How can you tell the value of the stamps?

Brothers Celestino and Jerónimo Martínez were responsible for printing the first postage stamps in Colombia.

It happened on the first of September 1859, when five stamps came out in a series, with the shield of the Grenadian Confederation, as we were called in those days.

This is what the page Afitecol.com, of the Association of Philatelists of Colombia, tells us, and adds that these stamps cost according to their color: “2.5 cents, green; 5 cents, purple; 10 cents, yellow; 20 cents, blue and one peso, red”.

Moreover, it is known that the shield, as a symbol of the country, remained for many years as an image of the stamps, until 1865 or 1866.

In Colombia, philatelic issues are in charge of 4-72 and are “acts of sovereignty that governments confer to highlight the country in art, culture, science, technology, among others, and thus project the best we have before the international community,” says Luis Humberto Jimenez Morera, president of Servicios Postales Nacionales S. A. 4-72.

More words, less words, this is a matter of nation, so it is in charge of a state entity and has certain functions. For example, the first duty of a stamp is “to carry the correspondence of the postal operators in each country and also to make sure that the collectors, who are aware of the subjects, know what is new,” adds Jiménez.

He goes on to say that “it is estimated that there are 170 million collectors in the world, and each one has one or more favorite themes that make their collection even more valuable.

The entity also has a list of themes that already have stamps, among which are the centennial of the first Barranquilla Carnival queen, endemic birds of Colombia, books such as Maria by Jorge Isaacs in her 150th year, the various anniversaries of the National Police, visits by the popes (they have come out of the three that have come – Paul VI, John Paul II and Francisco-), heritage towns, day of the announcer, heroes and heroines of Colombia, independence, Political Constitution of 1991, several of the queens that the country has had (with the triumph of Luz Marina Zuluaga in Miss Universe, in 1958, a commemorative one was made), recognition of universities and entities such as the Red Cross.

The themes are varied, but the decision as to which stamps go out is linked to the “request of some entity or of a Colombian citizen who processes it before the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications (Mintic), an entity on which 4-72 depends,” Jiménez said.

Mintic then evaluates the proposal “and approves, disapproves or leaves it pending. When it is approved, a resolution is issued ordering the postal operator to issue it,” he continues.

She adds that although any citizen can make a request, it is essential to support it with arguments such as that it must be an important event, of national importance, that it is good for the country and that it is beneficial for the international community to learn or know more about Colombia, among others.

Because, among other aspects, behind a stamp there is a lot of work. “When the order is received we proceed to develop the design and determine what is going to be shown. For example, with the visit of Pope Francis we agreed with the episcopate because we had to request permission to use the image of the pontiff,” he says.

In the case of entities such as National Parks, requests that are generally approved, “we, with the resolution in hand, spoke with them to determine what we were going to show of the 59 that exist in the country. They give us the images with the corresponding copyright and we proceed to make them and put them into circulation,” he says.

The state-owned company 4-72 has three designers who work on the different themes. “This is a very delicate job because it’s done in a very small space and must say everything – literally – about the subject to be developed, be full of visual information and be very clear about what you want to convey, why; it’s not easy to synthesize so much information. What’s more, a design can start today, be finished in three months and not be anything like what was planned on the first day”, he says.

Radical changes

From the first stamps and their designs to those of today there is much more than just years of difference, also techniques and, above all, technology.

“The first ones were made in a rustic way, without teeth. Over the years, they changed, they became serrated, and, for example, today, with the advance of technology, we can put on them the smell of coffee, special ribbons with embossing, made in gold, silver, bronze inks,” explains Jiménez.

But that same technology has led to far fewer stamps being printed today because the mail has been almost entirely relegated to public documents and citations, in other words, the mail has become a source of revenue.

But that same technology has led to far fewer stamps being printed today because mail has been almost entirely relegated to public documents and citations, among other things, as very few people send personal letters anymore. In fact, says Jiménez, millions of stamps were once printed, and now there are far fewer.

Every Colombian stamp that goes into circulation goes to 192 postal museums around the world that are part of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

In Colombia, purchases for collectors can be made in the room available for this purpose in the Murillo Toro building in downtown Bogotá.

In addition, there are people who sell them, and another way is to look at the collections that are on the page of the Universal Postal Union. After the orders are paid, they are rejected by 4-72.

Most collectors prefer not only to have the stamps, but also the first day envelopes and postmarks.

Collecting stamps is, for those who have this activity, almost an art. “In Colombia there are not many in quantity, but there are many in quality, besides that we have clubs in Bogota, Medellin, Cali and other cities. It is an activity that is still alive and active”. And that has also made a chronological record of history.

In fact, this has been the case all over the world since the first stamp, which was born in England in 1840. The story goes that it was a small rectangle, measuring 19 by 23 millimetres and not jagged. It was known as the Black Penny and had Queen Victoria in profile. With her the implementation of the postal reform was made and it was determined that whoever sent an envelope paid and not whoever received it.

On 21 March 1843, the Swiss canton of Zurich issued its first two stamps, and on 1 July of that year, Brazil became the first country in the Americas to launch its stamp.

In the United States, the first stamps were printed in 1847, with portraits of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

Thus, each country shows the best it has through its stamps, goodwill ambassadors who travel the world showing cultures.

Value of stamps: How much are my stamps worth?
In the world of stamps and their collection, one of the most frequently asked questions about stamps is obviously about their stamp values, and what we hear a lot is the question

How much are my stamps worth?

Maybe you have a stamp collection that you started when you were young, or you may have inherited a nice stamp collection from your parents, grandparents or relatives, or you found an interesting stamp collection at a garage sale. No matter how you acquired your current stamp collection, the question is always there: How much are my stamps worth? How do I determine the value of the stamps in my collection?

People collect stamps for various reasons. Of course, all stamp collectors wish that one day, their valuable stamp collection has stamps that are worth a lot of money. If you are someone who thinks this way, then you will be faced with a surprising reality, because the painful truth about stamp collecting is that approximately 98% of all stamps are only worth less or the same as their face value. The most discouraging thing is that the stamp values of the remaining 2% are divided into 1% of stamps worth 10-100 USD or more, and the other 1% is worth a lot of money (the famous and rare stamps). Click here to see rare stamps.

How can you tell the value of the stamps?

If you plan to sell your stamps or simply want to know what the values of your stamps are, you have 5 options: determine the values of the stamps yourself; consult a printed book for reference; research the stamp values through the Internet; attend a stamp show or take it to a stamp expert who offers professional stamp evaluation services to help you determine the values of the stamps in your collection.

Option 1: Find out the values of the stamp for yourself


Evaluate the condition of the seal – The grade of the seal is expressed in 3 words: appearance (seal without imperfections), defective (has small imperfections, such as a small fold in the corner), or faulty (has major imperfections, such as large folds, abrasions, pores, or stains). The condition of the stamp is further divided into 7 levels: extremely fine, very fine, fine, good, average, fair, and below average.

Check the demand for the stamp: no matter how many rare stamps you have in excellent condition, you will not get a good price if stamp collectors do not look for it.

Find out if the stamp has an interesting and traceable history

Option 2: Know the stamp by a written item or catalogue reference

By reading the contents of a stamp catalogue or encyclopaedia, you can also find out about stamp values and stamp history. Some stamp catalogs include the Stanley Gibbons stamp catalog, The Stamp Collector’s Encyclopedia by R.J. Sutton, The Encyclopedia of United States Stamps and Stamp Collecting, and many more.

Option 3: Research Stamp Values on the Internet

Fortunately, there are many sites you can find on the Internet, which can help you determine the values of individual stamps and/or your stamp collection. Auction sites, stamp dealer sites, stamp forum sites and stamp sites hosted by stamp collectors and enthusiasts can easily be found online and these can give you an idea of the current market price of a particular stamp.

To learn about the StampWorld values, simply register for a free account. Click here to register for a free account. Once you’re registered, you can browse their free online catalog as much as you want. Simply click on the Catalog on the home page, and you’ll be taken to the catalog’s world map. Click here to go to the catalog. Click on the desired country, and from there you will be directed to an ordered list of all the stamps issued in that country. By using your advanced search, you can search for stamp values by country issued, year issued, pattern, type, colour, currency and denomination. Click here for Advanced Search. If you are new to StampWorld, visit the FAQ section for more information. Click here to view the Frequently Asked Questions section.

If you are the type of person who learns by watching self-help videos, check out the StampWorld catalog videos that can clearly show you how to search the catalog for stamps, where you can get all the information about a particular stamp (especially stamp values). Click here to view the StampWorld catalog videos.

Option 4: Go to a Philatelic Exhibition

Attending one or more stamp demonstrations will give you the opportunity to see the current market values for different stamps. Going to a stamp show also allows you to talk to other stamp collectors and stamp enthusiasts, and it is likely that some of them will give you their opinion regarding the values of the stamps in your collection.

Option 5: Find out the value of your stamps from an expert, dealer or appraiser

Many serious stamp collectors agree that the best way to find out the stamp values of your stamp collection is to have it professionally evaluated. There are stamp experts or dealers who offer stamp appraisal services for a fee. There are stamp dealers/appraisers who will charge you a fee and, if interested, try to buy your collection and deduct their profit.

You can find trusted local stamp dealers and appraisers who can help you determine the values of the stamps in your collection. Click here to go to the stamp dealers page.

Determining stamp values requires time, effort and research
Determining the value of stamps from stamp collections, both old and new, depends largely on what type of stamps they are. There are many and varied steps in calculating the values of stamps and how much they are actually worth.

The only foolproof way to know, on your own, the correct values of the stamps, is to learn how to thoroughly evaluate your collection, and of course, this requires time, effort and a lot of research.

The history of the United States postal service began with the delivery of letters without stamps, the cost of which was borne by the recipient, later it also encompassed pre-paid letters made by private postmen and temporary post offices, and culminated in a system of universal pre-paid letters requiring all letters to bear nationally issued adhesive stamps.

In the early days, masters of ships arriving in port with stampless mail would advertise in the names of local newspapers for those who have mail and to come collect and pay for it, if it has not been paid for by the sender. Postal output in the United States was a matter of haphazard local organization until after the War of Independence, when the time of nationality postal system was established. Letters without stamps, paid by the receiver, and private mail systems, were phased out after the introduction of adhesive stamps, first issued by the US government post office on July 1, 1847, in the denominations of five and ten cents, with the use of stamps mandatory in 1855.

The issue and use of adhesive stamps continued throughout the 19th century, mainly for first class mail. Each of these stamps usually bore the face or bust of a U.S. or other historically important state president. However, once the post office realized during the 1890s that it could increase revenues by selling stamps as “collectibles,” it began issuing commemorative stamps, first in connection with major national exhibitions, later for the anniversary of important American historical events. Subsequently, continuous technological innovation led to the introduction of special stamps, such as those used with airmail , Zeppelin mail , registered mail , by registered mail , and so on. Due postage stamps were issued for some time and were attached by the post office to the letters that have insufficient postage with the shipping charges due to pay the postal company at the receiving address.

Today, stamps issued by the post office are self-adhesive, and no longer require the stamps to be “licked” to dissolve the glue on the back. In many cases, post office employees now use Postcard Value Indicators (PVI), which are computer labels, instead of stamps.

Where for a century and a half or so, stamps were almost invariably denominated with their values (5 cents, 10 cents, etc.), the U.S. Post Office now sells non-denominated stamps “forever” for use in first class and international mail. These stamps are still valid even if there is a rate increase. However, for other uses, adhesive stamps with designation indicators are still available and sold.

Early postal history

Postal services began in the first half of the 17th century serving the first American colonies; today, the United States Postal Service is a government organization that provides a wide range of services throughout the United States and its territories abroad.

Officially sanctioned mail service began in 1692, when King William III granted an English nobleman a “patent” for delivery that included the exclusive right to establish and collect a formal postal tax on official documents of all kinds. (Years later, taxes implemented through the compulsory purchase of stamps was an issue that helped trigger the American Revolution). The tax was repealed a year later, and very few were actually ever used in the thirteen colonies; it came into service in Canada and the British Caribbean islands.

In the years prior to the American Revolution mail routes between the colonies existed along the few roads between Boston, New York and Philadelphia. In the mid-18th century, people like Benjamin Franklin and William Goddard were the colonial postal administrators who accomplished the post office then and were the general architects of a postal system that began as an alternative to the Crown Post (the colonial mail system then) that was now increasingly distrusted as the American Revolution approached. The postal system that Franklin and Goddard forged with the American revolution became the standard for the new United States post office and is a system whose basic designs are still used in the United States postal service today.

Post offices and postmarks

In 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General, the United States Post Office was born. So important was the Postmaster General that in 1829 this position was included among those in the President’s Cabinet. As the United States started growing and new cities and towns started appearing, so did the post office along with them. The dates and postmarks generated from these places have often provided the historian with a window on a given time and place in question. Each postage stamp is unique with its own state and city name, in addition to its date stamp. Post offices that existed along the railroad lines and at various military posts have their own special historical aspect. Electronic and postage stamps generated from prisoner of war camps during the civil war, or from aboard warships, each with a U.S. post office on board, can and have offered surprising insights into American history and are eagerly sought after by historians and collectors alike.

Mail Before Stamps

Before the introduction of stamps, it was the recipient of mail from the non-shipper who usually paid the postage, giving the fee directly to the postman on delivery. The task of collecting money for one letter after another much slower than the postman on his route. Moreover, the recipient could sometimes refuse a piece of mail, which then had to be taken back to the post office (post office budgets always allowed for an appreciable volume of unpaid-for mail). Only occasionally did a sender pay postage in advance, an arrangement that usually required a personal visit to the post office. To be sure, some postal managers allowed citizens to run credit accounts for their mail delivered and paid in advance, but these accounting for them constituted another inefficiency.

Postage stamps revolutionized this process, leading to universal pre-payment; if not a precondition for issuance by a nation, it was the establishment of standardized rates for delivery throughout the country. If postal rates were to remain (as they were in many countries) a patchwork of many different types of jurisdiction, the use of stamps would only produce limited efficiency gains, as postal employees would still have to spend time calculating rates on many letters: only then would they know how much postage to put on them.

Issue interim stamps

The introduction of postage stamps in the United Kingdom in May 1840 was received with great interest in the United States (and around the world). Later that year, Daniel Webster stood up in the United States Senate to recommend that recent English standardized postal reforms and the use of stamps be adopted from America.

It would be the private company, however, that brought stamps to the U.S. On February 1, 1842 a new transportation service called “Post Office City” began operations in New York City, introducing the first adhesive postage stamp to have been produced in the Western Hemisphere, which its customers were required to use for all mail. This stamp was a 3¢ theme bearing a drawing rather than amateur George Washington, printed from line plates engraved on 42-picture sheets. The company had been founded by Henry Thomas Windsor, a London merchant who at that time was living in Hoboken, New Jersey. Alexander M. Greig was announced as the subsequent “agent”, and as a result, historians and philatelists have tended to refer to the firm simply as “Greig City Post Office”, with no mention of Windsor. In another innovation, the company placed electronic collection boxes around the city for the convenience of its customers.

A few months after its founding, the Post Office City was sold to the U.S. government, which renamed it “United States Post Office City. The government began operation of this post office on August 16, 1842, by an act of Congress a few years earlier that authorized local delivery. Greig, retained by the post office to run the service, kept the original Washington seal of the firm in use, but had soon altered its letters to reflect the name change. In its revised form, this item consequently became the first postage stamp produced under the auspices of a government in the Western Hemisphere.

An Act of Congress of March 3, 1845 (July 1, 1845), uniformly established (and above all reduced) postal rates throughout the country, with a uniform rate of five cents for distances of less than 300 miles (500 km) and ten cents for distances between 300 and 3000 miles. However, Congress did not authorize the production of stamps for use throughout the country until 1847; however, postal administrators realized that standard rates now made it feasible to produce and sell “provisional” items for advance payment of uniform postal rates, and these were printed in bulk. Such tentative items include both envelopes and pre-paid stamps, mostly of the raw design, the provisional New York Postmaster being the only one of comparable quality to the later stamps.

The Baltimore provisional themes were notable for the signature reproduced from the postmaster – the City of James M. Buchanan (1803-1876), a cousin of President James Buchanan. All tentative themes are rare, some exceedingly so: at an auction at New York’s Siegel Gallery in March 2012, one example of the Millbury Provisional sold for $400,000, while copies of the Alexandria and Annapolis Provisionals each sold for $550,000. Eleven cities printed provisional stamps in 1845 and 1846:

In 1845 an act of Congress, in fact, increased the rate of an important class of mail: the so-called ‘drop letter’, a letter delivered from the same post office that picked it up. Previously one penny, the drop letter rate converted two pennies.