Notes from the Past

What is a Collection Worth?

At lunch today a man asked me what a collection is worth.  That's almost like asking, "How long is a piece of string?"  To get an answer that has meaning you must refer to a specific collection or piece of string.

There are two values to any collection:  what it is worth to the owner and what it will bring when sold in the marketplace.  An owner's value includes such things as cost, sentimental attachment, continued interest in the collection and other matter important only to the particular owner.

The market value cannot reflect any of these things.  It has to be based on an unemotional, realistic decision:  "What will a collector pay for it?"  Merchants, to exist, need a profit over and above cost of goods and overhead.  While some operate on a closer margin than others, philately is a business with a high labor factor.  It is rare that the total markup needed is less than a department store requires.  Therefore, you must assume that, for your collection, the value it has to you as an active collector will not be the value to others when it is offered for sale.

- Earl P. L. Apfelbaum
The Best of Apfelbaum's Corner
Dorrance and Co., 1983
Posted August 2, 2000

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