In Depth

Stamp collecting: which ones are the most valuable?

Royal Mail unveils new James Bond stamp collection

Royal Mail has unveiled a new set of stamps to celebrate the release of the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die.

A total of ten new stamps will be released ahead of the movie’s arrival in April.

The “action-packed” collection will feature all six Bond actors, with designs showing: Sean Connery in Goldfinger, George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore in Live and Let Die, Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye and Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.

The other four stamp designs will feature some of Bond’s famous cars and gadgets, including the Aston Martin DB5, the jetpack from Thunderball, the Lotus submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me and the autogyro from You Only Live Twice.

The stamps have “hidden features revealed under UV light”, says Royal Mail, which invites fans to “delve into Bond’s world with images and stories exploring his key relationships”.

They will be available for general purchase from 17 March and cost £12.20 for the full set of ten.

But if you like your stamps a little more limited - and valuable - take a look below.

What makes a stamp collection valuable?

According to the Philatelic Traders Society (PTS), stamps are likely to have value if they were issued before 1960 and include higher face values, generally above one shilling in British "old" money. They should be in good condition, with no damage or portions missing, and arranged neatly in albums without being stuck to the page or showing faded colours.

Commemorative stamp collections, such as for a royal wedding, birth or anniversary are actually less likely to hold value.

“British Penny Blacks are famous, but unfortunately are neither fabulously valuable, nor rare,” says the PTS. A total of 68 million were produced and sold, and are generally worth around £50 to £100 each. Unused Penny Blacks in top condition, however, have been known to fetch around £2,500.

PTS adds that stamps with “genuine errors of production”, such as missing colours, are often worth considerably more than “normal” issues.

How can I sell my collection?

Stamps can be sold in an auction or directly to a dealer. Philatelists could also sell their collection themselves on online marketplaces such as eBay. Some auctioneers offer free valuations and hold regional roadshows around the country.

What are the most valuable stamps in the world?

“The rarest and most valuable stamp in the world is the British Guiana 1c Magenta,” says online auction platform Catawiki. Last sold in 2014 in New York for $9.5m (£7.1m), it was created in limited numbers when a delivery of stamps from London to British Guiana was delayed in 1856. “Both the symbolic colony’s Latin motto and the fact that there is only one known to exist makes this stamp a real rarity,” says the auction site.

A Swedish stamp misprinted in 1855, called the Treskilling Yellow, is believed to be the second most expensive postage stamp. It was sold in 1996 for around $2.3m (£1.7m), a world record at the time, and has been sold on twice since then in private deals.

In third place, are the first Mauritius stamps, issued in 1847 and believed to be the first British Commonwealth stamps produced outside of Britain. Only 26 copies are known to still exist and each holds a value of nearly £900,000.

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