When I was a kid, Mom bought me a stamp collecting book at some garage sale. It was this great big thing, two volumes, with stamps from all over the
world. There was this company which sold updates to it (Harris, maybe?). Anyway, I got into it for a little while, but soon learned that most of the
international stamps weren't really worth anything. So it was kind of futile. US stamps interested me more (this was in the 70's).
At the same time, Mom's best friend started collecting US stamps, and over time became very interested in the hobby. She didn't have children, so I
was always 'the son she never had' and she'd mentor me. While I collected mostly used stamps, she collected mint stamps. Over time her skills and
her collection improved (as did her collecting style). She got to where she would get full rolls of all newly issued coil stamps and whole sheets of
every new stamp. Every one issued. Over time she developed a relationship with a local postmaster who was also a stamp collector who would notify
her whenever a new stamp was to be issued. She also got into collecting what were known as "First Day covers" (which goes beyond the scope of this
post). Soon she had relationships with some very well known stamp collecting houses. By the time I was in high school, I'd pretty much lost interest
in my meager / worthless collection.
Over the years she began to go backwards in time with her collection, buying older stamps (also mint). During this time she also got into collecting
Japanese stamps as well (exquisite and valuable also). This went on for forty+ years. In the late 90's with the advent of the self-adhesive stamps
she began to lose interest and eventually gave it up. But here's the thing...
The collection she amassed during her time collecting amounts to essentially every single US stamp ever minted dating all the way back to July 1,
1847...all mint, up to the point where she quit (roughly '99)! (WOW...I know!). July 1847 was the very first official US national stamp. Her
collection is MAGNIFICENT! There is only one stamp missing, and technically it's not "missing", it was a misprint, and this is the mythical and
legendary May 10th, 1918 .24 cent stamp known as the "inverted Jenny" (or "Upside Down Jenny"). (Only one is known to exist, of the 100 printed).
She has the correct Jenny, but not the misprint.
As I've noted, her collection is absolutely STAGGERING! To me, it borders on mind-blowing! All of the stamps are kept in UV resistant glass-line
holders in this exotic album. The album is now kept in a bank vault, rarely ever to be seen.
My question is this...what is the approximate worth of such a collection? Her husband has long since passed away. Some relatives will eventually
have to part with it in order to ensure her care is paid for. I completely understand they will have to have it officially appraised by a
professional, but I'm just trying to get an idea of even how to even begin discussions, and with whom. They don't know if they should start with
attorneys (and armed guards), or if they should even attempt to move the item from its storage to show it to anyone.
Can anyone hazard a guess as to the value?
P.S. There's one more thing; she's very tight lipped about her collection with anyone but myself. Apparently, over the decades I was the only one
who ever visited her regularly and showed interest. Now her distant family is VERY interested in this collection. I'm not sure what she's got in
mind, but there is a distant possibility I might be in for a surprise (although I could never accept such a thing, given the choice).
edit on 8/21/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)