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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Mexico 1945 Peace Theater Reconstruction (Scott #801-04,C148-52)

In 1945, Mexico issued a compound set of stamps celebration the reconstruction of the Theater of Peace (Scott #801-04,C148-52). 15,000 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $51.65.

The set has appeal as an Art/Architecture topical.

With a population of about 109 million,  Mexico has a diverse and developing economy, but modernization remains a slow and uneven process. Current challenges include addressing income inequality, crime, corruption, upgrading the infrastructure, and reforming tax and labor laws. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 2% over the last five years, which takes into account a contraction of 6.5% in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Stamps of Mexico are popular among collectors in the U.S. as well as in Mexico, and those who wish to learn more about Mexican stamps should consider joining the Mexico Elmhurst Philatelic Society International (M.E.P.S.I.). MEPSI provides many useful services for collectors of Mexico, including expertizing Mexican stamps.

  "The Stamp Specialist" blog features buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. The buy list for Mexico includes the set recommended in this article. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Spain 1938 Battle of Lepanto Souvenir Sheets (Scott #B108M-B108N, B108O-B108P)

   In 1938, the Nationalist forces under General Francisco Franco were winning over the Republicans fighting the Spanish Civil War, and several semi-postal souvenir sheets were issued which emphasized the Nationalists' patriotism, and ties to the Catholic Church. Among these were four souvenir sheetsm each containing one stamp, commemorating the Battle of Lepanto, a decisive naval battle in which Spain and other states decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire. 45,000 sets of two perforated sheets and 5,000 sets of two imperforate versions were issued (Scott #B108M-B108N, B108O-B108P), and and Scott '14 prices them unused at $45.- ($77.50 for NH) and $800.- ($1,300.- for NH), respectively.

    The sheets should do well based on the growth of stamp collector demand in Spain, as well as among Religion, Military/Naval, and Ship topicalists. 

    I strongly favor all scarce and undervalued issues of Spain and its colonies. The nation has 46 million people, the 9th largest economy in the world, and the most rapidly aging population in Europe, a trend which favors the growth of stamp collecting. Spain was hit by the global financial crisis and its annual GDP growth has been flat for five years, though the economy is beginning to recover.

   Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.    





Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: South Korea 1955 Reconstruction Presentation Sheets (Michel Block 78-80, Scott 212Note))

   From 1948 to 1958, South Korea issued presentation sheets featuring the designs of its regular postage stamps. These ungummed, often crudely produced sheets were issued  in very low quantities and given to dignitaries, including friends of the President, as the country was not completely devoid of cronyism. The Michel catalog lists these sheets, but Scott does not, although it mentions them. They frequently sell at auction for between 10% and 20% of Michel, and I consider them grossly undervalued due to the uncertainty about their legitimacy. They were issued during a period of war and the gradual recovery from it, when the country was very poor, and they are as scarce as hen's teeth.

   In 1955, South Korea issued a set of three presentation sheets picturing symbols of industrial reconstruction (Michel Block 78-80, Scott 212Note). 1,000 sets were issued, and Michel prices it at 1,140.- Euros (about $ 1,500.-). I recommend purchase of the set if it offered at around $150 to $300 (10%-20% of Michel CV).

  A nation of about 50 million people, South Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Currently, it is the world's 13th largest economy and eighth largest exporter. It's export-fueled economic growth has led to a miraculous explosion in its GDP, from almost nothing 50 years ago to about $1 trillion today. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4% over the last 5 years, reflecting a slowdown in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, South Korea may be the most rapidly aging nation on earth, as its 65+ population is expected to more than quadruple from 9% in 2005 to 38% in 2050. Obviously, this could pose economic challenges for the country, but it will almost certainly add to its stamp collecting population.

    Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to check out the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.





Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Portuguese India 1957 Map Issue (Scott #552-59)



   The Indian stamp market continues to warm, although as yet it has not become as white-hot as China's, and there are still some areas which remain neglected.

   One such area is Portuguese India. Both the Portuguese and the French held some territory in India, while the British dominated the rest of it. Both of the lesser colonial powers in India issued stamps which are, for the most part, neglected by Indian collectors, and which have potential multiple market appeal in India, their home countries, and among collectors of European colonies. Interestingly, the Portuguese held out the longest of the three, and issued stamps for their colony until India seized it in 1961, ending the occupation. It isn't the only time that obsolescent imperial visions of grandeur have benefited philatelists.

   In 1957, Portugal issued a set of eight stamps for its colony, picturing a map of its territory in India (Scott #552-59). 50,000 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $11.75  .

   The set has multiple market appeal to collectors of Portuguese India, Portuguese Colonies, and India, as well as to Map Topicalists, a small but growing cohort.

  Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer.    

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Colombia 1954 St. Peter Clavier Souvenir Sheet (Scott #C258a)

  In 1954, Colombia issued a souvenir sheet honoring the 300th Anniversary of St. Peter Clavier's death (Scott #C258a). 10,000 sheets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused sheet at $8.00.

   The sheet has appeal as a Religion topical and an Art/Architecture topical. It is grossly undervalued.

A nation of 45 million people, Colombia has been plagued by decades of serious internal armed conflict, drug trafficking, corruption, and gross inequities of income, but has nevertheless racked up annual GDP growth averaging over 4% over the last 5 years. Moreover, until the global financial fiasco cut its GDP growth to 3% in 2009, it had been steadily accelerating, from 2% in 2003 to 8% in 2008. Recently, the government, armed to the teeth by the U.S., has applied a dual policy of combining military pressure with negotiations to cope with the various guerrilla factions within the country. This seems to have worked to some extent, as the number of insurgents has been halved, and the number of homicides and kidnappings drastically reduced. While some argue that the Colombian government is still utterly corrupt, and has violated human rights and supported paramilitary death squads in order to achieve relative peace, it may be that this is par for the course, given the nation's history. A dialogue between the Colombian government and guerrillas of the FARC-EP began in 2012 with the aim to find a political solution to the armed conflict. The Colombian government and rebel groups met in Cuba, and as of November 2013, the talks have been promising. The Government also began a process of assistance and reparation for victims of conflict.The main challenge that the country faces will be that of sharing more of the wealth with the majority of the population so as to develop more of a middle class and political center. Otherwise, it will devolve into a violent, unstable mess.

"The Stamp Specialist" blog features my buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've posted a buy list for Colombia. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep up with the vagaries of the stamp market.



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: New Hebrides (British) 1924 5p on 2 1/2p Inverted Surcharge (Scott #39a)


 New Hebrides, an island group in the South Pacific now forms the nation of Vanuatu. The colony was administered as a condominium, a rare form of colonial territory in which sovereignty was shared by two powers, in this case Britain and France. 

   The first British issues were Fiji Edward VII stamps overprinted for use on the islands. These were followed by the Native Idols stamps of 1911, some of which were surcharged over the next 13 years when certain denominations were in short supply.

   In 1924, three stamps were surcharged  (Scott #38-40 ;Scott '14 CV for unused = $ 17.50). The scarcest of the values was the 5p on 2 1/2p Ultramarine (#39), of which 20,820 were issued. While this set is worth considering,  there also exists a rare inverted surcharge (39a), which Scott '14 prices unused at $3,250.-. Quantities issued information is unavailable for this error, but I'm guessing that one or two sheets of 50 went through the overprinting machine upside-down. As with most rare overprinted issues, this stamp should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization.

    The Republic of Vanuatu has about 100,000 citizens, so I think it unlikely that a significant collector population will develop there. However, due to the former dual colonial administration, New Hebrides stamps appeal to both collectors of British Commonwealth and French Colonies.

Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.    




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Elobey, Annobon, and Corisco 1907 Alfonso XIII (Scott #39-54)


  Most of the early definitive sets of the various Spanish Colonies picturing King Alfonso XIII (as an infant, boy, or young man) are very scarce, and they are overlooked by the market because the colonies are often obscure and the sets are seldom seen. The condition of these sets is often far from ideal, and the stamps within frequently have rough perfs or poor centering. If found in F-VF+ LH condition and reasonably priced, they should be purchased and held as long-term investments.

  Such is the case with many of the sets of Elobey, Annobon, and Corisco, a group of islands administered by the Spanish which issued 60 postage stamps (all of which are good) between 1903 and 1910. The islands are now part of the nation of Equatorial Guinea.

   In 1905, the Spanish colonial administration of the islands issued a set of 16 stamps portraying Alfonso XIII (Scott #39-54). Only 2,500 of the 10p Rose high value were issued, and Scott '14  prices the unused set at $148.25 ($275.- for NH). I recommend purchase of either the entire set or the 10p if found in either F-VF+ NH, LH or used condition.

  I view the issue as a conservative investment based on the growth in popularity of Spanish Colonies stamps. I think that the development of a significant stamp collecting population in the foreseeable future is unlikely, but should that happen, it could dramatically boost the value of all of the stamps of Elobey, Annobon, and Corisco.

   Equatorial Guinea is one of the smallest nations in Africa, with a population of just under 700,000. It is one of the richest nations on a per capita basis due to significant oil reserves; however, the the wealth is distributed very unevenly and benefits a tiny elite, and 70% of the population lives on about $2 per day. The country's brutal regime protects the wealthy and maintains the inequity, as  Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world, consistently ranking among the "worst of the worst" in Freedom House's annual survey of political and civil rights

The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a forum for discussing stamp auctions, and represents the interests of stamp auction bidders and consignors in their dealings with stamp auctioneers. All stamp collectors and dealers are welcome to join.   
 







Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Ionian Islands 1941-43 Occupation Issues (Scott #N1-NRA5)

   The Ionian Islands were occupied by Italy in 1941 after its invasion of Greece, and in 1943 by the Germans after the Italians withdrew. The Italian and German forces issued 49 stamps during the occupation (not counting varieties) and many of these stamps are quite scarce, including some of the relatively inexpensive ones.

N17
  Unfortunately, all are overprinted stamps of Greece, and since fake overprints exist, only the most pricey of the stamps are worth buying,
due to the necessary cost of obtaining certificates. These six stamps are from the Italian Occupation - pairs overprinted for the islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca. I've listed them below, along with quantities issued and Scott '14 values for unused:

  • 1941 30d Orange Brown (N17; 364 issued; $1,400.- )
NC5
Airmail Stamps:
  • 1941 25d Rose (NC3; 319;  $650.- )
  • 1941 50d Violet - the key stamp (NC5; 115; $4,500.- )
  • 1941 100d Brown (NC6; 245; $2,250.- )
  • 1941 50L Violet Brown (NC11; Unknown; $ 2,400.-)
Postal Tax Stamp:
  • 1941 50L Gray Green on pale green (NRA5; Unknown; $875.-)  
   I haven't listed the various overprint varieties, which should also be considered if the total cost (including expertization) is within reason.

   These stamps have remained grossly undervalued because of the inconvenience and cost of getting them expertized, but they have multiple market appeal in Italy, Greece, and possibly Germany (due to the later occupation).

   Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to check out the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.




Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Manchukuo 1937 Completion of Capital (Scott #116-19)

In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria following the Mukden Incident, in which the Japanese military staged an act of sabotage in order to provide a pretext for war. In 1932, the Japanese formed the puppet state of Manchukuo, with Henry Pu-Yi, the former Emperor of China, as its head of state.

In 1937, Manchukuo issued a set of four stamps commemorating the completion of its National Capital (Scott #116-19). 84,000  sets were issued, and Scott '14 values the set unused at $18.25 ($24.- for NH).

I consider this issue to be a low-risk investment due to its scarcity and potential dual market among collectors of both China and Japan. It has been overlooked by Chinese collectors, due to their current tendency to spurn stamps issued by foreign occupiers. Eventually, this resentment will be diluted by reticence, and the undervaluation of this and similar issues will become obvious. Had this set been issued by the People's Republic, it's market value would be 50-100 times greater.

Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer.   
  


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Iran 1959 Visit of Pakistani President Ayub Khan (Scott #1135)

   In 1959, Iran issued a stamp celebrating the visit of the Pakistani President Ayub Khan (Scott #1135). 100,000 were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused stamp at $10.00 .

   This inexpensive stamp has a potential dual market among collectors in both Iran and Pakistan, since it portrays the dictators of the time from both countries. It is likely that most were used as postage and discarded.

  I believe that the stamp is undervalued due to the unpopularity of Iran's stamps, a consequence of its current pariah status. Currently, Iranian stamps of the pre-revolutionary period are primarily of interest to collectors among the Iranians living abroad, a relatively affluent group, of whom there are about 1.3 million.
 
  Note that a common defect found on many Iranian stamps of the '50s is badly toned, "gloppy" gum. When purchasing #1135, endeavor to select examples with clean gum.

   Stamps of Iran are not widely collected at present, partly for political reasons and partly because of the ubiquity of fakes among the early overprinted issues. Nevertheless, it is an oil-rich nation (ranked second in both oil and natural gas reserves) of 76 million people, and there are signs that many of them are becoming fed up with the corrupt and reactionary theocracy that is isolating Iran from the rest of the world. Furthermore, it is beginning to diversify away from its dependence on oil into other industries, such as biotech, nanotech, and pharmaceuticals, and it has the potential to develop a thriving tourism sector, should it institute reforms and begin to improve its image.

Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.      





Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Chile 1948 Flora and Fauna Issue (Scott #254-55,C124)


  In 1948, Chile issued a compound set of three se-tenant blocks of 25 stamps honoring the centennial of Claudio Gay's "Natural History of Chile" (Scott #254-55, C124). Though quantities issued information is not available for these stamps, I estimate that 20,000 or fewer sets were issued. Scott '14 prices the unused set of three blocks at $110.-  ($ 60.00  for 254-55, and $ 50.00 for C124).

   The set has obvious topical appeal for Flora/Fauna topicalists. According to the American Topical Association, the "Animals" category of topicals is the most popular among U.S. collectors.

   A nation of 17 million, Chile is considered the most "European" Latin American nation, and the proportion of stamp collectors within the population is moving towards European levels. Major sectors include agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, finance, and tourism. Although economic inequities common to most Latin American nations persist, the government favors gradual reform, and has a record of implementing sound economic policies. Annual GDP growth has averaged 3.2% over the last 5 years.

 "The Stamp Specialist" blog features my buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've posted a buy list for Chile. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Philippines 1932 Von Gronau Flight Overprint (Scott #C36-45)


 In 1932, the Philippines, then under U.S. administration, overprinted stamps from its Scenes issue of that year for use on the round-the-world flight of Captain Wolfgang von Gronau (Scott #C36-45). 25,305 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $29.- ($44.25 for NH).

   The set has potential multiple market appeal among collectors of Philippines, U.S. Possessions, Aerophilately, and in Germany, due to interest in  von Gronau. While I sometimes recommend obtaining expertization when buying overprinted stamps, this set is an exception because it's too inexpensive to fake.

As a newly democratic country of 92 million which is moving away from from its centuries-old complete dependence on agriculture, the Philippines could turn out to be one of the most successful emerging markets in the Pacific Region. The government tends toward fiscal conservatism coupled with long-term economic planning, and annual GDP growth has been around 6%-7%. Barring extreme political instability, it is likely that the Philippines will be one of the fastest growing economies over the next decades.

The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a forum for discussing stamp auctions, and represents the interests of stamp auction bidders and consignors in their dealings with stamp auctioneers. All stamp collectors and dealers are welcome to join.   
 





Sunday, June 8, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Sudan 1935 Surcharged Airmails (Scott #C17-22)











In 1935, Sudan issued a surcharged airmail set (Scott #C17-22) , by overprinting some of the stamps from its 1931-35 Statue of General Gordon Issue. Only 10,000 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $23.20.

While few of these stamps were actually used (the used sets are far pricier than the unused ones), the set is still undervalued, especially since it has potential dual market appeal among collectors of British Commonwealth and collectors of Sudan.

Until recently, Sudan was a nation of about 42 million people, living under what is perhaps the most vicious regime on the planet. It had suffered several civil wars over the last 50 years, including the one waged in Darfur, which earned the government international condemnation and charges of genocide. Recently, Southern Sudan (population = 8.2 million) gained independence, and it is unclear whether this will result in a lasting peace. Both countries are rich in oil, natural gas, and minerals. Agricultural production remains the most important sector, employing 80% of the workforce and contributing 39% of GDP, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Political instability,adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices ensures that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years. Annual GDP growth (for Sudan as a whole) has been very high, averaging almost 8% over the last five years. However, it is very likely that most (or all) of the prosperity has benefited only the ruling elite, as Sudan was not only one of the world's most murderous countries, but also one of the most corrupt.

I recommend the set on the basis of its appeal among British Commonwealth collectors. Should a significant collector population ever develop within either of the two Sudans, it would provide an additional catalyst for price appreciation.

Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer.   
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Yugoslavia 1932 Rowing Championship (Scott #B26-31)


 In 1932, Yugoslavia issued a set of six semi-postals honoring the European Rowing Championship Races, held that year in Belgrade (Scott #B26-31). 60,000 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $18.10 ($35.- for NH) .

  The set has multiple market appeal among collectors in the states which comprise the former Yugoslavia, as well as Sports Topicalists.

   With about 20 million citizens, the nations which comprise the former Yugoslavia are Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Kosovo (which is partially recognized). They are diverse emerging market economies, which are recovering from the depredations of war and the global financial crisis. Overall, annual GDP growth has been flat over the past 5 years.

   Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.      






Sunday, June 1, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: South Korea 1955 10th Anniv. of Independence Presentation Sheets (Michel Block 85-86, Scott 219Note.)


From 1948 to 1958, South Korea issued presentation sheets featuring the designs of its regular postage stamps. These ungummed, often crudely produced sheets were issued  in very low quantities and given to dignitaries, including friends of the President, as the country was not completely devoid of cronyism. The Michel catalog lists these sheets, but Scott does not, although it mentions them. They frequently sell at auction for between 10% and 20% of Michel, and I consider them grossly undervalued due to the uncertainty about their legitimacy. They were issued during a period of war and the gradual recovery from it, when the country was very poor, and they are as scarce as hen's teeth.

   In 1955, South Korea issued a set of two presentation sheets celebrating the nation's 10th Anniversary of Independence (Michel Block 85-86, Scott 219Note). 1,000 sets were issued, and Michel prices the set at at 900.- Euros (about $ 1,220.-). I recommend purchase of the set if it offered at around $120.- to $240.- (about 10%-20% of Michel CV).

  A nation of about 50 million people, South Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Currently, it is the world's 13th largest economy and eighth largest exporter. It's export-fueled economic growth has led to a miraculous explosion in its GDP, from almost nothing 50 years ago to about $1 trillion today. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4% over the last 5 years, reflecting a slowdown in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, South Korea may be the most rapidly aging nation on earth, as its 65+ population is expected to more than quadruple from 9% in 2005 to 38% in 2050. Obviously, this could pose economic challenges for the country, but it will almost certainly add to its stamp collecting population.

Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to check out the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.
 





Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Portuguese India 1952 Stamp Exhibition strip (Scott 520-21,523a)


   Both the Portuguese and the French held some territory in India, while the British dominated the rest of it. Both of the lesser colonial powers in India issued stamps which are, for the most part, neglected by Indian collectors, and which have potential multiple market appeal in India, their home countries, and among collectors of European colonies. Interestingly, the Portuguese held out the longest of the three, and issued stamps for their colony until India seized it in 1961, ending the occupation. It's not the only time that obsolescent imperial visions of grandeur have benefited philatelists.

   In 1952, Portuguese India issued two souvenir sheets and a strip of two + label to celebrate its first stamp exhibition (Scott #522-23, 523a). The souvenir sheets picture St. Francis Xavier and his tomb, while the strip contains a one stamp picturing the saint and another picturing Portuguese India's first stamp. 30,000 of each were issued and Scott '14 prices the sheets and the strip unused at $29.00 and $25.00 respectively.

   These items have additional market appeal among collectors of India, Portuguese Colonies, and collectors of Religion and Stamp-on-Stamp topicals.
   Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer.   




Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Argentina 1956 Stamp Centenary Souvenir Sheet (Scott #653a)



   In 1956, Argentina issued a souvenir sheet celebrating the centenary of its postage stamps (Scott #653a). 100,000 were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused sheet at $9.00.

   The sheet has additional appeal as a Stamp-on-Stamp topical.

I continue to favor all better stamps of Latin America as bets on the growth of the region's middle class. As collectors often focus on Latin America as a whole, demand for the stamps of the individual countries is supplemented by the the more general regional focus.

With a population of about 40 million, Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Historically, Argentina's economic performance has been uneven, as periods of high economic growth have alternated with severe downturns. Over the last 5 years, annual GDP growth has averaged an impressive 6.5%. However, over the last 20 years Argentina has weathered several major debt crises and recessions.

 "The Stamp Specialist" blog features my buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've posted a buy list for Argentina. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.






Thursday, May 22, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: French Southern and Antarctic Territories 1968 Space Exploration (Scott #C16a)


   Of the seven countries which claim territories in the Antarctic, four issue  stamps for them. They are: Great Britain (British Antarctic Territory), Australia (Australian Antarctic Territory), New Zealand (the Ross Dependency), and France (the French Southern and Antarctic Territories). Of these, the French territory, also known as French Antarctic is of most interest to philatelists, because most of the F.S.A.T. stamps were issued in modest quantities and many are beautifully engraved. Most stamps issued for the various Antarctic territories are sold to collectors, as only a few hundred scientists reside in research facilities there.

In 1968, the F.S.A.T. issued a set of two stamps honoring France's Dragon Rockets (Scott #C15-16), which should be bought as a triptych (Scott #C16a). 45,000 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused triptych at $40.- .

Demand for stamps of the French Antarctic is strong in France and among collectors of French Colonies/Area and Polar Topicals worldwide, and the triptych  has obvious appeal as a Space Exploration and Transportation topical. 

The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a forum for discussing stamp auctions, and represents the interests of stamp auction bidders and consignors in their dealings with stamp auctioneers. All stamp collectors and dealers are welcome to join.   
 




Sunday, May 18, 2014

Phila-Trivia: The Guano Trade and the Clipperton Island Stamps





   While the California and Alaska Gold Rushes are well known and have been immortalized in films and literature, the Guano Trade of the mid- and late 19th Century is less so, though it  played a pivotal role in the development of modern intensive farming practices and inspired the colonization of remote islands in many parts of the world. Guano, the accumulated droppings of birds or bats, is an extremely effective fertilizer and a rich source of phosphorous and nitrogen, key ingredients of gunpowder.


   Among the historic relics of the Guano Trade are the stamps of Clipperton Island, a guano-rich coral atoll which was mined by the Oceanic Phosphate Company.
   

   Clipperton Island was named after the English mutineer and pirate John Clipperton, who made it his hideout in 1705. The French claimed Clipperton in 1855, but Mexican forces invaded in 1897 and stationed troops there until 1917. In 1930, the island again came under French rule. The island is the only atoll in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and it lies about 670 miles southwest of Mancanilla Bay, Mexico, the nearest mainland. It comprises a ring of dead coral surrounding a lagoon, measuring less than four square miles. Numerous birds use the deserted and uninhabited island as a nesting place and therefore it is rich in guano deposits.

   In 1892, the Oceanic Phosphate Company, an American firm, began to exploit these guano deposits. It was  estimated that there were about 1,000,000 tons of fertilizing material on the island, and valued at between $18 and $20 a ton.



   In 1895, 200 sets of ten stamps, denominated in American currency, were issued by W. Frese and Company, acting as agents of Oceanic Phosphate. The set's six similar designs  pictured the atoll surrounding the year "1895", as well as crawfish and birds - the Masked Boobies which abound there.



   Initial responses to these stamps published in the philatelic press were quite skeptical, as many viewed their issuance as yet another attempt to bilk collectors. However, W. Frese and Company responded:


"...There are but a few men on the island, but we will have between one hundred and two hundred at work there later. There is no communication with any nearer point than San Francisco, and this only by means of our vessels, which sail at irregular periods, as circumstances require. Heretofore we have carried the mail for our employees, and have taken the chance of collecting for this service. On this basis we have at times carried as much as $15.00 worth of mail matter on a single voyage of one of our vessels. We found it difficult, in most cases, to make them pay this charge, and to obviate this trouble in the future we

decided to issue stamps, which must be used to prepay postage by those sending mail to or from

Clipperton Island." 
Mexican stamps overprinted
for mailings from Clipperton Island




   Presumably use of the set was discontinued following the Mexican invasion of 1897. Thereafter, Mexican stamps were overprinted for mailings from the island. 



   Whether issued for philatelic purposes or not, the set is quite scarce and is occasionally offered at stamp auctions, at which it usually sells for around $ 500.- to $ 750.-. 

    Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.      



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Niger Coast Protectorate 1892 Overprint (Scott #1-6)


   The Niger Coast Protectorate, a territory originally known as the Oil Rivers Protectorate, was a typical colonial "company territory" managed by the Royal Niger Company. The Company controlled the territory's land, resources, and people for the enrichment of its shareholders. It surrendered its charter to the Crown in 1899, and the Protectorate was then incorporated into the two new territories of Northern and Southern Nigeria, which were combined to form the colony of Nigeria in 1914.

   During its seven-year existence, the Protectorate issued 63 stamps (plus varieties), including some notable rarities. Among the more affordable and accessible is its first issue, the 1892 Overprints (Scott #1-6), which were created by overprinting some of the stamps from Great Britain's 1887-92 Victoria Issue. Only 6,720 sets were issued, and Scott '14 values the set unused at $155.75.  While I usually recommend obtaining expertization on scarce overprinted stamps, in this case doing so is unnecessary because the non-overprinted British stamps are actually more expensive, though far more common.

   Stamps of Niger Coast Protectorate have the potential for dual market appeal among collectors of British Commonwealth and Nigeria.

   A nation of over 154 million people, Nigeria is an an emerging market country, and is rapidly approaching middle income status, with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, transport sectors, and a stock exchange which is the second largest in Africa. It is the eighth largest exporter of petroleum in the world. GDP growth has averaged almost 6% over the last 5 years. However, the country also has major problems, including corruption, human rights abuses, grossly unequal distribution of income, and internal religious and tribal conflicts.

Based purely on the growth of demand from British Commonwealth collectors, the set represents a conservative investment with little downside risk. Should Nigeria develop even a modest base of stamp collectors, the set will soar.

Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer.   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Panama 1930 Plane Over Map Airmails (Scott #C10-14)

 

In 1930, Panama issued a set of five airmail stamps picturing a plane over a map of Panama (Scott #C10-14). 10,000 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $13.05.

It is likely that most of these stamps were used as postage and then discarded. Furthermore, the set appeals to a small but rapidly growing number of Map on Stamp topicalists, also known as "Cartophilatelists."

As with all Latin American stamps, there are many collectors who focus on the region as a whole, which supplements demand for the stamps of the individual countries.

A nation of 3.4 million people, Panama is the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America. Panama's economy, because of its key geographic location, is mainly based on a well developed service sector heavily weighted towards banking, commerce, tourism, trading. The handover of the Canal and military installations by the United States has given rise to large construction projects. Tourism has grown rapidly during the past 5 years due to the government offering tax and price discounts to foreign guests and retirees. The country also has valuable copper and gold deposits, which are beginning to be developed. Annual GDP growth has averaged over 7% over the last 5 years.

 "The Stamp Specialist" blog features my buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've  posted a buy list for Panama. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.




Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Poland 1955 International Philatelic Exhibition Souvenir Sheets (Scott #B104-05)

   In 1955, Poland issued a set of two souvenir sheets honoring the International Philatelic Exhibition, held in Warsaw (Scott #B104-05). 73,600 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $ 21.75.

   One of the sheets pictures pansies, giving it additional appeal as a Flower topical.

  With 38 million people, Poland is one of the fastest growing economies of all of the formerly Communist countries, with annual GDP growth averaging about 5.5% over the past 5 years. The nation has steadfastly pursued a policy of liberalizing the economy, and was not severely impacted by the recent global financial crisis. It is likely that Poland will be one of the world's fastest growing economies over the next several decades.

  Better stamps of Poland should rise in value as the country prospers and the population of Polish stamp collectors increases. Interest in Polish history and national pride are important elements in the culture of this oft-conquered people, and there are some 10 million Polish-Americans with ties to the country.

  Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to check out the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.  





Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Manchukuo 1934 Enthronement (Scott #32-35 )


In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria following the Mukden Incident, in which the Japanese military staged an act of sabotage in order to provide a pretext for war. In 1932, the Japanese formed the puppet state of Manchukuo, with Henry Pu-Yi, the former Emperor of China, as its head of state.

In 1934, Manchukuo issued a set of four stamps picturing either the Emperor's
Palace or a phoenix, symbolizing the former emperor's "restoration" (Scott #32-35).  120,000 were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $51.50 ($75.- for NH).

I recommend this issue due to both its scarcity and potential dual market among collectors of both China and Japan. I believe that it has been overlooked by collectors in China, due to their current tendency to spurn stamps issued by foreign occupiers.

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