Changes to Centennial’s Stamp Auctions
So we have been doing stamp and coin sales for years @ Centennial. A year or so ago we made a change, in that we no longer are doing consignment stamp auctions. This decision was made due to numerous factors.
- It is hard to gather enough good material to put a nice stamp sale together from consignment alone. Most material has gone in and out of the dealers hands multiple times.
- Having a winter stamps sale is potentially dangerous both for the collection and distribution of the stamps with winter driving in New England.
- Stamps are what we like to call a “collapsing market”. By this we mean that the number of collectors is decreasing, even as the volume of collections available for sale is increasing.
- The average stamp collector is over the age of 65 years old, according to a 2007 APS survey. So, as you might imagine it has probably gone up.
Fun fact, did you know that the first Postmaster General (apt. 1775) was Benjamin Franklin, yes that Benjamin Franklin.
However we have had a few stamp sales that are single owner estate auctions since this change. Stamp guys are like coin guys, but they also are unique (and I am sing the word “Guys” in the New England sense as a group of more than three people, not necessarily all men. However most of the time it is a 95% male to female ratio).
Just like coin guys no food or drinks near the merchandise is the rule of thumb for previewing lots. But for stamp guys, they use lighter fluid to look at the condition of the paper, as well as watermarks on stamps.
It is little strange to sit at a table with a row full of guys dipping stamps into lighter fluid. If they know a lot about stamps, they also manhandle the stamps, pushing and pulling them around gauges, flicking the paper to see the way it sounds, and the like. They also use tongs to hold the stamps (if you call them tweezers, as I did at first, they will give you deadly looks).
But like coin guys, they have their reference books, their codes they put down for their reference on their bidder sheets or notes. They like certain kinds of light to view the items. Specialized magnifiers, and lights are also tools of the trade. There is a lot going on, on the tables.
Market for Stamps
However, I also would like to point out, that although it is a collapsing market, there is still a market for the rare and unique items. There is also postal history, which is envelopes and stamps that are special for some reason (or more formally, the study of the use of postage stamps and covers and associated postal artifacts illustrating historical episodes in the development of postal systems). We had a Pony Express cover at out last sale that was quite nice and fetched a good price (see below far left). The Penny Black, Inverted Jenny, and a 449 joint line pair complete the line.
Rare stamps are still rare, and will always have a market, but as the number of collectors goes down and the decreasing rate of new collectors comes into the market place, the market, as stated earlier, is collapsing. Stamp collecting, or “philately” as it is called, is one of the oldest know hobbies, and those that love it, LOVE it. However with less and less “snail mail” being sent year by year, many young people as just not exposed to stamps, or their history. Even postage, or stamps that have no value beyond their face value to be used in mailing, are worth less and less. Generally we can only guarantee customers 50% of face value on large postage lots. People just do not want to buy low denomination stamps, especially if they have to lick them.
So if you have collections, please contact Centennial, or a local dealer to find out what you have, but do not be surprised if you find out you are in possession of all the postage you need for your holiday cards!
What did the stamp collector say when he was complimented? Philately will get you no where.