The value of stamps

More people are fascinated by stamps than you might think, as they are works of art as well as historical and geographical records.

Their history began on 6 May 1840 with the British Penny Black. Gradually, stamps were issued in other countries, and by the 1850s the first collectors were buying stamps. These trailblazers began to build general collections and trade in stamps.

For some collectors, stamps proved a sound investment with a high potential for appreciation.

Over the years, a separate branch of the economy developed, which still exists today. Despite being comparatively small, the size and diversity of the philatelic market can be daunting, even for experts.

Specialist knowledge is required to manage stamps profitably.

Stamps as value objects

Can stamps be used as an investment?

As part of a diversification strategy, an investment in stamps is certainly recommended for spreading risk. The value of stamps in the medium and higher price categories have been surprisingly stable over the years, even when adjusted for purchasing power and despite a marked decline in collector purchases. However, choosing the right stamps for investment is crucial if you hope to make a profit.

For a safe investment, you need to understand the collection area in which you’re interested. It’s also important to know that the stamps most suited to investment are not available in large quantities and are usually only offered at major auctions.

Not all stamps are ideal investments. Suitability can depend on the year of issue and the collection area, as well as condition.

Of particular interest are:

  • Stamps from 1840 and 1870 in very good condition.

  • International standard values, i.e. special stamps in small editions with issue dates up to 1950.

  • First-class collections that focus on one country or region, and ideally on one period.

  • Stamps from the old German states, Swiss stamps and other special rarities.

To be on the safe side and achieve a guaranteed return, seek professional advice from a specialist or auction house. The years of experience of our philatelists and our constant observation of the market guarantee an optimal result. If you are considering investing a large sum of money in historic stamps, seek our professional advice.

Stamps as value objects

How is the value of an object determined?

To estimate the approximate value of a stamp collection or single stamp, we take several factors into account. First, we check whether the collection has been systematically built up by area and period. It is also an indication of the quality of the collection if a lot of time and money has been spent and the stamps are in good condition. We pay special attention to our search for rarities. These are, of course, particularly sought after and can be sold accordingly.

Current market trends are also taken into account. Read about the factors that determine value.

Determining the value of a collection can be incredibly challenging for hobbyists and laypeople. Our expert philatelists have years of experience and know the current market prices and relevant criteria when determining value.

Let us help you discover how much your stamps are worth!

Stamps as value objects

Forgeries and other pitfalls

Forgeries are occasionally found in a stamp collection, but they aren’t necessarily worthless. Philatelists consider some forgeries to be special collector's items and can even be more valuable than the original stamp. For example, the works of the famous stamp forger Jean de Sperati are almost indistinguishable from the originals and are often auctioned as ‘Sperati forgeries’, often fetching high prices.

These works of art were created with such precision that they remain unrecognised in many collections to this day. Valuable forgeries are even listed by value in catalogues and specialist literature.

Read more about the different types of forgery and how you, as a collector, can spot them.

Stamps as value objects

The most valuable stamps ever sold

Relatively few people invest in world philatelic rarities, but those who do can benefit significantly. Let’s look at some past postage-stamp investments:



Three stamped envelopes, each containing an invitation to a ball in Mauritius on 21 September 1847, have survived to this day. King Charles III has one in his stamp collection, another is in the British Library's Tapling Collection, and the third surviving cover is the only one in private hands.

The latter was sold in 2021 by Christoph Gärtner Auctions for 8.1 million euros.



In 1853, the stamps requested from England did not arrive in the British Crown Colony of Guyana, so the postmaster commissioned a local printer to issue three different stamps on a temporary basis, which he signed. A 1-cent magenta stamp is believed to be the only surviving stamp and was sold at auction in New York in 2021 for approximately $7 million euros.


The Tre Skilling Yellow was issued in Sweden in 1855 as one of five different stamps, including a green 3-skilling stamp and a yellow-orange 8-skilling stamp. For unknown reasons, but likely due to a printing error, [DE1] a sheet of yellow 3-skilling stamps entered circulation. Today, only one is known to exist. The auction house Edgar Mohrmann sold it in 1978.


In 1996, it was sold by a Swiss auction house for 1.6 million euros. It changed hands again with the same auction house in 2010.


On 1 May 1851 the first stamps of Baden were issued. Blue-green paper was used for 6 kreuzer, violet-pink for 9 kreuzer. Due to a mix-up of the paper types, there was a printing error and some 9-kreuzer stamps were printed on blue-green paper by mistake. Of these printing errors, only three canceled copies are known. One of the copies was hammered in 2019 for around 1.3 million euros.


A printing error on the first US airmail stamp, issued in 1918, shows the airplane in reverse. Today, 100 copies of the printing error are known.

In 2021, a New York auction house sold one for 4.4 million euros. Christoph Gärtner auctions also sold a copy in 2021.