for an accredited appraiser. http://www.stamps.org/. An appraisal may cost between $75 or $100 an hour. If taken to a dealer most will take a quick look at your collection and give you an estimate for free.
If you live within the Indianapolis area and would like an evaluation of your stamps, please contact me by email at email@example.com or telephone at 317-910-0845. If you live farther away, I would be happy to recommend someone to review your collection. It would be a good idea to have more than one person review your collection and submit a bid on your stamps.