(Bulk Stamps for Charity)
Charity Stamp Collecting Frequently Asked Questions      "Charity Stamps Direct" service.         List of some charities willing to accept stamps.
Many charities collect stamps as a method of raising funds. This article is intended to give guidance to charities, whether new to stamps as a fund-raiser, or “old hands”.
The principle of collecting stamps as a method of raising money is simply bulk. Generally speaking, unless you can get big quantities, it is not worth bothering. Also, if a charity has to pay for paid staff time (rather than voluntary), this would probably negate any financial benefit. We buy kiloware in quantities from numerous different charities – we store some for later sale, we mix material from different sources, and we sell in retail and wholesale quantities at home and overseas. Our profitable business depends on the maximum throughput of kiloware with the minimum effort !
PRESENTATION; presentation can make quite a big difference to the price obtained for the same material. Following these guidelines will help you to maximise your income.
1. Stamps should normally be left on their backing paper, with a border of about 4mm to 8mm left around the stamp.
2. Stamps should not have excess paper left on them. Excess paper means anything more than the 4-8mm, or “double weight” (which is where the front and back of the envelope are present).
3. A very little excess paper will possibly not be noticed by us or our customers, and shouldn’t change our views. An odd bit of excess paper is usually acceptable, but will slightly reduce the price per kilo that we would pay. Too much excess paper will mean that we may refuse to purchase the entire lot. (A test for “too much” would be to turn over handfuls of stamps. If you see some excess in every handful, then you probably have too much.)
4. Kiloware should be presented in decent quantities. Generally speaking, most charities find that a bin-sack of UK, or a carrier bag of foreign, is a worthwhile minimum quantity to sell.
5. Taking stamps out of lots of little packets and envelopes takes us extra time, which will reduce your price. Kiloware should therefore be presented in as big a mass as possible (for example a bin-sack should be filled with stamps, not with the stamps inside tied up in carrier bags).
SORTING; different charities take different approaches to this, largely dependant on the availability of willing and/or interested helpers.
Level 1 is to leave everything unsorted, in which case the only preparation required is for somebody to skim over the stamps to remove them from packets/bags, and to remove any excess paper.
Level 2 can have a financial benefit over the last, which is to sort into just two categories. {A} United Kingdom stamps (of all types and ages), and {B} foreign (all foreign countries including Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Jersey).
Level 3 can sometimes squeeze out some more value, but also involves the most work. We wouldn't advise doing this without speaking to us first. The categories for sorting to this level would be as follows;
 {A} U.K. definitive stamps (all denominations including high values, and including Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish) [DEFINITION a “definitive” is any stamp on long-term general sale. This includes all of the small-size stamps either with the Queen’s head or with the various national emblems.] [BEWARE of the Castles high denomination stamps which started to go off-sale in 1999 – these are definitives, even though they are large size]
 {B} U.K. special issues (commemoratives, special issues, and greetings stamps, but excluding Christmas issues) [BEWARE of the Christmas issues which were part of the Millennium series – they look like most of the other Millennium stamps, but have religious subjects]
 {C} U.K. Christmas issues.
 {D} U.K. pre-decimal issues, being anything with denomination in shillings and old pence. [BEWARE of stamps which have been used on receipts. These will normally have rubber stamps over them, or signatures. A very small number in the mix is ok, but larger percentages should be separated.]
 {E} Foreign (any stamps issued by post offices other than the UK). Guernsey, Alderney, Jersey, and the Isle of Man are counted as being foreign. Note that if you happen to have a good source for one particular country, it can often be worthwhile to present that country separately (but only if you can present, say, 50g to 100g minimum each time you sell).
 {F} U.K. off-paper stamps (which have already been removed from their backing paper. Note that soaking stamps off their paper will not normally increase the price you will get).
 {G} Foreign off-paper stamps (if already off-paper)
 {H} Funnies. Things like stamps off receipts, Scout Post labels, advertising stamps, etc.
Note that there is no need to sort stamps by issue or value within the listed categories – doing so will in fact reduce the price, as we have to remix them. Note also that very small quantities of any one category are best kept until you have a worthwhile quantity.
PICKING; some charities have helpers who are under the illusion that if they pick out any stamps that they think are better, and that they can sell separately, they will surely benefit the charity. Yes, it is true that such pickings may bring some alternative income, but it will do so to the detriment of the remainder of the mix. We see tons of stamps every year, and we have a very good idea of what a “normal mix” looks like. If the mix is less interesting and less useful to collectors, we will pay a lower price per kilo. If we are offered a mix which we can identify as being picked (and there are certain markers we can identify) we may well refuse outright to buy the whole lot.
PRICES; it is not possible to quote normal prices, as the quality and presentation of mixes vary greatly. However, we can give you some indication of average prices for some of the main categories, but remember that any average is made up of higher and lower prices.
Foreign is usually a good earner, often getting £12 to £15 per kilo. Poorer mixes can sometimes be as low as £4 to £6 per kilo (where, for example, there are larger numbers of countries like USA, Spain, France, Italy, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Canada, etc., or many stamps on postcard backings). On the other hand, higher grade mixes can easily get £20+ per kilo (where there are high numbers of stamps from smaller or less often seen countries, or when they are on neatly cut thin airmail paper).
United Kingdom general (all types together) gets an average of about £6 per kilo, sometimes a bit more.
U.K. special issues tend to be about £20 per kilo, with prices going higher if numbers of higher denominations are seen, lower if they are not, or if any Christmas are included in error.
U.K. definitives and Christmas are quite cheap, usually getting about £1.75 to £2.25 per kilo. These are hardly worth the effort of collecting and checking, but if you get them anyway while collecting the better categories you are better to sell them than to bin them !  The lowest prices are for the standard 1st/2nd class Queen’s head types, and the National small pictorial definitives.
“BETTER ITEMS”; if you ever get anything donated which is, or may be, better than the average, we are happy to look for you, advise, and if suitable buy. At worst, things can just get put into the general mix if they turn out to be nothing special.
UNFRANKED STAMPS; some people pick out those stamps which have not been postmarked, with the intention of re-using them. We should remind charities that the use of such stamps is a criminal offence, and in recent years the Post Office has pursued successful prosecutions against a number of people. Also be aware that the absence of unfranked stamps alerts us to the fact that the mixture has been picked over ! [See this link for further information.]

OTHER WAYS OF MAKING MONEY; we also buy the following regularly from charity sources;
Postcards; postcards of all ages, UK or foreign, used or unused. If you get any older postcards (up to about the 1950s, certainly before the 1920s), these can be sorted separately.
Coins; we buy coins of all types. It is not necessary to sort them in any way beforehand (in fact we would rather be faced by a mound of loose unsorted coins than by a box of coins all neatly wrapped and labelled, which just takes lots of time to look at). There is much nonsense said about the old Eurozone legacy currencies being invalidated. We are still happy to purchase them (and banknotes) - some are redeemable, others are simply scrap. More information at
IDEAS; {A} Encourage your charity’s supporters to use special issue stamps whenever possible (ask for them specially at your post office). It may not help your own charity directly, but if everybody did it, all charities would benefit. {B} Encourage any sources of foreign stamps. Have a think about any local organisations or businesses which would be likely to be recipients of quantities of foreign mail. {C} If any of your supporters regularly visit friends or businesses abroad, ask the foreign contact to save for you (they probably wouldn’t be worth posting, but are a great source if they can be collected). {D} Keep pressure on your post office to use actual stamps on packages rather than those sticky white print-out labels.

© Robert Murray, 2001 to 2018.

Robert Murray Stamp Shop
5 & 6 Inverleith Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 5PU
Tel 0131 552 1220  or  0131 478 7021 or UK local rate 0845 0500 886     Email [email protected]     Website