Forever Stamp Value 2023 (Most Expensive Lot Sold For Over $12,000!)

In 2007, the United States Postal Service (USPS) unveiled the first forever stamp, ushering in a new era of convenience and predictability for postal customers. These innovative stamps don‘t bear a printed denomination and remain perpetually valid for mailing one-ounce First-Class letters, regardless of future rate hikes.

Forever stamps eliminated the annoying need for consumers to buy 1 or 2 cent stamps every time postal rates ticked up. They also reduced USPS administrative costs by minimizing the need to print and issue small denomination stamps.

In the 15+ years since forever stamps hit the scene, they‘ve become a staple for postal customers, with USPS expanding the concept to postcard stamps, additional ounce stamps, and other mail classes. At the same time, these undenominated stamps have emerged as an attractive, alternative investment vehicle given their steady trajectory of price appreciation.

In this definitive 2023 guide, we‘ll unpack everything you need to know about forever stamp values, from current pricing to historical performance to little-known resale opportunities. Whether you‘re stocking up for your mailing needs, exploring stamps as a collectible investment, or looking to offload unwanted forever stamps, we‘ve got you covered. Let‘s dive in!

Forever Stamp Value Breakdown: 2007 to 2023

As of July 10, 2022, a single forever stamp carries a value of $0.60, equating to the current First-Class Mail letter rate (up to 1 ounce). This means any forever stamps purchased for less than $0.60 in the past have automatically incremented up to the current 60-cent valuation.

To put this value progression in perspective, here‘s a table showcasing how forever stamp prices have marched higher since their 2007 debut:

Date Stamp Value Increase
April 12, 2007 $0.41
May 12, 2008 $0.42 +$0.01
May 11, 2009 $0.44 +$0.02
January 22, 2012 $0.45 +$0.01
January 27, 2013 $0.46 +$0.01
January 26, 2014 $0.49 +$0.03
January 17, 2016 $0.47 -$0.02
January 22, 2017 $0.49 +$0.02
January 21, 2018 $0.50 +$0.01
January 27, 2019 $0.55 +$0.05
August 29, 2021 $0.58 +$0.03
July 10, 2022 $0.60 +$0.02

As this data illustrates, forever stamps have realized a 46.3% price appreciation since 2007, translating to an impressive annualized return of 3.1%. This performance stacks up favorably against traditional investments like bonds and exceeds inflation over the period.

The largest one-time price hike occurred in 2019 when forever stamps jumped 5 cents from $0.50 to $0.55, a 10% increase. The only other instance of a greater than 2-cent bump was 2014‘s 3-cent surge to $0.49.

Interestingly, forever stamp prices actually dropped by 2 cents in 2016, marking their only year-over-year decline. However, this dip was short-lived as rates resumed climbing in 2017 and haven‘t looked back.

The overarching trend is clear: forever stamp values have grown consistently since their inception, at a pace that meets or exceeds key economic indicators. Even brief declines have quickly corrected to the upside.

With postal rates continuing to rise with inflation, forever stamps purchased today at $0.60 will likely be worth even more in the future. In fact, Stamp Collecting Experts anticipates the next forever rate increase could hit as early as January 2023, potentially bringing the forever stamp price to $0.63 based on Consumer Price Index trends.

How to Calculate Postage Using Forever Stamps

While a single forever stamp covers the First-Class postage for mail pieces weighing up to one ounce, additional forever stamps can be applied to send heavier items. Currently, each extra ounce up to 3.5 ounces incurs a $0.20 charge. Beyond 3.5 ounces, First-Class Mail converts to "Flats" pricing.

Here‘s a simple formula to determine the number of forever stamps needed for mailing items over one ounce:

Forever Stamps Required = Ceiling(Total Postage ÷ Current Forever Stamp Value)

For example, let‘s say you‘re sending a standard envelope weighing 2.1 ounces. The total postage would be:

$0.60 (first ounce) + $0.20 (second ounce) + $0.20 (third ounce) = $1.00

At the current forever stamp value of $0.60, you would need two forever stamps ($1.20) to cover the $1.00 postage cost (since using a single stamp would be insufficient).

Keep in mind that using forever stamps for mail classes other than First-Class letters may result in overpayment. For instance, a forever stamp on a 4" x 6" postcard ($0.44) would be 16 cents more than the required postcard rate. Similarly, affixing a forever stamp to a 1 oz. Media Mail piece ($3.19) would grossly overpay considering Media Mail‘s heavily discounted pricing.

So while forever stamps offer flexibility to be used on virtually any domestic mail piece, it‘s typically most cost-effective to deploy them as intended for one ounce First-Class letters and utilize class-specific stamps for other categories.

Where to Buy Forever Stamps Below Face Value

Although forever stamps are widely available from USPS locations, postal kiosks, and major retailers like Walmart and Walgreens, finding them below their $0.60 face value takes some bargain hunting. Here are a few of the best sources for scoring discounted forever stamps in 2023:

  • Costco: This wholesale giant sells forever stamps in bundles of 100 at a 20% discount, bringing the per stamp cost to just $0.48. A Costco membership is required to purchase.

  • eBay: Forever stamp deals abound on eBay from individual resellers, often in the form of unused rolls or sheets. Prices fluctuate frequently but generally fall in the $0.50-$0.55 range per stamp. Exercise caution to ensure you‘re getting genuine USPS forever stamps and not knockoffs.

  • Amazon: While not as deeply discounted as Costco, Amazon frequently runs promotions for 5% to 10% off forever stamps in sheets and rolls. Selection may be limited and prices change often, so check back frequently for the best rates.

  • Stamps.com: If you sign up for a Stamps.com account, you‘ll receive a free roll of 100 forever stamps (a $60 value) and a free postal scale. Just be aware that Stamps.com does charge a monthly subscription fee after the initial trial period.

  • Newspapers: Some newspapers and mailers partner with Valassis to offer inserts with forever stamps slightly below face value ($0.55-$0.58 per stamp). The catch is you‘ll need to send payment by mail to claim the deal. Larger newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle run such promos periodically.

While finding forever stamps for under the current $0.60 denomination takes some research, the savings can add up quickly especially if you‘re an active mailer. Even small discounts of 5-10% off face value provide worthwhile cost savings on larger forever stamp purchases.

The Most Valuable and Collectible Forever Stamps

In addition to their postage utility, forever stamps present a unique opportunity for collectors. Because forever stamps are issued in limited runs and appreciate in lockstep with postal rates, pristine examples can spike in value when supply dwindles.

Collectors prize forever stamps featuring uncommon designs, printing errors, or unique production features. For instance, the Inverted Jenny forever stamp from 2013, which replicated a classic stamp error showing the aircraft upside down, originally sold for $2 but routinely commands $50+ on the secondary market.

Another coveted collectible is the 2013 Patriotic Spiral forever stamp, a striking red, white, and blue design only issued briefly to post offices. The Patriotic Spiral consistently ranks among the scarcest modern U.S. stamps and fetches $8-$10 from collectors.

Designs with an embellished texture also tend to appreciate, such as the 2017 "Have a Ball!" stamps incorporating a special coating mimicking the feel of sports balls. Other popular collectible themes include space, cultural icons, and military/veterans.

Misprints can send values soaring, like the Statue of Liberty forever stamps accidentally showing the Las Vegas replica instead of the genuine article. Only 400 examples are thought to exist, with prices topping $100 per stamp in the few recorded sales.

Of course, the most valuable forever stamps are exceedingly rare, like a 2022 collection of over 2,000 mint condition forever stamps spanning dozens of designs. Housed in a handsome leather album, this superlative forever stamp lot realized $12,650 at a Siegel auction.

Whether you stumble on a single forever stamp with a unique error or inherit sheets of uncommon designs, there‘s an active market for forever stamp rarities. Auction houses like Siegel, Harmer-Schau, and Cherrystone routinely feature sought-after modern material, while online marketplaces like eBay and HipStamp also see brisk sales.

Condition is paramount for maximizing forever stamp valuations. Stamps still affixed to their original backing paper or in sealed packaging are most desirable. Avoid examples with fading, creasing, perforation separations or paper thinning.

If you have forever stamps that may carry collectible interest, consider reaching out to a stamp authentication service like PSAG for a formal grade. A high grade from a respected third party can significantly boost the stamp‘s market value.

Savvy Strategies for Buying and Selling Forever Stamps

With forever stamp prices steadily climbing and certain designs carrying collectible premiums, there‘s never been a better time to be a strategic forever stamp buyer or seller. Here‘s some expert guidance for whichever side of the transaction you fall on.

For everyday discount seekers, stocking up on forever stamps just ahead of price hikes can be an easy way to lock in savings. USPS typically gives several months‘ notice before rate changes, so monitor official announcements and snap up a stash of forever stamps at the lower rate while you can. Aim to purchase stamps with classic rather than trendy designs to maximize long-term usability and potential resale value.

If you‘re pursuing forever stamps as an investment vehicle, research is vital to identifying undervalued designs with appreciation potential. Stamps with production quirks, like the 2011 Statue of Liberty error, often aren‘t widely publicized until months or years later. Regularly viewing major auction results and analyzing pricing trends can reveal opportunities to scoop up a sleeve of future philatelic gold.

When it comes time to sell forever stamps, the right venue is key. For bulk quantities of generally common forever stamps, you may opt to sell below face value to a stamp wholesaler who can lot them out to individual buyers. For higher-end collectible stamps, consider consigning to a well-established philatelic auction house to reach the widest collector audience. If you prefer to go the direct sale route, look to online marketplaces that cater to stamp collectors and have active forever stamp listings, such as eBay and HipStamp.

Regardless of selling method, always strive for transparency in your descriptions. Note any flaws or deviations from pristine condition and provide detailed photos of the stamps. For uncommonly high-value forever stamps or errors, having the stamp professionally authenticated can give prospective buyers added purchase confidence.

Finally, approach forever stamp investing with a balanced perspective. While a 20 to 30-year time horizon will likely translate to very healthy appreciation for forever stamps, there‘s always the possibility of unforeseen changes to the stamp program or USPS itself (like its current financial distress). Collecting forever stamps should be viewed as a supplemental investment opportunity, not a substitute for traditional blue-chip stocks and bonds.

Key Takeaways for Forever Stamp Collectors

As we‘ve seen, forever stamps aren‘t just a consumer convenience or a tool for dodging looming postal increases. They‘re a robust, surprisingly lucrative alternative asset that handily beats inflation.

Since launching with a humble 41-cent valuation in 2007, the USPS forever stamp has notched an impressive 3.1% annualized growth rate, or a total gain of over 46%. That‘s a remarkable return for a government-issued postage product available at virtually every supermarket in the country.

The secret is forever stamps‘ built-in pricing power. As inflation inevitably drives mail costs higher, forever stamps‘ value floats in lockstep, tacking on cents at a time to the stamps in circulation. So even if you loaded up years ago, your forever stamps are always worth the current postal rate.

In addition to postage utility, select forever stamp designs can fetch substantial premiums on the collector market. Unusual printings, production mistakes, and scarce themes are perpetually in demand from philatelists, and values can skyrocket as availability wanes. The seismic $12,650 auction price for a lot of over 2,000 pristine modern forever stamps dramatically underscores the latent resale potential.

But while headline-grabbing auction results generate buzz, even ordinary unused forever stamps can present compelling investment opportunities. By purchasing stamp lots at a discount to face value during promotional sales or targeting designs poised for a spike in collector interest, forever stamp speculators can reap handsome profits on eventual resale.

However you choose to engage with forever stamps, it‘s clear these humble postage products are anything but static in value. As living, breathing alternative investments, they reward long-term holding periods and keen perception of emerging trends. So next time you pick up a sheet at the grocery store, don‘t just look at the pretty pictures – marvel at the impressive financial instrument in your hands!

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