We all have questions about our stamps. We also have questions about buying and selling, as the Internet has made many changes to collecting, with perhaps the most drastic being that a stamp collector can turn into a dealer with the ease of a few clicks of the mouse.
Pre-Internet there was a steep slope to becoming even a simple kitchen table dealer. Gas mileage and shoe leather were eaten up in going to stamp shows to make purchases. This was, of course after cozying up to stamp dealers who would eventually give you their best prices to make your reselling worthwhile. Buying stamps through philatelic press ads wasn't really an option as most were set prices with no wiggle room for getting the items for near wholesale prices.
An aside: Stamp collecting is often about the deal. The vast majority of stamp dealers will work with you -- more than perhaps in any other area of life where buy-sell is at the center of business (theirs) and pleasure (yours). If you can establish yourself as an honest and decent buyer of stamps you will find you have much leeway in purchasing stamps with financing and layaway options for you to add pricey stamps to your collection.
Starting Out as a Part Time Stamp Dealer
Those who had significant stamp collections were ahead of the game, as they could pull the best items out and put them in their price lists and ads. But a constant obstacle was cost -- there were no chatrooms, blogs, cyber bulletin boards where one might get exposure to collectors for no cost. And as collectors didn't consult computer screens for information and offers, printing and mailing were necessary -- and expensive -- evils.
Stamp clubs were important for the burgeoning dealer to make connections. It is still true that many stamp clubs hold auctions of material put up by members that one may buy at attractive prices. Although it is hoped that the bargain stamp items you acquire in these sales will go into your collection, no one will black blot you if you decide to resell it for a modest profit. In active stamp collecting turnover is a natural thing, keeping the hobby vital and always moving.
A look at the various stamp publications will show you many ads where dealers place "Wanted to Buy" ads. After all, the successful stamp dealer must always replenish his stock and one of his prime sources is collectors like you who are interested in selling part or all of their existing collections.
Establish Relationships with Stamp Dealers
For the new stamp dealer acquiring the stamps was merely the first step in becoming a stamp dealer. There was a long road of learning about your stamps, using catalogs, either general or specialty, reading periodicals regularly to keep up with trends, and perhaps most importantly joining any stamp club that specialized in the type of material you wanted to sell, both to learn and to expose your wares to interested collectors, while also getting word of mouth started about your presence in the philatelic world.
Establishing a relationship with one or more stamp dealers is vital to your success. As mentioned above, material is constantly being traded. The knowledgeable collector may know the material very well, but he lacks an important thing that the dealer has -- contacts within the stamp trade. When a stamp dealer gives his recommendation to another stamp dealer for you, your foot is in the door.
But then there is still much learning to take place and where once it was necessary to pick the brains of existing dealers -- a time consuming pursuit at best -- there is now a vast amount of information online that you can access without inconveniencing others. And as getting philatelic knowledge can happen with lightning speed on the Internet a great barrier to new dealers has been done away with.
Once it took up hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to become the most basic of dealers who might issue a monthly price list/newsletter, take out small ads in the philatelic press, and attend any sizable stamp show within traveling distance. Now a rudimentary knowledge of social media and the infrastructure of the philatelic world online can start a knowledgeable collector on the path of stamp dealing, an activity not so different from collecting and in some ways even more satisfying.