Guest blog from Tracy at Gold PTS Member, Empire Philatelists
First published 28th January, 2021.
First, and foremost, whether you are looking for a dealer to buy from, or sell to, “Look for the Shield”.
This tells you the dealer is a member of the Philatelic Traders Society (PTS). Stamp traders using the shield are PTS trusted and abide by a strict code of conduct. As a collector you can be confident when buying or selling stamps with a trader displaying this shield.
The PTS is a philatelic trade body that has your back should your dealing with any of its members goes wrong.
You can see all PTS Members with contact details and links to websites and stores on the PTS Online Member Directory.
Buying from a Stamp Dealer
Here are some additional checks you can make:
Do they have a website that is easy to navigate, describes the items clearly and shows good, clear, high res images of what you are buying?
If they have an eBay store, check their eBay Feedback. This is a good indication of buyer satisfaction.
Check their returns policy. Do they offer no quibble returns?
What is their policy if your purchase gets lost in the post? Will they refund you?
Do they offer a guarantee if your purchase is not as described?
Is there a certificate with the stamp? If not, do they offer this service, or will they pay for the certificate if you want one?
Phone the dealer or send them an email. Do they reply? Do they answer your questions? Do they have time to help you?
Google the business name. Does the business exist? If there is a Google Knowledge Panel on the left of your screen this means Google has verified the business. Another indication of a reputable business.
Selling to a Stamp Dealer
First and foremost, a reputable stamp dealer will not charge you to value your collection if you are looking to sell.
Choose a dealer that gives you peace of mind that they understand what you want. Are you looking to sell your inheritance or do you just want your prize collection valued?
Most dealers would ask you to send images and a brief description of your collection to get an overview of what you have. Some dealers also offering Zoom meetings where you can virtually meet the dealer and show them your collection.
A reputable dealer will arrange to meet you and would be able to tell, almost instantly, if the collection is of value or whether it requires further investigation. If the collection is, what the industry calls “a school boy collection” then they would either make an offer there and then or point you in the direction of where you can sell it (we usually give names and phone numbers of auction houses close to the seller).
If the collection requires further investigation then the dealer will arrange for the collection to be left with them in order for them to give a better valuation. A receipt for the collection will always be given.
If the seller is not close (in proximity) they would arrange for the collection to be collected from the seller, value it and then, either make an offer, or return it. Some will also offer a Zoom meeting to view the collection virtually, if that is your preference.
Finally, trust your instinct. If you think something looks fishy, you are in the wrong place!!