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Collecting Stamps: Stamp Values
THERE ARE NO HARD AND FAST rules, unfortunately, as to stamp values. It's impossible to say that stamps of a certain period are worth a good deal, and that certain other stamps are valueless. No one can even say that unused, or mint stamps are always worth more than those which have been used.
The safest advice to be given is to urge that no old letters or postcards, or stamp collections be thrown away or burned until someone with a knowledge of stamps has seen the material.
There are too many known instances where real philatelic treasures were lost forever because someone ignorant of stamps decided to get rid of old business or personal correspondence. In one instance thousands of dollars worth of stamps were saved just as a janitor was throwing them into the furnace. No one will ever know how much was destroyed before the janitor was stopped.
Stamps of value have a habit of turning up in the most unusual ways, and a misstep can prove damaging. One woman found an old Civil War Patriotic envelope in some papers. She received a nice check for it, because it was wellpreserved, and an unknown copy. A widow, through the efforts of a good lawyer, "found" hundreds of dollars because she discovered some sheets of stamps in an old book. Another person received thousands of dollars because a few covers were kept, rather than thrown away.
This doesn't imply that finds are always good. They aren't. It certainly is better to be safe than sorry, though.
There must be hundreds, and possibly thousands, of rare Old envelopes "hidden" in various places throughout the country. When they turn up there are all too many instances where stamps are torn, or peeled, off envelopes which would have exceptional value, and given away.
Logic dictates that hundreds and thousands of the very rare Postmaster's Provisionals of 1845 to 1847 were sold, and used. Yet comparatively few of these have turned up in over a century, and they have catalogue values ranging from $32.00 to $15,000.
It is known that there were over 4,000,000 of the 5-cent 1847 (Benjamin Franklin) and over 1,000,000 of the 10-cent (Washington) of the same year, yet these stamps have lowest prices, used, of $27.50 and $80.00, respectively.
To complicate any attempt to set up valuations for desirable stamps, some designs which are fairly common have variations which make them quite rare. That is why no listing can be made of stamps to watch for.
Since certain values were commonly used on postage (1¢,2¢,5¢ and 10¢) in later years, it is reasonably safe to assume they are less apt to have a value to collectors. Conversely, little-used denominations are less common, and do have a value (6¢, 8¢, 15¢, 25¢, 50¢ and the dollar units).
The do's and don't's are, briefly:
Do protect the stamps and envelopes you have and find. Do take them to a reputable stamp collector or dealer. Do make certain everything is there-the stamps or covers left out may be the very ones to have value.
Do not tear off any stamps if large pieces are found. Wait until you have authoritative advice.
Do not tear any stamps off an old envelope, postcard or picture. The postal markings may have some additional value, or the entire envelope or postcard, or picture may have value.
Do not discard wrappers or old envelopes without stamps. They, too, can have a value.
Do not paste down any material you may find. Protect it well.