Advice on valuation and disposal of stamp collections

The Oxford Philatelic Society receives many requests about valuation and disposal of stamp collections. Valuation is very time-consuming, and consequently we trust that you will understand if we say that we have had to decide as a matter of policy in regard to all such queries from non-members of the OPS, that we cannot offer more than the following general advice and suggestions:
1. Many such collections have been started in childhood but not followed up later in life. If accepted by an auctioneer at all, these are unlikely to fetch more than £10-£20. In our experience, single such collections might just as well be donated to charity. Locally, we know that Sobell House and Oxfam sell stamps in their shops.
2. On the other hand, collections which have been developed over a lifetime may well be of interest to a dealer/auctioneer – and public auction is as fair and reliable a way as any of ensuring that the best price is realised on the day. Collections assembled by one’s parents or grandparents will merit close inspection before disposal. But please note that even these may not raise at auction more than 10-20% of their apparent value as indicated by a catalogue such as Stanley Gibbons; unusually good or outstanding collections may perhaps attain 30-40% or so. Please note also that condition and presentation are vital: if stamps are torn, stained, stuck to the album page by damp or otherwise faulty, they are largely worthless. Disappointingly, even ranges of First Day Covers over several decades may well not repay the initial investment, since many thousands of people collect in this way.
3. There are of course many dealers/auctioneers up and down the country – googling ‘Philately’ or ‘Stamp Collecting’ will bring them up on your PC screen. Here we restrict ourselves to mentioning four, since all are local and it may be convenient for you to contact them and seek their view on your material:
• Provincial Philatelics, six large auctions per annum: 90 Park Road, Didcot OX11 8QR: specify ‘for auction’; contact Arthur O’Hanlon 01235 511083 or per website http://www.provincialphilatelics.co.uk
• Oxford Stamp Fair: 1st Sunday in the month, Women’s Institute Hall, Botley, contact Tristan Brittain 079 5715 8299.
• Oxford Stamp Auctions, 3rd Sunday in the month, Women’s Institute Hall, Botley: contact Tristan Brittain 079 5715 8299 or per website oxfordstampauctions@yahoo.com
• BicesterCollectors’ Market, 2nd Friday in the month, Methodist Church Hall, Sheep Street, Bicester: contact Roger Lee 01869 240555 or John Brown 077 1837 9109.
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