Understanding Stamp Values

The subject of stamp valuation is a deceptively complex one. While at first glance, determining the value of a stamp might appear to be a simple matter of turning to one of the many available reference catalogues, in fact the stamp catalogue is just the beginning of the process. At the end of the day, the final sale price of a stamp (or stamps) represents a meeting of minds between buyer and seller, and there are many factors at play in determining that price.

At their best, catalogue values represent the selling price of a stamp in an idealized situation that is rather rare: a retail transaction between a professional stamp dealer and a collector for a single stamp or complete set in a grade and condition that is a good bit above average for the issue but still not the very best. Even in such a rare, idealized situation, stamps will usually sell for a price that is at least a small discount from the catalogue value. Everybody loves a bargain after all, and stamp collectors are no exception.

The Worldwide Illustrated Stamp Identifier

The Worldwide Illustrated Stamp Identifier is a tool that helps to visually identify the country of origin of particularly challenging stamps. These stamps include those that have no country name written on them, and those where the country name is inscribed using a non-Latin writing script. The stamps have been grouped into the following categories: No Country Name, Arabic Script, Cyrillic Script, Chinese Characters, Asian Writing, and Other Writing Systems including Greek and Hebrew.

To begin using the tool, select the grouping of stamps that appears to be most similar to the unidentified stamp. This will bring you to a page with more examples from that grouping. Should you find you've gone down a blind alley, back-out and try again. The country of origin (or a good guess) for most stamps with non-Latin characters can be quickly identified using this method.
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2013 Romanian Set Celebrates Women Inventors

Features Grace Hopper, Josephine Cochrane and Stefania Maracineanu

On April 27, 2003, Romania's stamp issuing agent Romfilatelia released a set of three stamps entitled Women and Inventics in celebration of World Intellectual Property Day. Designed by Razvan Popescu, the four-color stamps feature Stefania Maracineanu (1 LEI), Josephine Cochrane (3.30 LEI), and Grace Murray Hopper (9.10 LEI).

The set is a very welcome addition to the philatelic recognition of the historical contribution of women to science, engineering and mathematics.

Working Horses of France

Horses have been a part of the French landscape since prehistoric times when wild horses were depicted on the famous cave paintings at Niaux. There are many references to horse breeding in France throughout the ancient world, and Julius Caesar himself was said to have taken an interest in the Camargue breed.

La Poste, the French Postal Authority, issued a set of 12 stamps featuring the regional working horses of France in a collectible booklet on April 5, 2013. The attractive stamps are sure to be sought after by horse enthusiasts and topical collectors alike.

The Hradcany Issue - Czechoslovakia's First Stamps

The Hradcany Issue - Czechoslovakia's First StampsIssued beginning December 1918, the first stamps of Czechoslovakia offer an affordable treat for the philatelic specialist. Known as the Hradcany issue, there are five basic types accompanied by a wealth of variations in color, paper types, perforations and plate flaws.

Czechoslovakia was one of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, established in the aftermath of World War I as part of the Treaty of St. Germain. (As time marches on, the political lines have once again been redrawn, and historical Czechoslovakia is now the territories of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Carpathian Ruthenia.)

Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist Alfons Mucha was commissioned to design the stamp. He chose the St. Vitus Cathedral at Hradcany Castle as the central element in the stamp design, seeing the landmark 14th century cathedral as having special cultural significance.

Germania Overview - Germany's Longest Running Stamp Series

Germania Overview - Germany's Longest Running Stamp SeriesThe Germania issues of 1900 to 1922 are Germany's longest running definitive stamp series. The issues span two major German political periods, the German Empire and the Weimar Republic, a time span which includes World War I and its aftermath. There are three major Germania types with numerous minor variation and a multitude of surcharges and overprints. The result is hundreds of collectible stamps. Many of the stamps are quite affordable with retail prices running from a few cents to several dollars. Of course with the series in use for such a long time, there are a number of hard-to-find and downright rare stamps to taunt collectors.

Perhaps the most dramatic of the rarities is the 2-mark value from the 1920 series with a quatrefoil pattern watermark of which only four are known. The 1920 series was printed on paper with a lozenge pattern. The quatrefoil pattern was intended for revenue stamps and the 2-mark Germania is one of several accidental uses of the paper on postal stamps. Also very hard to find from the Germania series are intact booklet panes.

Swiss Pro Juventute Stamps Raise Funds for Children and Families

Pro JuventuteFor 100 years now, Switzerland's Pro Juventute Foundation has worked to meet the needs of children and their parents. Pro Juventute is Latin meaning "For the Children." Each year at Christmas, in coordination with the Swiss Post, semi-postal stamps and philatelic products are sold to raise money for the organization. The attractive topical stamps and well-meaning intentions of Pro Juventute combine to make these issues favorites with the Swiss public and stamp collectors around the world.

Both the foundation and the stamp issuing tradition arose simultaneously in 1912 as part of an anti-tuberculosis campaign. Tuberculosis had been a major global scourge in the 19th century, responsible for as much as 25% percent of all deaths in Europe. A disease of the lungs, sufferers developed a chronic cough. It was known as Consumption because its victims would lose weight and literally waste away. Before the discovery of antibiotics, Tuberculosis was incurable, and people with the disease would be isolated in sanatoriums and other "homes for consumptives."

Leipzig Fair Philately

For the better part of 1,000 years, merchants have gathered at the Leipzig Trade Fair to sell their wares. In modern times the Leipzig Fair (Leipziger Messe in German) has produced a wealth of philatelic collectibles including stamps, covers, collector cards, and cancels. There are many opportunities for the collector. A self contained Leipziger Messe collection, part of a larger Germany collection, and the start of a topical collection focused on fairs and events are just a few possibilities.

Leipzig is the second largest city in Saxony, Germany. It has been a center of trade in Europe as far back as the time of the Holy Roman Empire when it was located at the junction of two important trade routes, the Via Regia and Via Imperii.

Royal Mail Issues Celebrate Works of Charles Dickens

Celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, on June 19, 2012 the British Royal Mail issued ten stamps along with other philatelic items featuring some of his best known characters.

The stamp series includes 2nd and 1st class rates and denominations to £1.90. The individual stamps measure 27 x 37mm. It is made up of color illustrations from the book "Character Sketches from Charles Dickens," by Joseph Clayton Clarke (better known by the pseudonym Kyd). Although published in 1890, almost 20 years after the novelist's death, Kyd's larger-than-life illustrations epitomize for many the rich characters of Dickens' stories.

Taiwan Owls Stamp Issue of 2012

Owls of Taiwan 2012Released June 6, 2012 this attractive four stamp set features native Taiwan owls. The stamps are intaglio printed in sheets of 20, in two colors on phosphorescent paper. Also available are first day covers and maxim cards.

Brown Wood Owl(Strix leptogrammica): A medium-large owl with brown plumage and a white neckband. Found in south Asia, ranging from India and Sri Lanka in the east to Indonesia and south China in the west. It lives at the edge of woodlands or in the glades of mixed forests where it feeds on small mammals, birds and reptiles.

Dmitri Mendeleyev: Dreaming Up the Periodic Table

Dmitri Mendeleyev is the Russian scientist who created the periodic table of the elements. In 2009, in honor of the 175th anniversary of Mendeleyev's birthday, Russia issued a souvenir sheet featuring a single 15 ruble stamp. The attractive commemorative souvenir sheet would be a nice fit for a science topical (thematic) stamp collection. Collectors of inventors on stamps and general Russia collectors will also want to consider adding the sheet to their collections.

It was in 1869 that Mendeleyev produced the table we all remember from chemistry classes. He had been working for a long time with the idea that there was an order to all the elements, that they could be grouped and organized. He had made up a deck of cards, each one with an element on it. He would move the cards around, searching for the order he knew was there. The story is that he fell asleep as he was puzzling over the problem and the answer, that elements can be organized by atomic weights and mass, came to him in a dream while he slept.

Stamps for Music Lovers: Belgium's 2009 Masters of Music Issue

A set of five Belgium stamps, issued on My 11, 2009, includes the following composers: Henry Purcell, GF Handel, Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and Clara Schumann. They were created from drawings by Belgian artist January Maesschalk. The stamps were issued as a sheetlet featuring one copy of each with a total value of 4.65 Euro. The stamp subjects overlap slightly and extend into the selvage, so many collectors will likely want to add the item as the complete sheetlet. The set is a nice addition to a music topical (thematic) stamp collection.

Henry Purcell, an English composer, was born in 1659. He came from a musical family; his father was a musician at Court, and his uncle also a musician, helped him become a chorister in the Chapel Royal (clergy, singers and vestry officers who serve the King) after his father\92s death.

French Art Stamp Features American Painter Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper Morning SunEdward Hopper's Morning Sun (Soleil du matin) is the subject of the French postal administration\92s 1,45 Euro stamp, released on February 3, 2012. It is another in La Poste's long-running topical art stamp series that began in 1961 at the behest of then French minister of Culture Andre Malraux as part of his Musee Imaginaire (Museum of the Imagination).

Hopper (1882-1967) was an American Painter, born in Nyack, NY a small town about 20 miles north of New York City. As a young man he made several trips to Europe, spending considerable time in France ostensibly studying art. He created several significant paintings while in Paris, but somewhat famously denied that the city had a great influence on him.

Tarzan Stamp a Tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Legacy

Tarzan of the Apes is featured on this 2012 US commemorative stamp honoring author Edgar Rice Burroughs. For Burroughs fans, the stamp was a long time coming. The stamp, associated cancels, first day covers, and other philatelic products, join a great heritage of Tarzan collectibles.

The stamp was released on August 17, 2012, at a First Day Ceremony appropriately held in Tarzana, California. Tarzana is a district in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. It is located on the site of Burroughs' ranch which he named Tarzana in honor of his famous literary hero.

The stamp was designed by Sterling Hundley and includes a picture of Tarzan as well as Burroughs, his creator. It is denominated FOREVER indicating that it will always pay the current rate for First Class mail weighing up to one ounce.

Introduction to Stamp Identification

Since the invention of the postage stamp in 1840, more than 500,000 different stamps have been produced around the world. With all of those stamps, it's no wonder that proper identification can sometimes be a challenge. In general collectors want to know the country which produced the stamp, the date(s) of issue, and if the stamp is part of a series. Beyond those basics, and particularly in the case of older, classic stamps, collectors distinguish among stamps that are identical or very similar to the naked eye but have subtle variations in the design or printing. While these distinctions might appear arbitrary to the non-collector or beginner, the specialist treats these variations as different stamps, often accompanied by a significant difference in value.

The Inverted Jenny - The World's Most Famous Stamp

There is no more iconic emblem of the stamp collecting hobby than the Inverted Jenny. The 1918 United States bi-color error features a blue Curtiss JN-4 airplane (nicknamed the Curtiss Jenny), upside down in a red frame. The dramatic nature of the error and its storied history has left the Inverted Jenny as perhaps the only stamp rarity to be widely recognized outside of the realm of stamp collectors. The stamp has appeared in numerous movies, television programs and books over the years, where simply referring to an "upside down airplane stamp" is typically enough to clue in the audience.

Norway Celebrates 100 Years of Aviation

Norway Aviation StampTo mark the occasion of the centennial of Norwegian aviation, Norway Post issued a three stamp set on May 18, 2012. The stamps picture various aircraft that have figured in the country's aviation history: "Start" a German-built Rumpler Taube denominated Kr 14.00, a Douglas DC-3 Dakota denominated KR 15.00, and a Schempp-Hirth Discus B denominated Kr 27.00.

Norway rushed into aviation on June 1, 1912 when Hans Fleischer Dons flew from Gannestadjordet in Borre near Horten, to Øra near Fredrikstad. A Swedish pilot, Carl Cederström, had already flown over the Norwegian capital of Blériot. Anxious to regain their airspace a group of naval officers organized and raised funds to buy a German Rumpler Taube.

Károly Ferenczy - The Father of Hungarian Impressionism

On February 8, 2012 Magyar Posta (Hungary Post) issued a stamp in honor of artist Károly Ferenczy on the 150th anniversary of his birth in 1862. His painting Morning Sunshine which he painted in 1905, is on the stamp. Designed by Ervin Widerkomm from a photograph by Tibor Mester, the stamp was printed by Penzjegynyomda.

His self portrait, painted in 1910, is on the first day cover. His signature is used in the postmark, as are the dates of his birth and death.

Japanese Stamps Feature Peter Rabbit and Other Beatrix Potter Characters

Peter Rabbit StampOn March 31, 2011 Japan Post issued a sheet of ten 50 yen postage stamps and a sheet of ten 80 yen postage stamps celebrating The World of Peter Rabbit. The stamps commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Japanese-language publication of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and include pictures of favorite characters and scenes from the twenty-three stories in The World of Peter Rabbit series.

Peter Rabbit, beloved all over the world, has been translated into 35 languages and sold in over 117 countries. And none of the countries is more enthusiastic about the mischievous little bunny than Japan. In addition to loving the characters and reading their stories in Japanese, young Japanese children use English versions of Peter Rabbit books to learn English.

The Grinnell Missionaries - Stamp Collecting's Greatest Controversy

On December 1, 1919, George Grinnell, a high school teacher and stamp collector, sold 43 Hawaiian "Missionary" stamps to stamp dealer John Klemann for the princely sum of $65,000. That simple statement about the transaction is one of the few you will find in the story that is not the subject of contention. Within a few weeks Klemann returned with claims that the stamps were fake, and he promptly sued Grinnell for restitution. The case went to trial in June of 1922. The court ruled that the stamps were forgeries. That ruling might have been the end of the story, but instead it turned out to be the beginning of what is likely philately's longest running controversy. Grinnell would spend the rest of his life working to prove the stamps were legitimate, and after his death his heirs carried on with the quest.

Printed in 1851-52, Hawaiian Missionary stamps were the first stamp issue of the Kingdom of Hawaii. They are referred to as Missionary stamps because they were printed and used by missionaries living on the islands. The stamps were in three denominations: a 2-cent stamp paid the newspaper rate, a 5-cent stamp paid the rate for regular mail to the United States, and a 13-cent stamp paid the rate to the US East Coast.

Louis Braille Featured on Belarus Stamp

Louis Braille StampOn January 4, 2009 the Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Belarus issued a stamp in honor of Louis Braille. The stamp was designed by Yevgeni Simonenko and Ivan Lukin and marked the 200th birthday of the inventor of braille, the tactile reading and writing system used world-wide by blind and vision-impaired people.

Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, a small town near Paris, on January 4, 1809. When he was 3 years old he was playing in his father's harness and leather goods workshop and injured his eye with an awl. The eye became infected, and the infection spread. Although he was treated by both a local doctor and specialist from Paris, they could not save his sight. He became blind in both eyes.

400th Anniversary of the Founding of Québec City

Founding of Quebec StampCompleting a five year series of issues celebrating the first French settlement in North America, on May 16, 2008 Canada Post and France\92s La Poste jointly issued a 52 cent commemorative stamp to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec. The stamp design is based on an illustration by Francis Back, a Canadian artist known for carefully researched, beautifully executed historical illustrations.

The stamp depicts Native Americans paddling a canoe and approaching explorer Samuel de Champlain's ship. On shore Champlain's men are building the habitiation, a three story building that was part home, part fort, and part warehouse - the beginning of the Kebec (Quebec) settlement. Kebec in the Algonquin language means "the place where the river narrows."

Danny Thomas Entertainer and Humanitarian

Danny Thomas, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2012, was the beloved star of The Danny Thomas Show (Make Room for Daddy) television situation comdey and known for his roles in The Jazz Singer, and I'll See You In My Dreams. He started as singer on radio, worked as a nightclub comedian, achieved great success in film and TV and moved on to be a producer for the Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle and The Mod Squad.

On February 16, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee, the US. Postal Service issued a First Class Forever stamp to honor Thomas. The artist was Tim O'Brien and the designer was Greg Breeding.

Baseball Heroes Still Competing

On July 20, 2012 in Cooperstown, NY, the U.S. Postal Service issued four self-adhesive Forever Stamps of Major League Baseball All-Stars. Willie Stargell, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Larry Doby are the celebrated athletes. The stamps, based on historic photographs, were created by artist-illustrator Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles. Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA, was the art director. The stamps were introduced at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

In order to create even more excitement about the stamps, the Postal Service held a competition called Stamps Batted In to see which of the four stamps would get the most pre-orders. Pre-orders for more than two million stamps were batted in. Never before had the public ordered as many stamps prior to their introduction.

United States Dogs at Work Issue Features Service Animals

Seeing Eye DogThe United States Postal Service honored the faithful dogs that work with and for their human friends with a set of four 65-cent stamps. They were issued on January 20, 2012 in Merrifield, Virginia. These stamps pay the rate for first-class mail weighing more than one ounce and up to and including two ounces. The stamps, painted by John M. Thompson and designed by Howard E. Paine include a seeing-eye guide dog, a therapy dog, a tracking dog, and a search and rescue dog.

Guide dogs date back to World War I. To help veterans who lost their sight in the war, a school in Potsdam Germany started training German Shepherds as guides. Dorothy Harrison Eustis, a wealthy American woman interested in training dogs, visited the school and was impressed. She wrote an article about the school that was published in the Saturday Evening Post. When Morris Frank, a young blind man from Nashville, Tennessee heard about the article, he asked her to train a dog for him.

O. Henry Featured on U.S. Stamp

O. Henry (the pen name of William S. Porter) wrote over 300 stories. The Gift of the Magi and The Ransom of Red Chief are two of his most famous. On September 11, 2012 in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth, the U.S. Postal Service issued a First Class Forever Stamp. The dedication was at the Greensboro Historical Museum in North Carolina, the city of his birth. The stamp's artist is Cap Pannell and the art director and designer is Ethel Kessler.

In addition to skill in writing, Porter was a good singer and played the guitar and mandolin. At one time he was a member of the Hill City Quartet, a musical group that played in and around Austin Texas.

Old Ironsides Commemorates War of 1812 Centennial

In honor of the centennial of the War of 1812, the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a stamp depicting the frigate USS Constitution, popularly known as Old Ironsides. The stamp is the first in a series to commemorate the centennial of the war. It is denominated "Forever," indicating that it can always be used to pay the first class rate for mail up to one ounce.

Greg Breeding designed the stamp based on a painting by Michele Felice Cornè, an Italian painter who came to Salem Massachusetts in 1800 when he was 48 years old. He moved to Boston in 1807 and is best known for his paintings of ships and battles of the War of 1812.