When Should I Realize the Value in my Collection?
Notes for the Advice of Collectors by Warwick Paterson
Specialised and Superior New Zealand Philatelic Properties
Perhaps the most difficult and often overlooked phase for any collector – the decision of the appropriate time and the most effective means of disposing of his stamps.
In my opinion, the hurdle looms larger simply because of the nature of collecting. To most serious practitioners the act and the art of collecting often has as one of its most attractive qualities, a suspension of “time awareness”, and together with all the other qualities present, this is one of its most beguiling.
There are, however, certain well-established principles involved in the disposal of any collection and to ignore them is to risk financial loss. These are the facts which must inevitably be faced by everyone who owns valuable property which represents an input of capital, judgement, and expertise.
Any decision either to collect or to sell has to be a strictly individual one based on the requirements of those concerned. Not least among these is the on-going pleasure that can be gained by continuing a collection as long as it is practical to do so. It’s been said that a true collector never sells his stamps; if he is wise he may be better to – eventually.
What follows, therefore, is an attempt to assist in planning. In Part One I attempt to deal with some of the constants which apply to most potential vendors, and in the second part I offer answers to a number of typical questions which are regularly asked by clients trying to make decisions about disposal.
Observation has convinced me that:
- Any material purchase of philatelic property over a period of years inevitably comes to form a significant investment. It is realistic to review, on a regular basis, all security aspects relating to the collection – storage, protection against deterioration, insurance, security from theft, and so forth. An ounce of planning for all eventualities can save serious loss and trauma, particularly where family and beneficiaries may be involved at a future time.
- At some time in the future, all collectors should come to terms with a decision to provide for the disposal of their stamps.
- The best possible person to dispose of a collection is a collector himself/herself.
- It is unwise to leave disposal of valuable specialised property entirely to Executors, Solicitors, and Trustees.
- It is unreasonable to expect non-expert beneficiaries in an Estate, be they widows or family, to face the major hurdle of sorting out a collection and supervising its disposal.
- It is better to apply a policy of phased disposal of the collection, allowing time to achieve a sale(s). In my experience, the more valuable the collection and the more specialised, the greater the time that should be allowed for the disposal.
- One successful policy allows for a gradual rationalisation of a collection into areas of particular interest, allowing the controlled disposal of other important material. This is a practical way to approach effective disposal.
- The maximisation of the return on a collection, and the returning to the owner of the true market value of that collection, is the primary objective.
- A collector disposing of a collection is better to maintain an attitude of firm realism about the value of his stamps rather than allowing unreasonable expectations to cloud his judgement.
- A well-informed collector, or one who has taken the trouble to remain in touch with collecting and market trends, handles a disposal most effectively.
- The establishment of trust and confidence in dealers or advisers will be an essential ingredient of a successful disposal. An overly anxious approach or one which is clouded by fear of loss, will, in all likelihood, result in a less-effective disposal.
- As a form of “insurance” it is better to have agreed with beneficiaries or colleagues a suitable means of disposal earlier rather than later. The general plan of disposal should be reviewed every few years, having particular regard for the direction the collection has taken and the level of investment involved.
- Comprehensive records of purchases, sources, guarantees and specialised items – perhaps computerised – should be kept and should assume that the eventual reader is not expert. There are several computer programmes that are designed for this