My mum has just given me my late father’s coin and stamp collections to dispose of. I know nothing about either; where is the best place to start? Will dealers give me a fair price, or should I try to sell privately? If so, is eBay the answer?
We gave my mother’s coin and stamp collections to Oxfam. The local shops pass them on to a specialist central department, which as far as I know sells them to dealers. If your father’s estate was above the inheritance tax threshold, the collections would presumably have been valued and declared. If you then give them to a registered charity their value is exempt from tax.
Hilary Jane, Manchester
Expertise is essential
As a dealer in collectable items, selling primarily online, I would advise you against trying to dispose of your father’s collection on eBay. If you know little about coins and stamps it will be extremely difficult to describe the items or give accurate assessments of their condition – a very important factor in coin collecting and pricing. As for selling to a dealer or private collector, it is very hard to tell the difference. Most dealers are collectors and those in search of a bargain seldom advertise they are dealers. My advice is therefore to get the experts on your side rather than pitted against you. Take the collection to a specialist auction house such as Warwick & Warwick. They will know what will and won’t sell, whether items should be sold individually or as a collection, and how to accurately catalogue items to attract dealers and collectors worldwide. The auctioneer receives a percentage of the sale price from both the buyer and the seller (approx 15% each) and it is in their interest to get the best possible price for you.
H Chapman, Leighton Buzzard, Beds
If you are disposing of a stamp collection, the best place to start is the Philatelic Traders Society. They have about 450 member dealers in the UK who abide by the society’s code of ethics. You also have recourse to the society if anything goes wrong with a transaction. You can also find member dealers in your area willing to give you a price. Always get two or three quotes, as dealers have different buying requirements. Some might be more interested in your stamps than others and may be willing to pay more.
Rob Myers, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts
As a 13-year-old, I would suggest keeping them to pass on to a relative. I am looking forward to the day I get my grandad’s collection, with stamps costing four million marks from his national service days in Hamburg. It will be very interesting and also a lovely thing to remember him by. I especially look forward to looking at all the different colonies around then.
Samuel Boyd, Guildford, who wins this week’s £25 National Book Token
Ask the experts
You could find out if he was a member of a club. Get in touch with them and they may offer a trustee and executor service, ensuring that valuation is fair and realistic – they might even be able to liaise with dealers or auction houses on your behalf, or at least offer you some help. Alternatively, see if your late father subscribed to a specialist magazine for either hobby, and read the back issues or get in touch with the editor to identify possible dealers or auctions to approach.
Tim Knights, Northamptonshire
Internet is worth the time and effort
Most dealers would give a “fair” price, although they only buy to sell again at a profit. If you can spare the time and effort list the items on eBay, I think it would give the best returns. You need to describe items accurately and aim for the listing to end in the evening at the weekend, preferably in winter – this is when the majority of buyers will be looking.
Peter McCann, Preston
World wide auction
I am afraid I don’t have much faith in either stamp or coin collectors. A few years ago I was told my George VI collection, minus one or two valuable stamps, was worth £4,000 by two dealers, who, however, wouldn’t give me that for it. When I put them up for auction in London I got £1,800 – ridiculously low. I would try to sell your precious items separately and on the internet, getting them valued first and then putting a reserve price on them. That way you will get dealers interested from around the world and may get a fair auction.
Pam Hardyment, Twickenham
Collections, well presented, can be individual and beautiful accessories for one’s home – all the more so if they are sentimental reminders of a loved one. I suggest mounting the collection in frames to give as gifts to family and friends.
Madeleine Clegg, London
Gauge the market
eBay may not necessarily be the best way to sell your collection, but it’s certainly the ideal method of establishing its worth. It shouldn’t be too hard to find similar or identical items for sale and then monitor their progress. eBay, through its sheer scale, has diminished rarity and sent prices down, so be prepared for some disappointment.
bramble, via the Money blog
Deal with a dealer
A first step might be to take them to reputable dealers who will be able to tell you whether there is anything of particular value, and quite possibly make you an offer. If you just want a valuation, they might charge a fee, but since you want to sell that needn’t be a problem. If there’s nothing of particular value they will tell you as much, so you don’t need to worry about being ripped off by unscrupulous buyers. For stamps try Stanley Gibbons, and for coins try Spink.
zangdook, via the Money blog
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