Money

Have Any Old Stamps? This One Could Be Worth $325,000

Do you have a box of old letters? We don’t mean your own personal mementos, but really old ones that may have been passed down from your grandparents. If so, you should definitely take a closer look at the stamps on them — especially if they ever got mail from Hawaii. They could be worth big money!

Known as the Hawaiian Missionary Stamps, they date back to 1851 (about 100 years before the islands became a state). They have a distinct blue hue and are much sought-after by collectors who are willing to pay a very pretty penny for them. 

You can see what they look like in the right hand corner of this letter:

Old letter with Hawaiian Blue Missionary stamps
Wikimedia Commons

Of course, like coins worth money, the value for any of these stamps will depend on the quality and how well it has held up over the years. 

Siegel Auction Galleries lists a couple used Hawaiian Missionary Stamps that have sold over the years: One they describe as the “finest used example” sold for $125,000 in 1995. Another slightly less-pristine stamp went for $95,000 the year after that.  

If you’re exceptionally lucky, you may have stumbled upon one of these stamps that never got stuck to a letter. The auction company lists the highest amount for one of these unused versions selling for a whopping $325,000! 

According to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, as the name implies, these stamps were most often used by Christian missionaries who traveled to Hawaii and wanted to stay in touch with the folks back home. They were only produced between 1851 and 1852 which is obviously another reason they’re so valuable. 

Even if you don’t have one of these blue beauties hiding among your collectibles and keepsakes, there’s still a chance you can find some postage worth a few extra bucks. Jay Bigalke, editor-in-chief of Linn’s Stamp News, shared an example in a recent issue of our print magazine (buy on news stands now or on Amazon, $59.60 for a year’s subscription).

“A mint sheet of wedding-themed designs — such as forever stamps featuring tulips from a few years ago — is often worth three times its face value,” Bigalke explains. “I remember a book of botanical stamps from 2016 that cost $9.80 — the catalog value is $30 today. If you have an unused book of these in a drawer, they may be worth more than you think.” It might not be thousands of dollars, but that’s still not too shabby.

Whether you have a pile of old letters or a stack of stamps you haven’t touched in a few years, it’s definitely a good idea to give them a second look!

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