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Frequently asked questions about stamps

Here you can find questions and answers about stamps.

Teaser Bühne FAQ

Questions about stamps

If you have questions, the chances are that they have been asked and answered before. We have compiled the most frequently asked questions from our customers for you here together with their answers.

What makes a stamp valuable?

In most cases, it is the rarity and quality of stamps that are the key factors in determining their value. Another factor that ultimately plays a key role is the current market situation, i.e. the demand for the stamp or its popularity on the stamp market. Our experts are well versed in these important factors and can give you information relating to any stamp.

How can non-experts tell whether a collection is valuable?

Using the following criteria, you can determine yourself whether the collection you have inherited could be valuable:  

Photo certificates or other kinds of certificates, frequently issued by the BPP (German Association of Philatelic Experts), can generally be taken as an indication of a professional collection. These certify that the individual stamps are genuine.

If the stamps are collected in illustrated albums, this also points to a more valuable collection. This gives a good indication as to whether the stamp collection is complete. First-day covers and first-day sheetlets, by contrast, are generally worth little or nothing.

If there are indications – for example, enclosed invoices – that the stamps were already acquired at stamp auctions, it is likely that it is a professional stamp collection.

Even if a collection might not be very valuable, its size may be a decisive factor. The best thing to do is to count or estimate the total number of albums.

However, it is ultimately the popularity of the collection field that determines whether a collection is likely to meet with high demand at an auction. Are the country collections from European countries, Germany or overseas? For instance, there is currently a high demand for Chinese stamps, meaning that these fetch high prices. By contrast, collections of stamps from the Federal Republic of Germany between 1955 and 2010 tend not to be of interest. If the euro collection extends until 2014, the postage values of uncancelled euro nominals tend to sell well.

Are uncancelled stamps more valuable than cancelled stamps?

Generally speaking, this cannot be said to be true because it depends on the collection field in question. It is the rarity of a stamp that is the decisive factor. A classic example is the posthorn set, which is only valuable in MNH condition (i.e. mint never hinged). Another example is the rare cancelled stamps from the time of high inflation, which are only valuable with a certificate of genuineness, as most specimens have forged cancels.

Are old stamps more valuable than modern stamps?

When it comes to determining the value of a stamp, age is of secondary importance. For instance, there are stamps that are over 150 years old and still worth less than a euro. It is the rarity of a stamp that is the decisive factor. A prime example of this is the Audrey Hepburn stamp, the most valuable modern stamp in the world, also described as “Germany’s very own Blue Mauritius”. This stamp was due to be issued in 2001 but was then withdrawn – and five individual specimens have gone under the hammer to date. The third specimen to be found was auctioned by Felzmann in 2005 for the record price of €135,000. Further information on the Audrey Hepburn stamps can be found here.

Is a stamp collection still a good investment these days?

Every item has a financial and a sentimental value. Collectors see their collections as something that enriches their lives and are willing to invest considerable time and effort into building them up. However, a “normal” collection is not as easy to sell as was the case back in the 1980s. The market is changing and current demand is more specialist in nature. Unusual material is still in demand; standard material less and less. We would be happy to advise you on the subject of investments. If you are interested, please feel free to call us.

What is meant by the “Michel value” of a stamp?

Stamp collectors and dealers often talk about the “Michel value” of stamps. This refers to the prices quoted in the Michel catalogues, the most widely used and recognised stamp catalogues in the German-speaking world. However, the prices listed in these standard philatelic works often come in for criticism from collectors given that they are significantly higher than what the stamps in question would generally fetch on the market. In view of this, Michel price listings only serve as a rough idea of a stamp’s worth rather than a realistic indication of its market value.

A good rule of thumb is: the higher the catalogue value of a stamp, the higher the percentage of the listed price it is likely to fetch.

Collector A has 100,000 identical stamps which Michel states as being worth €1 each. This makes €100,000 according to Michel.
Collector B has 1 stamp which Michel states as being worth €100,000.
This means that both collectors have stamps with a Michel value of €100,000.
However, Collector A’s stamps are worth practically nothing on the market because they are mass-produced. By contrast, Collector B can realistically expect to fetch several tens of thousands of euros for his stamp.

In other words, the Michel value cannot be attributed the same importance in each case!