Huge stamp collections that have been collected for many years with the greatest care and love: philately is a rewarding hobby. Until Grandpa dies. Then the family suddenly wonders what to do with those books full of special stamps. The Philatron stamp association from Elshout has an ‘inheritance committee’. Joop Heeren of that association supervises heirs with the collection. “Her husband said she could buy a second home from the stamp collection.”

    Written by

    Rob Bartolo

    But the reality is usually different, he says: “That collection wasn’t worth that much at all.” And he sees that happen more often: “Heirs often consider themselves rich.”

    The stamp association Philatron is knocked on with great regularity. “Then we are called to come and view a collection, because the children are often not interested in a collection that has been left behind,” says Heeren. “We then advise what the family can do with it.”

    “It regularly happens that relatives are disappointed with the value.”

    “It happens quite often that relatives are disappointed about the value of a stamp collection that has been left behind,” says Joop. “Misunderstandings often arise when someone has spent years and very meticulously writing down the catalog value of that stamp behind every stamp in an album.”

    Dead stamp collectors leave behind orphaned collections
    Dead stamp collectors leave behind orphaned collections

    “For a large collection they arrive at amounts of fifty or sixty thousand euros. But the real value of a stamp is only a fraction of its catalog value. It is then up to Heeren to help them out of that dream. “If heirs are in doubt about our advice, or this sobering message, I always say: try it with a trader.”

    “The proceeds were ‘only’ two thousand euros.”

    Very occasionally emotions run high with a bequeathed collection. “For example, a father of six left his stamp collection, but nobody was really interested in it. Until the man’s partner spoke highly of the value of the collection. Then there was some turbulence in the family. In the end, the collection was auctioned: the proceeds were ‘only’ two thousand euros. and it is divided among the heirs.”

    Joop Heeren is also an avid collector, with a collection of about two to two and a half million stamps. A connoisseur, therefore, but he does not go too far when assessing orphaned bequest collections. “I get a lot of support from a professional from Roermond, when in doubt I always consult and ask him to watch.”

    And sometimes there is something special in between. “If there are pieces in a bequest collection that are worth having, we offer them at professional auctions, also abroad. We sell the other stamps and collections through our own auction. We have a number of lots that we auction every month.”

    The proceeds then go to the heirs, minus the costs for the association and the auction. He is therefore certainly not a trader, emphasizes Heeren. “Our advice is free for members, but as an association we charge a small fee for heirs of collectors from outside the country.”

    Members' evening of stamp association Philatron Drunen/Elshout (Photo: Philatron)
    Members’ evening of stamp association Philatron Drunen/Elshout (Photo: Philatron)