Order Online - Select @home Approvals

What are stamp "approvals?"

The clue lies in the name. They are, simply put, stamps of which you approve. And you "approve" of them by looking at them and making up your own mind.

When you give us an outline of your collecting interests (click on the 'Order Approvals' button), we will prepare and send to you a selection of stamps based on, and matching, that outline. Pick what you want - return the rest. It's that easy.

Of the three services we offer (mixtures, approvals and auctions), the Select @home approvals sit right in the middle. There is no firm divide, of course; you can find 1d blacks in all 3 services, for example. The price structures of the three probably best give an outline of what you can expect; mixtures are £x for y thousands of stamps, the approvals are from 20p up to £50 (exceptionally up to £200+) per stamp, whilst the auction lots are from a pound or so each, up to many £1000s or £10,000s. With approvals you can find sets, odd values, top values, wmk varieties in all qualities, mint and used and priced to match.

There is no obligation to purchase anything (ever). A return envelope is provided and we pay all postage* costs. Selections are fully insured in transit. You can pay using your Visa or Mastercard (no extra) and bigger purchases (over £50) can be spread over 3 months if you wish (again, no extra). Selections can be sent as often (or as infrequently) as you choose - by return of post, once a month, once a year. It's all up to you.

Buying stamps "on approval" is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of building a collection. The Select @home Approvals service (we believe) is now the longest established in the UK and still under original ownership. Other services have been around longer in name, but they are trading under a change of ownership. (Indeed, the service now offered by one of our main competitors was started in the early 1970's by Rick himself!)

There is perhaps an association in some people's minds that stamp approvals mean nothing other than the cheaper, colourful and usually cancelled-to-order stamps that you might expect to find in a commercially manufactured packet of stamps or a juvenile collection. Approvals were once an ideal way of presenting such stamps for sale, it is true. Firms such as Broadway, Ace, DJ Hanson and many, many others in the 1950s and 1960s specialised in doing so. That none do so today (Broadway and Ace, for example, no longer trade, DJ Hanson has moved up-market) is witness both to the rather precipitous fall in demand, since the 1960s, for stamps of that type and today's much higher handling costs - higher, that is, pro rata to the retail selling values.

In fact, an approval selection today is more likely to offer a range of penny blacks than a range of penny pictorials. Or, most likely, a healthy array of single stamps and sets in the 20p to £50 price bracket. Nothing is ever out of stock; there is no possibility of misrepresenting condition. What you see is what you get; you buy the very item in front of you. If you prefer the fun of hunting down missing stamps, rather than simply filling in an order form, approvals are for you.

Stanley Gibbons, the world's oldest stamp firm, had a thriving approval business until relatively recently as did many other firms, household names up to the 1970s but most of them no longer trading: Errington and Martin, Harry Gaffen to name but two. Stamps were mounted in booklets; a satisfactory method when the books were new: not so good when the books had been out to a few customers and had started to look rather tatty. The Rick Warren service was one of the first to experiment with presenting stamps on hingeless stockcards (see sample illustration). Very popular with customers - especially customers who insist on u/m (never hinged mint) only - our system has been widely adopted by others.

We carry a huge range of material; we estimate around 1 million items, individually priced. That's the equivalent of 100,000 of the stockcards we have illustrated, or enough to supply you 1 selection per month for the next 700 years, without your ever having to see the same stamp twice! And that's without counting new stock, added daily. We break bigger lots, wholesale lots, entire and remaindered collections. We have processed entire dealers' stocks. We aim to spend over £2million in the next twelve months on new acquisitions. It won't all be turned into approval selections; but any of it might.

* Assumes a minimum average of purchase of £12 (UK) or £35 (elsewhere) from each selection.


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