Chapter 12
Stamp Shows

Read this chapter if you do not know what a stamp show is. Also read this chapter if you have large quantities of MNH USA sheets, booklets or coils.


12.1 General Information

A stamp show is basically a stamp club, a group of stamp clubs called a federation, or a group of dealers who rent a convention hall (smaller shows are normally in a meeting room at a hotel) and set up tables for a two- or three-day selling and buying session. This session is called a bourse. If sponsored by a club or a federation, the show will usually feature stamp and cover exhibits in stand-up frames, meetings of national collector groups and other events.

If you live in a very large city (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.), you may have large "mega-events" once or twice a year. Larger dealers from around the country will attend these. If you are near a smaller city (Nashville, Denver, Sacramento, etc.), you can expect two or three smaller shows a year. The smaller shows are visited by local dealers and "traveling" dealers. Traveling dealers are individuals who move from show to show and basically live in motels nine months out of the year. They pack everything into a van and spend each weekend in a different city at a different show.

A stamp show gives you the opportunity to visit a lot of dealers (usually five to ten) in a short period of time. All of the same rules which were discussed in chapter 8 also apply here. If you find a dealer you like, talk to him/her. If you find one you don’t like, move to the next table.

You will find the dealers each has a different need based upon his/her own expertise and customer base. Some have no interest in foreign stamps; some have no interest in USA stamps. Most will be happy to point you to another dealer who wants what you’ve got. All of the dealers at the show usually know each other, and they know what each is buying and selling. In fact, some people will tell you the main purpose of a show is for dealers to buy and sell to each other.

Here is an important fact to keep in mind: Except for the current stamps available at the post office, a stamp dealer can only replenish stamps by buying from an individual, from an auction or from another dealer. Sometimes, you will see more dealers buying at a show than selling. (Do not be misled by a statement like, "I haven’t sold anything today, but I sure have spent a lot of money." That may very well be true, but you shouldn’t feel sorry for the dealer. They are simply buying up material that they know can be sold to their regular customers by mail or back home!)



12.2 How To Find A Stamp Show

There are several ways to find a stamp show.

1. Linn’s Stamp News (see chapter 25) has a regular section in the back which lists all upcoming stamp shows.

2. Check the bulletin board at your local post office. Often, you find a notice posted that announces a local show. Or, you might find the phone number of a local stamp club.

3. Call the local stamp club. If you don’t know if there is one, ask at the local post office. They might know. If not, send a SASE to:

Linn’s Stamp Club Center
P.O. Box 29
Sidney OH 45365-0029

They will send you the address of a stamp club near you based on your ZIP code.

or check online: 

4. Ask at a local stamp dealer. They will sometimes have a notice on a bulletin board that announces an upcoming show.

5.  Ask your local postmaster if he/she knows of an upcoming show.



12.3 MNH USA Sheets, Booklets and Coils

If you have a lot of these items, a stamp show is usually a good place to sell them. Remember, in bulk, you are probably going to get 80% of face value.

If you have found your “premium” sheets (see chapter 14), you can ask for the higher price from a dealer and normally get it. All dealers who want USA stamps normally want the same USA stamps and normally pay around the same prices for them.

If you have a lot of the “80%-of-face” sheets, here is a trick:

1. Sell off your premium sheets first.

2. After that, pull out your 80% sheets. Say to the dealer, “I’d like to get face value for these. Would you look through them and see if there are any you want. You can pick and choose just the ones you want!”

3. Many dealers will quickly flip through the album or stack of sheets, and they’ll actually spot a few stamps they’re low on. They’ll pull out the sheets they want, and they give back the rest. Then, you just add up the face value and accept their money.

4. Find another USA dealer and repeat steps 2 and 3. He/she may buy some more sheets.

5. Try this with several dealers. You’ll may find you sell half your MNH this way! Then you can sell the remainder at a discount if you like, or you can take the remainder home to use as postage. Many dealers will even invite you to return to their booth if you decide to sell at a discount.

Hint: After each dealer, go outside and walk around a little or have a drink, a snack or lunch. When you return, you may find you actually have dealers calling you over so they can look at what you’ve got. While you were outside, the first dealer (or the guy in the next booth) may have told somebody else that you’ve got stamps they might want. News of what dealers are doing travels fast in a stamp show.