For many years I’ve sent mine, clipped from envelopes and cards, to the Starfleet Stampede in Richmond, Va. The Stampede donated them to a charity, which in turn sold them to stamp dealers. But my most recent envelope to the Stampede was returned as undeliverable, and my contact there hasn’t responded to two emails since.
According to a friend who’s been an active stamp dealer & officer in stamp clubs, the whole stamp collecting hobby is dying out. Almost all current collectors are old men, with hardly any new, younger people taking up the hobby.
If that’s so, it would seem that charities selling donated stamps would be directing their energies elsewhere, too.
Get in touch with Mark Morrow here. I worked with Mark on a community survey for his home town some years back, and know him to be One of the Good Guys. Note that he is a buyer for one of those companies that buy and resell stamps; I’m thinking that he would know what charities continue to do what you wish to contribute to, as one of the handful of guys who buys from them.
Is this really a viable way to raise money for charity? Rather than clip 100 stamps, I would just send them a dollar. And what do collectors do with 100 stamps that mostly represent a few types, which they presumably get in their own mail anyway? Hoarders of a sort?
The common name used for such used stamps is “kiloware.” There’s an international market in it, so presumably a lot of it gets shipped overseas. Also, good dealers sort between definitive and commemorative stamps which cuts down on dupes. You’ll still get a bunch, of course, but the stamps are so cheap that you probably won’t really care.
At least here in Germany, it’s very important for two big charities, Bethel (link in German)(North) and Herzogsägmühle (link in German)(South), because they employ dozens of handicapped persons in their stamp office: cutting out the stamps, soaking them in water (to get them from the envelope), drying, sorting them to worth using the Michl catalogue, and then packaging them according to worth (intl, theme, kilo etc.).
Bethel for example employs 25 people in their stamp dept.
English wiki links for Bethel (currently a stub) and the english opening page of Herzogsägmühle
Maybe some charities in the US also do this?
Aside: Herzogsägmühle also collects rests of candle wax to make new candles, again to employ handicapped people or people with psychic problems.
Thanks for the links, constanze! Bethel receives stamps from me about once or twice a year, but I didn’t know about Herzogsägmühle.
In the past I’ve also been sending stamps (and old coins/banknotes) to thatu, a small UK-based charity that resells them for fundraising.
I’m guessing that selling used stamps by bulk is probably an easy way for (especially smaller) charities to do a bit of additional fundraising because it doesn’t involve loads and loads of extra work, so I’ll keep saving my stamps for them as long as there’s still someone who can actually put them to good use.
Tubfrim here in Norway is still collecting used stamps as well as used phone cards. I used to see canisters with their name on sitting in public places, so people could just drop off the stamps; I don’t know if they’ve stopped that, or if my habits have changed and I’m just not going to the sorts of places that have the canisters any more.
Also, stamp collecting is not dying out. I just saw a Burt Wolfe program on PBS in which he was talking about stamp collecting. Apparently, in China, for example, it is a rapidly growing endeavor. I suggest the person who thinks it is a dying hobby should think globally.
For info on other charitable organizations seeking collectible postage stamps, see this web site: http://www.spotch.com/~robjen/philately/charities.shtml
NOTE: The info is 5 years old and some links to web sites (like the Stamps for the Wounded URL posted there) are no longer valid.
I get more collectible postage stamps from friends, who mail me ones they receive on U.S. mail. And, to those whom I still write via U.S. mail, I use commemorative postage stamps on the envelopes and ask that they mail them back to me, using another commemorative stamp.
Don’t know about the US market, but in Germany, the stamp market has changed quite a lot in the last decade or so. Businesses used sometimes odd postage (33 Euro cent) because of reduced rates for postage, but most business mail is metered, so no stamps. Private people now often use StampIt, a software that lets you buy stamps over the internet. You get a computer-generated puzzle-block picture that you print onto your envelope (and which encodes not only the amount of postage, but also the address of the sender, which I find problematic). There are also postage machines that used to dispense fixed amounts of real stamps, but which now print any individual amount onto a few templates. So if you want real stamps, you have to go into a real post office*, but you can buy 10 stamps at once there.
Secondly, the German post office is interested in stamp collecting (after all, they earn money from printing, but also offer a stamp collectors service where you get the new stamps every couple of month), so they roll out new stamps, both new motives in an ongoing series (the flower series, buildings, etc.) and new motives singly, every couple of months. The numbers are low, so they are quickly sold out when you come to late.
New ideas are sticky stamps which you don’t need to lick, and smelling stamps - you rub them and they smell faintly (mostly chemical, if you ask me).
I do specifiy now that I want “nice” or “real” stamps when I send packages at the post office, because otherwise, they’ll print a computer label.
*Super markets don’t sell stamps here. Some private branch post offices with reduced service have sprung up in Cafes or newspaper booths, but they don’t offer a lot of services.