U.S. Postage Stamps Below Face Value

First off, I am not selling stamps. I'm a philatelist. I've been collecting stamps for all my life. In the stamp weekly newspapers, I came across a few stamp dealers who buy huge lots of stamps at estate sales, stamp auctions, and from other stamp dealers.

Found in many of these huge lots of stamps are large amounts of stamps which have little or no resale value to the stamp collector but never the less are mint stamps issued by the US Post Office. In order to liquidate these stamps, dealers sell them at less than face value to anyone who wants to buy them.

Why do they sell them for less than face value? If they (the dealers) purchase a lot that has $1000-$2000 face value, even they would not be able to use them for their own use as they might only use $100-$200 per year for postage on the total number of letters that they send out. So, they sell these excess mint stamps at below face value.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the stamps they sell valid for postage even though they might be 30-50 years old? Yes, as long as the stamps are regular or commemorative stamps. The dealers generally do not sell you any stamps that could not be used for putting on letters.

Do the stamps have full gum so that they can be stuck on an envelope? Yes. I just put on a 1935 3c commemorative stamp (plus addititional stamps to make up the first class rate) to my mother and it stuck fine. She tears them off and sends them back to me. I'll donate the cancelled stamps to a veterans home for their fun.

Can you request a certain postage value, e.g., 5 cent stamps only? Generally no, but the dealer will sometimes tell you that they have 5c-15c values that they will send. If you are willing to pay straight face value (instead of the discount below face), then you can almost always request a specific value, e.g., "I want all 5 cent stamps", and often you might get a list of either sheets, plate blocks, or single stamps of one issue (design) that you can order. For example, I just ordered 50 plate block stamps of the 6 cent moon explorer at face because they are two stamps in a moon scene, earth on one stamp and the moon explorer vehicle on the other stamp. I also just ordered 100 plate blocks of the Cape Hatteras scene (4 two-cent stamps making a quite nice beach scene) for face value of $8.

Do you have to purchase a certain minimum amount? Yes, they will generally be fairly large lots. The dealer I deal with has usually $100, $200, and $500 lots with the largest lots having the greatest discount. The last lot I bought was $100 face value for $92 including shipping/handling. If you  buy a $500 lot, the discount goes down to 12%. The discount may vary depending on the supply that the dealer has on hand.

Are there any disadvantages to buying the stamps? Yes. Do you know how many 3c stamps it takes to mail a 44c letter? Try 14 3-cent + a 2-cent stamp. But generally, I order some specific 22-cent stamps at face, then put on four 3c stamps and one 10c stamp to make the 44 cent first class rate.

Does the post office personnel "hate" you for using such old stamps? For 15 years I've been using these old stamps on letters, packages, and even next day air envelopes. In all that time, I just had one post office clerk complain -- he counted the next day air envelope 4 times to check if there was the correct postage and came up with a different answer each time, and he then gave up. Except for the send-to label, the 9" x 12" next day air envelope was covered entirely with 3c, 4c, 5c, 6c stamps plus a small bunch of $1 and $2 stamps in the corner to make up the next day air rate express mail rate. In many cases, especially when the next day envelope is handed to the post office clerk covered with these old stamps, the clerk often calls over the other post office clerks to look at all the old stamps on the envelope. I almost always make sure that all of the stamps are different on the envelope, yes sometimes 30-40 different stamps, and to me its really a very impressive envelope, indeed.

Do I do this in order to save on my postage? No. Its just really fun to do, and the people who get your letter(s) usually have a great time seeing all the different stamps. In several instances on business letters, it actually has made a good business connection with my clients. Several new clients have started up a conversation about the 40 year old stamps, and from there they have remained a client of ours, and one client has even said that he knows when my bill comes in because of the variety of old stamps and immediately takes care of paying the bill instead of putting it on a pile for later payment.

How do you get these stamps at a discount off of face? You can go to any library and look for Linn's Stamp News and in the classified section there will be 3-5 dealers who are selling stamps at between 3%-12% below face, depending on quantity ($) ordered, or go onto Ebay and search for "mint face" or "mint below face" in the "STAMPS" category. Make sure you also factor in your postage and insurance (if required) so that when you bid you don't pay more than face. Some deals on Ebay have free postage, too.

Am I getting any "profit" or "kickback" for recommending a dealer? No. I just love stamps, want to tell persons about the fun I have, and I've been purchasing stamps from this one dealer for about 21 years now, so I'm just relaying along what I know about him.

Who's the dealer that I use? Karl Anderson, POB 51258, Provo, UT 84605  Phone: 801-375-7645

Am I related to Karl Anderson or do I know of him as a friend? Nope. I found him in Linn's Stamp News newpaper (21 years ago), and the relationship is strictly stamp dealer to stamp customer.

Is Karl paying me or in any way reimbursing me for informing people about his stamp business? No.

How does it work? After your first order, Karl (about 2-4 times a year), will send you (at least he does for me) a price list of 8-15 pages of price sheets, some for collectors (like mint sheets, plate blocks, Canadian mint, United Nations mint), and some about the mint postage stamps he has available. Currently, he pays for postage when you order $75 or more from him). He puts on the outside of the package of stamps you order some modestly valuable stamps (at least to him) which he wants returned, and he also provides you with a self-addressed stamp envelope for you to return the cancelled stamps from the front of the order envelope (otherwise he requests you send him some postage money). He states on the post card: "SEE MY BUY AND SELL ADS EACH WEEK IN LINN'S STAMP NEWS. I HAVE BEEN A STEADY ADVERTISER SINCE 1975." All I know is that he's always sent me a nice selection of stamps which I use both for my personal and business use and have dealt with him for 21 years.

How do I order from him? I particularly like the 15c coral reef stamps (Scott #1827-1830), so when I get his availability list, I check for this particular stamp and place the order for all that he has available. I use this to send off our literature packet of information about our house we rent in the Bahamas, and the literature is just a shade under 2 ounces, so it takes 61 cents to send of the packet -- just right for the 4 different 15 cent stamps in a block + a 1c stamp. These particular stamps are usually at face value, but they are so beautiful. Anyway, I send in my "buy" request via email on the stamps I want from his price sheet, and he confirms (usually) by the next day the total amount that he can "fill" in my order. I also just recently got some Daffey Duck stamps and Bugs Bunny stamps (32 cents & 33 cents) at less than face value. I usually then get whatever balance in "scrap" other value stamps to make up a $75 order. If you just want a random variety, then go for the $100 face lot which costs (usually) $92. Remember, he pays the postage and insurance to send your order.

His email address: KSASTAMPS@aol.com (no link here -- you'll have to type this in in your email program)

Anyway, hope you have fun with this idea.

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