There are two schools of thought when it comes to stamp collecting: those who view it as an engaging and interesting hobby, and those who view it as an investment. The prospect of earning money will cause many people to eye stamp collections for sale with the intention of earning a profit. While many collectors will not necessarily discourage people from viewing their stamp collections as an investment, there are a number of caveats that come with taking such an approach.
First of all, the overall attitude of stamp collecting has changed since the 1970’s, which was the time period in which stamp prices experienced great gains and stamps really earned attention as potential alternative investments. Many people take stamp collecting on as a hobby rather than an investment, which can cause stamp prices to drop.
Second of all, the prevailing factors for stamp collecting values are the catalogue prices. These prices are published by groups like Stanley Gibbons or other dealers. They reflect retail value – i.e. what a dealer is planning to charge for a particular stamp. These values do not reflect what you are likely to get from selling a stamp. In fact, you may receive less than half of the catalogue prices listed. Keep that in mind when you are looking at stamp collections for sale and want to know whether they are a good investment for you.
There are benefits to treating stamps as an investment, so do not let these warnings cause you to shy away from contemplating those rare and valuable stamps. Stamps are easy to transport and are a subtle way to store your wealth, as there are few, if any, restrictions on transporting stamps over national borders. Stamps are also private, unlike stock investments. However, keep in mind that stamp collecting for investment is often challenging and you should proceed with the utmost care.
Remember that researching potential investment stamps is paramount, as is understanding subtle variations in condition that can have a huge impact on the value of your stamps. You should have a strong knowledge of how rare a given stamp is so that you can better evaluate stamp collections for sale to determine how much you should pay. Stamp collecting as an investment involves having a firm grasp on what the stamp market is doing and keeping a close eye on current trends in supply and demand.
You should also take special precautions when it comes to storing your stamps as investments, as these physical assets are at a greater risk for physical damage and deterioration, which can destroy the value.
If you are instead more interested in stamps as an intellectual curiosity and enjoy them for the art and ingenuity that has gone into designing them, you join the ranks of many other enthusiastic stamp collectors. In such instances, you should focus on collecting stamps that you like – whether due to the history behind the stamps, the artwork, or any other reason for which you derive enjoyment from the stamp itself. Careful and diligent collectors can sometimes end up with a collection that is worth more than what they paid, but such things are rare and should more be considered a bonus rather than the goal of any stamp collecting hobby.