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The value of stamps

Whether a particular stamp is valuable or not often depends on the finer details. Using a number of examples, we will show you the specific differences in the value of stamps.

Teaser Bühne Wertvolle oder Wertlose Briefmarken, Ankauf, Versteigerung, Auktion, Experten, Beratung, Briefmarken

Discovered a valuable stamp?

On the internet, you might see a stamp that is offered or sold for €1,000. On the list of the most expensive stamps, you might even find one worth €20,000. And – as chance would have it – you have this very stamp in your album ... Of course, it is certainly possible that you really are in possession of a similarly high-quality specimen. However, it is usually the finer details that determine the value of stamps and that scupper dreams of instant wealth.

Reality is often quite different.

Based on the following few examples, I would ask you to gauge the value of your stamps very critically, taking a realistic rather than optimistic approach. If you are unsure, please ask one of our experts what your stamp is worth.

The Penny Black – the world’s first stamp

Penny Black, die erste Briefmarke der Welt
Visually appealing, the world’s first stamp – the British Penny Black

... is not the most valuable stamp in the world.

It may sound strange, but the world’s first stamp can be acquired for a relatively small sum. The attractive British Penny Black , which was valid as of the beginning of May 1840, can be acquired today for around €100 in a normal, cancelled form in a condition that befits its age.

However, this value can soon soar if it is a better variant, if it has a better cancellation, or if it is a block or a cover. In other words, the value of a stamp depends on the finer details here too.

The best thing to do is to e-mail a digital photo or scan of your Penny Black and we will tell you whether or not it is a valuable specimen. The e-mail address is philatelie@felzmann.de

German Empire: Germania 10 Pfennig in red

10 Pfennig Germania, wertlos und wertvoll
The stamp on the left is worthless while the one on the right is valuable

Not all reds are the same

The 10 Pfennig Germania is a classic example for determining whether a stamp is valuable or not. Everyone has one – it is found in every album. And they all have one thing in common: all of them are red, at least as far as the basic colour is concerned.

Dark carmine red, dark red carmine, bright red carmine, carmine, dark carmine, dark pink or dark red? In this case, the value of the stamp depends on just a small colour nuance. One of the colours is like having 5 correct numbers in the lottery, another is like having 2 with a bonus number, but the vast bulk of them are only worth a fraction of the price of a lottery ticket. How often have you won the lottery?

There are specialist experts who are responsible for determining the exact shade of the red Germania. And only when this stamp has been examined or certified by the relevant experts is it deemed to be as such.

In the case of the 10 Pfennig Germania, there are also differences in printing type, watermark and perforation. If you already have a verified or certified Germania 10 Pfennig red, you are welcome to e-mail us a digital photo or scan of the stamp and the certificate at: philatelie@felzmann.de

Germany: The famous posthorn set from 1951

Posthornsatz postfrisch
As an example: 3 values from the set, sought in MNH condition, cancelled, virtually mass-produced

The cancellation reduces the value of stamps

It is highly likely that you also have a posthorn stamp from the Federal Republic of Germany in your collection. Some denominations were produced over a billion times and are therefore hardly worth anything.

However, money was very scarce in Germany at the time and stamps were almost exclusively purchased for the purposes of postage. The high denominations – 70, 80 and 90 Pfennigs – were seldom set aside in those days but rather were used for sending letters and parcels. Because of this, the Posthorn set is still worth a few hundred euros today in MNH condition, i.e. uncancelled with original gum.

By contrast, it is worth little or nothing when cancelled. However, there are a few exceptions here too: High-denomination first day covers from the Posthorn series are still in demand.

What are your Posthorn stamps worth? If you have an uncancelled Posthorn set, please e-mail us a digital picture or scan at: philatelie@felzmann.de

German stamps from the Weimar hyperinflation period (1919-1923)

Hitlerprovisorium und Normalmarke
Left: the valuable 331 a cancelled; right: the inexpensive 331 b uncancelled

During this period, postage amounts were in the millions and billions of Reichsmarks.

Germany under the Weimar Republic (1919-1923) did not exactly experience what could be termed economic growth. At the time of high inflation, many stamps were printed – when inflation was rampant in November 1923, new denominations were issued on an almost weekly basis. Postage amounts for normal letters at the time were in the millions and billions of Reichsmarks. Some denominations were invalid again after just a few days.

This means that some of these issues – with genuine cancels – are worth far more today than their uncancelled counterparts. However, given that many collectors back then had their stamps cancelled to order, there are not very many inflation stamps from the period starting November 1923 that actually have genuine cancels. Having these stamps examined by an expert is absolutely essential, especially in the case of sub-types, which can be worth a lot of money.

What are your stamps worth? If you have a certified genuine uncancelled stamp from the Weimar hyperinflation period, please e-mail us a digital photo or scan of the stamp and the certificate to: philatelie@felzmann.de

First-day sheetlets are only of sentimental value

Ersttagsblätter sind nahezu wertlos
First-day sheetlets are collected for fun rather than because they are valuable

First-day sheetlets are only bought directly on issue

First-day sheetlets are modern products issued by Deutsche Bundespost – the post office of the Federal Republic of Germany – and have been available on the stamp market since 1974. The fact is, however, that first-day sheetlets are only bought directly on issue by collectors who acquire them from Deutsche Bundespost. You can expect to have great difficulties selling these as the market is very limited and declining in nature. The value lies in the sentimental value for the collector alone.

Beware of forgeries

Briefmarken Fälschungen, Nachdrucke, Faksimile
Forgeries live on

The darker side of the philatelic world

Ever since people have collected stamps, there have been unscrupulous attempts to imitate rare and expensive issues in order to part collectors and their money.

In many, but not all, cases, these imitations have the words to the effect of “imitation”, “reprint”, “facsimile”, etc., on the front or back of the stamp – often in microscopic print. This indicates that the stamp is not an original but an imitation, which is normally worthless. The genuine value of the stamp can therefore only be determined with a magnifying glass and the trained eye.

Would you like to have your stamps given a genuine estimate free of charge?

Simply send some photos to info@felzmann.de, via WhatsApp with +49(0)162 265226 or give us call on +49(0)211 550440. Of course you can also fill in our contact form and we will get in touch with you.

High-quality and verified specimens are suitable for auctioning.

Accordingly, our auctions only include suitably high-quality and verified items – because of this, we would ask you to examine your stamps under the microscope before submitting them to us.


Further information on the following subjects can be found here:

The Mauritius stamps
How to submit material for auction
Having stamps evaluated