Stamp Auctions, Stamp Dealers, Online Auctions - so many options to sell stamps...so how do you know where to begin?
One useful framework is to consider each sales path individually and see if it makes sense for you because each method has its own set of pros and cons.
I've tried all of the methods below and have learned that each have their place and time. Your own situation may make one method better for you not just based on the quality of stamps you have but also what is most important to you : the sale price, how quickly you receive your money, or your time.
I know its a pretty generic conclusion but, really, that says it all.
Do you value your time?
Online Auctions suck up the hours with pictures/scans, writing online auction descriptions, formatting the listing, packaging and shipping, answering questions, and on and on. That time drain is magnified if you're new to ebay.
Do you value how much you're paid?
If so, the no limit online auctions, such as eBay and bidStart, may be a scary proposition as there is a chance you'll receive a fraction of the true value. Auction fees combined with short auctions can be a double whammy and leave you regretting ever listing the stamp in the first place.
On the positive side, you'll receive your money quickly and there is always the chance that two excited bidders will push your stamps up to above market prices.
Do you value how soon you receive your money?
Then a stamp auction house may not be right for you. Consider this - you give them stamps on consignment which, hopefully, get processed before their upcoming auction catalog has gone to print. In that best case you wait only a month or so before the auction is held.
Once the stamp auction is completed you may have to wait for payment for anywhere from a few weeks to months to allow time buffers for returns and late paying buyers. It can take a few months to get paid and, in the worst case scenario of a return or unsold item, then it can take the better part of a year...I've learned that one the hard way.
But on the positive side, auctions require little effort from you and are the best way to gain access to the highest net worth collectors so are perfect for high value single stamps and extensive collections.
All methods have their pros and cons. It really is about assessing your own situation and what is best for you. If you just want to get rid of of a stamp collection to get it out of the house, and this is frequently the case with inherited collections, it is probably best to take them to a stamp dealer unless it is a very high end collection in which case a stamp auction may be best.
However, there is a lot of fun to be had and even business potential if you want to take a crack at selling them directly to stamp collectors through online auctions or other creative methods.
Think swap markets, yard sales, consignment shops, antique stores...pretty much anywhere you can find people that like art, history and the thrill of the hunt is a place you can sell stamps!