How lucrative is stamp collecting

Information on valuable stamps & Co. Selling stamps: tradition since 1840

The Greek term “philately” is made up of the syllables “philos” (friend, lover ”) and“ ateleia ”(tax and duty exemption). The background to this was that the postage stamp exempted the sender from further demands.

Occasionally, forerunners also aroused the interest of stamp collectors, such as the bishop's seal on a letter from 1780. Due to the close interdependence of European states and the global order of colonialism, the invention of stamps spread rapidly all over the world. It was only a matter of time before people began to carefully store the stamps in their own collections.

Which stamps are in demand?

Initially, the collectors took a liking to stamps from abroad. The country of origin of the postage couldn't be far enough away from people. When the number of postage stamps ever minted in the world became unmanageable, the stamp collectors began to specialize. That way, a specific country could do it to them, a specific epoch like World War I, or a topic like postage stamps related to music, sports, automobiles, railroads, ships, planes, space travel, and more. Others, on the other hand, are interested in political backgrounds and are specifically looking for postage stamps, for example from the young Soviet Union in the years immediately after the October Revolution with the memorable expressionist revolutionary aesthetic.

The most valuable stamps and the "common man's stocks"

Word quickly got around that some postage stamps have a special value. This gave philately the reputation of being the “little man's investment”. you are Capital investments with significant potential for value appreciation. In any case, stamp collecting awakens hopes and promises as an important driving force for enthusiasts. Depending on the quality of the stamp, trends and demand, a single stamp can win the lottery and bring in millions in an auction.

Cases like that blueness and red Mauritiuswhich was published in 1993 together with the historical document, the "Bordeaux letter“, Which went on sale for 6.125 million Swiss francs (approx. 5.2 million euros) in 1847, are certainly the exception, but they show the potential hidden in some postage stamps. Anyone who wants to sell stamps can therefore hope for their chance, especially since there is a lot to be gained at auctions in the auction house, because among the mass of participants there are always bidders who are known for their daring bids at an auction. The stamp market is lucrative, and many who have been able to sell valuable stamps have inherited their collections.

An indispensable tool for the stamp collector is also the Stamp catalogwhich helps to estimate and determine all the important criteria for identifying the best brands. It is a kind of encyclopedia for stamp collectors. The information contained in the catalog is also important for sales because it allows claims to be objectified. Last but not least, anyone who wants to sell their stamps has the option of contacting an expert or auditor for a valuation. Intermediaries are also happy to accept brands for purchase in order to complete a certain collection with them and to sell the brands on at a profit. They also have experts at their disposal who can provide them with all the information for the stamps values.

The cultural and historical backgrounds of stamp collecting are windows to the world and eloquent testimonies of history. Special editions, for example on the occasion of the Olympic Games or world exhibitions, highlight important events. They refer to the values ​​of other nations and symbolize the zeitgeist. For example, they refer to German particularism, which prevailed until 1871, the hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic and the time when the Saarland had an autonomous status after the Second World War and was separated from the federal territory. The spirit that breathes the respective epoch is impressively captured in the brands.

Ultimately, postage stamps are compressed works of art with elegant iconographies and a high level of abstraction that have a stimulating effect on connoisseurs and experts. Above all, the gain in conveyed culture, geography and history through the brands is enormous and enriches the whole process. Even if selling stamps in the auction house, for example, of course remains the core business, the task is so edifying due to the cultural background that the enthusiast quickly identifies with his business and this makes a lot of sense. Just as the journey is the goal, the stamp collector expands his horizons with each stamp.

The criteria for determining the value of postage stamps

Rarity of the edition

As with many other products, the rarer they are on the market, the more they have a special value. This is one of the main reasons gold is so much more valuable than coal. It is therefore worth taking a look at the issue in which the stamp is embedded to see how many stamps there are from this collection. A tip: A first insight into the rarity of the issue offers a look at the country of origin, which is therefore also an important quality criterion. Here, too, the following applies again: the more exotic the country of origin, the greater the value, as can be seen very well with the Mauritius postage stamps,

Age of the stamps

Collectibles are more valuable the older they are. This is no different with postage stamps. Postage stamps are therefore most valuable when they come as close as possible to the year 1840, i.e. the year the first postage stamp came into circulation. Letters with a stamp from the period before 1840 do not belong to postage stamps, but they can also have a high collector's value and attract a large number of items in the auction house.

Material of the postage stamps

The value of a single stamp depends, among other things, on the material. Possible materials for postage stamps are fiber paper, chalk paper, and Japanese paper. Security stamps such as watermarks, lacquer strips, fluorescence, phosphorescence and holograms also attest to the value of postage stamps. A saving gum and a rubber corrugation on the back are also indications that suggest a certain amount of effort in the production and thus for the quality of the stamp.

Quality of the stamps

A look at the motif of the stamp also gives an idea of ​​its value. Some works of art were created in a particularly elegant way, so that lovers are willing to pay a higher price at an auction. After all, the value of a commodity, true to the Thomas theorem (“if men define a situation as real, it's real in its consequences”) always depends on how much other people are willing to spend on it. Objective quality criteria are pre-printed albums and indications that the stamp was auctioned at the auction house. Certificates of authenticity such as photo certificates, findings and other certificates are also indications of a professional stamp collection. The seal of approval is issued in Germany by the BPP stamp testing association.


Interestingly, mistakes made while printing a postage stamp are a seal of approval for connoisseurs and a sign to pay more. These printing errors can include, for example, missing colors, missing printouts, missing teeth, reversed prints, accidental duplicates of smaller motifs, plate prints (errors due to a bad printing plate) and plaster prints (if a small object accidentally left on the printing plate has crept into the print ) act. Typically, printing errors are quickly identified and the stamps in question are withdrawn from circulation. If faulty stamp prints do come into circulation, this is a very rare occurrence and therefore accordingly spectacular. The most valuable German postage stamp from Baden 1851, which once changed hands for the equivalent of around 1.5 million euros, had such a misprint and had the wrong color for the price class (nine kreuzers) that was actually intended for a stamp with the value of six kreuzers was.


The better the condition of a stamp, the more valuable the individual item is. This is particularly true of postage stamps, because postage stamps tend to become foxed over time or to discolor under the influence of humidity. They are also prone to creases, cracks, "windows" (if they become so thin in some places that the sun shines through them) as well as small holes and many postage stamps are also affected by being pulled from the letter. Real philatelists therefore use special aids such as folding for the print and invest a lot of time and energy in safe storage. The pioneers of postage stamping had still worked with hot water in order to remove the stamp from the letter as gently as possible using steam and thus preserve the stamp's value.

A general distinction is made in philately between mint never hinged, unused and stamped Postage stamps, whereby the stamp always represents a kind of cancellation. There are also official criteria for assessing the condition of the stamps:

  • luxury (in perfect condition, with central full stamp)
  • cabinet (without defects, clearly legible stamp)
  • Splendor (normally preserved, stamp often not clearly legible)
  • Finest (minor defects)
  • Fine (major defects, with very rare stamps still suitable for collecting)
  • choice (badly damaged, no longer suitable for collecting

Special aspects

Finally, stamps can have special features that add value. For example, counterfeit mail, espionage and propaganda are particularly valuable. But also special, rare color variations of a stamp, special perforations, stamps with decorative fields and stamps on preserved historical letters can increase their value considerably. In the early days of postage stamps it could also happen that influential personalities or companies created their own postage stamps. These editions are a rarity and are very popular today.