There are many factors that affect the value of old postage stamps. How old they are is only one factor of value among many. One thing that affects the value, old or not, is how rare they are. Another issue, especially old ones, is their condition. The fewer the number that were issued, or if old, the scarcity of those that remain, dictates their value.

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The condition that determines the value falls into different categories. Old ones in mint condition have value because they appear to be new, which is impressive. The value is also affected by cleanliness and color. Faded ones have less value than those closer to the original color. Those that have been cancelled have less value than those that have not, and ones with a light cancellation mark have more value than those with dark cancellation marks.

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The value also requires that they be intact. Those that are torn have little to no value. How they are perforated also affects value. Being perfectly centered inside the perforations is the ideal for high value, while those not well centered or with perforated designs have lower value. Ones without perforations may have value for being rare, since the original American postage stamps were not perforated; ones that are unperforated in error also have higher value. But some new ones are not perforated and not valuable, so you can’t assume the value just based on perforations.

To determine the value, there are various sources of information. Several catalogs are devoted to the purpose of listing the value. Local stamp dealers and stamp clubs are other good sources for determining the value. Just because they are old does not mean they have value. Some old ones from the 1800s only have a book value of 15 cents.

The value isn’t the same as the price you can expect to receive if you sell them. Catalogs show the top price that collectors may expect to pay for old stamps. Dealers who will re-sell your stamps have to pay you less to buy so that they can make a profit when they sell them for the book price; in other words, they buy old ones for less than their book value. If you are determined to get the maximum value, you may need to sell them directly to a collector.

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