I want to know… ?
Are stamps valuable ?
No and yes. Many stamps, even stamps of 100 years ago, exist in tens of thousands and do not have a scarcity value as they are commonplace.
On the other hand stamps may be valuable because few were issued or few survived, for instance stamps with high face values which might have been used infrequently, as on parcels.
Even a fairly scarce stamp will have little value if it is hardly sought by collectors. But if two or more collectors are keen on a particular item and bid against each other at auction, the value of the item is bound to rise.
The condition of a stamp is also a factor which determines its desirability. A damaged or smudged stamp will be of lower value than a good one.
I have an old South African stamp with a ship on it, I think Van Riebeeck’s ship. Is it valuable ?
The red one penny value stamp with Van Riebeeck’s ship was in use for almost 30 years and is common and of little or limited value. The stamp is inscribed unilingually in English or Afrikaans and collectors like to have it in horizontal pairs to show both languages. Pairs command a premium.
Over the years the stamp was reprinted many times and one could make a study of these printings as various differences can be identified. A research collection will have value.
The stamp was also used to pay a tax on business receipts issued (for government revenue). These stamps can usually be identified by a handwritten date or initials on the stamp. By definition such stamps do not belong in a collection of postage stamps.
From a relative I have album with some stamps of many countries, neatly placed on pages with the country name. Is the collection valuable ?
Usually not. Called “schoolboy collections” such albums today are of little value, if any. Often stamps are damaged, sets of stamps are incomplete, items may be missorted etc. In any case one cannot ‘collect the world’.
But such an album can be a good start, if you select a country or subject which you like, and build from there to form a smart new collection.
I have a box full of first day covers from South Africa and also Transkei and other homelands. They are in excellent condition. Is it valuable ?
No. Some of these first day covers were produced in quantities of up to 150 000, with the postmark printed onto the cover by a printing press. Being attractive souvenirs, and reasonably priced, thousands were collected by people the 1970s and 1980s.
Since then hundreds of collections have come onto the market, which is flooded. If you sell today, you may hardly get the original face value of the stamps.
The Federation’s promotion committee has suggested that there is a way to get value out of the box of first day covers. Check if there is a young relative at school – in the higher grades of primary school the learners get assignments or projects to do, and maybe there is a first day cover that relates to a project subject. Give the item to the youngster to include on his/her project, and it is due to enhance the work and score points.
What can I collect ?
That is entirely up to you. Take your time to decide, look what others are doing, and how they are doing it, and chat to stamp friends at the club get-togethers. Then a good start may be to buy a collection on the subject, and get the literature and source references.