Chapter 09
Selling Material to a Mail-Order Dealer

If you read the previous chapter, you should read this one too.

Before going on, I need to elaborate a little on the term “mail-order dealer.” This is not really a good term, but I cannot think of a better one. The problem is with geography and overall definition. You may find a local stamp dealer near your home. You may have to travel to find a stamp dealer. You may find a stamp dealer who travels from city to city attending stamp shows (covered in chapter 12.) Some dealers from a far-away city may be willing to come to your home for free to look at your collection, assuming it is a significant collection. Some dealers operate only by mail. Of these some may be huge organizations and some may be tiny.

Thus the distinction between local dealer and mail-order dealer is blurred. The overall goal, of course, is to find a dealer who wants to buy the material that you happen to have and to pay you the best prices for the material. This may take a little work on your part. This may be as easy as looking in your local phone book. Or it may take a little more research. Simply be aware that there are dealers of all kinds all over the country, Hopefully, this chapter and the previous one will give you a few clues as to where to look.

For simplicity, let’s define a mail-order dealer as one you do not deal with in person, face-to-face.

The advantages of using a local dealer over a mail-order dealer are speed of payment and convenience of getting the material to them. On the other hand, mail-order dealers usually can handle highly specialized collections that a local dealer may not want. In some cases, the mail-order dealer will have a larger amount of cash available for purchasing sizable collections.

The advantages of using a mail-order dealer as opposed to using an auction house are:

1. They will take medium-value collections.

2. You will generally get your money faster.

Some mail-order companies are huge. Some are just one person working out of his/her den or basement. The most active ones advertise in Linn’s. (Linn’s is good about making sure their advertisers are reputable; however, I would still look for “APS” or “ASDA” in the ads.) Get a copy (see chapter 25), and look through the ads. You will find full-page ads and two-inch ads in the classifieds.

If you have a country collection, you are likely to find dealers who specialize in that country (e.g., Japan or China). This is also true if you have a specialized collection such as duck stamps or EFOs.

Call them up on the phone and talk to them about what you’ve got. Many can ask you some questions and give you a rough estimate of the value of the collection on the phone.

Some will travel to see you if your collection is worth enough (usually $10,000 or more in sale value; $40,000 or more SCV).

If they are interested in what you’ve got, they’ll ask you to ship it to them. Ship it via some insured way and ship it in a way that you get a signed receipt (see chapter 21). In a few days (usually no more than 2 weeks), you will get an offer. This could be by a telephone call. More than likely, however, you’ll get a nice letter and a check in the mail. The letter says you can accept the offer by simply cashing the check. If you don’t like the offer, return the check as rapidly as possible but always within the number of days specified by the dealer (usually 30), and they’ll send your material back. Normally you will have to pay for the cost to return the material.

Note: call before sending material if you are unsure if they want that sort of material, or if you are really unsure as to the value. Some companies will return the material to you if they do not want it. Others may send you a letter requesting return instructions which basically means you have to pay return postage. Perhaps 99% of the time, if you have done your homework, and you have a reasonable idea of what you’re selling, you won’t get a return.