I have no emotional attachment to the stamp collection I put together as a child nearly 60 years ago. I can barely remember being interested in the hobby.
But the prospect of one day turning the stamps into cash appealed, and, once an adult, I took care they followed whenever I moved house.
My three battered albums containing perhaps up to 200 stamps from around world surfaced recently during a bit of a clear out. Now seemed a good time to make good on the dream.
The website of philatelists Stanley Gibbons advertises consultations with its valuation experts at a refundable £20 if the stamps for consideration generate a sale.
I phoned for an appointment about a month ago and was warned that schoolchild collections were invariably valueless but I might expect a 20 to 30 minutes assay for my money.
I joked it would be worth 20 quid just to put my mind at rest should I decide to part company with the stamps.
This afternoon I went down to the London HQ of Stanley Gibbons in The Strand.
On the Tube I looked again – hopefully for the last time – at the stamps and wondered at the genius of the expert I would soon meet. Someone who could scrutinise elderly stamps from countries where many had since changed names - and make a snap judgement on their value.
In the event I was in and out inside five minutes during which time the stamps expert – who didn’t introduce himself – turned every page of the albums and concluded the stamps had no commercial value.
There was no mention of the £20. I’ve no reason to doubt his swift judgement; I had suspected the same myself in saner moments.
So you could say I saved 20 quid but on the other hand the fantasy I might own a philatelic goldmine withered in its first exposure to reality.
I wish I hadn’t bothered. What do I do with the albums now?