How do I recognize valuable stamps?

Posted by Oliver Eckl on

Of course, selling stamps is only worthwhile once they reach a certain value. This is determined by many different influencing factors. They range from a specific toothing to the stamping, the age and whether the stamp is still on a piece of mail or not. Use all the information the stamps give you to find out if they could be valuable. You can use the following criteria to determine whether it is worth selling your stamps:

Age and quality

The value of a stamp is determined by how rare, how popular and what quality it is. Age also plays a very important role, because the motto usually applies: the older, the rarer. Over the years, more and more of these rarities and gains in value disappear, especially if they are still in good condition.

Major influencing factors when selling stamps are the popularity and trends on the stamp market. Depending on which stamp is currently in the most general demand or which copies are particularly rare, values ​​can skyrocket. Because of this, people are now even investing in stamps as investments. In Germany, for example, complete letters with stamps that have traveled from Germany to China or Africa are currently popular.

pre-printed albums

If the stamps are in so-called pre-printed albums, you can be sure that it is a slightly higher quality collection. Pre-printed albums are specific scrapbooks with markings. You can also tell from them whether the collection is complete. The more complete it is, the higher its value.

Certificates of authenticity

Search your stamp collection for certificates of authenticity. This includes photo certificates, findings, certificates or auction invoices. These certificates are often verified by the Association of Philatelic Examiners (BPP) and indicate a higher value.

Sell ​​stamps in large quantities

Selling stamps in large quantities can also be profitable. Count or estimate the number of stamps before selling them and compare them with collections from other dealers. This way you can roughly estimate your profit. Instead of specifying the number of stamps, you can also specify the number of full scrapbooks. If you've found a box full of loose stamps, it's common practice to list the weight to attract buyers.

The collection area

The collecting area also plays an important role in the sale of stamps. Depending on which country your stamps come from, the amounts vary greatly. German examples between 1955 and today are often almost worthless. However, stamps from overseas (e.g. Asia or Africa) achieve higher profits in Europe. It is always advisable to use international online auction houses in order to find as many potential buyers as possible.


Misprints are extremely popular: If you suspect there may have been a spelling mistake, number transposition, or incorrect color used on a stamp, compare the stamp with its contemporaries. For example, a Baden nine-kreuzer stamp from 1850 achieved a German record price of one million euros in the 1980s because it was printed in green instead of pink.

Inspect for damage

Even the smallest damage can make the stamp unusable for the collector. Do you suspect that one of your stamps might be valuable? Take a magnifying glass and inspect it for any damage before offering it for sale. Passionate collectors are very critical here. Especially when letters or numbers are no longer recognizable, this can completely eliminate the original value of the stamp.

Order by country

If the stamp album is organized by country, there is also an increased chance of a valuable find. Especially if it only contains brands from a single country. If the edges of these stamps are smooth and not serrated, they could be even more valuable.


If you have canceled stamps in your collection, check that both the location and date are clearly legible. This increases the value of both originally expensive and inexpensive brands. If your stamp is of a type that is even rarer when used than when it is unstamped, you have a particularly good chance of achieving high returns. Whole letters with rare stamps and cancellations are the most popular on the stamp market.

Valuation by exclusion process

Once you have looked at all the criteria for determining the value of your stamps, you can probably rule out some of them and put them away. But it's better not to throw them away, depending on how the trends develop on the stamp market, they could be more valuable one day. If many people throw away the “worthless” stamps, they could one day become rare and sought after.

The so-called first day covers or first day sheets are usually worth hardly anything. They are simply souvenirs of the first day of validity of the franked stamp. Put them aside for now and concentrate on the more promising pieces. The only exception that offers a chance of winning more is a very old or special first day cover. For example, Conrad Röntgen's 50th anniversary first day cover from 1951 is worth a few hundred euros. However, such a stroke of luck is rather unlikely.