Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In 1949, Ethiopia issued a set of overprinted semi-postals (Scott #B6-10) commemorating the National Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition, held in Addis Adaba. Initially, 15,ooo sets were issued, but most sets were not sold, and 10,ooo of each of the low values and 5,000 of the high value were later overprinted again, creating the the 1951 Exposition set (Scott #B16-20). Consequently, B6-10 ultimately had a total quantity issued of 5,000. Scott '09 values B 6-10 unused at $ 49.00 and B 16-20 at $ 25.00, and I feel that both catalog values are absurdly low. Many similarly undervalued Ethiopian issues exist, however, and I intend to recommend some of them in the future.
Ethiopia is still a poor country, with an estimated population of over 85 million people, but it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with annual GDP growth of 9%-11%. It has the greatest water reserves in Africa, and is one of its most fertile countries. According to the New York Times, it has the potential "to become the breadbasket for much of Europe
if its agriculture were better organized."
Ethiopia has a fascinating philatelic history, and most serious collectors who specialize in Ethiopia are Europeans and Americans. I expect that this will change over the long-term, as it has for so many countries which have risen out of poverty.
K1 2c on 1c Green (355,000; $ $25.00 unused; $70.00 NH)
K2 4c on 2c Rose (355,000; $25.00 unused; $ 70.00 NH)
K3 6c on 3c Violet (113,000;$ 60.00 unused; $ 150.00 NH)
K4 8c on 4c Brown (113,000; $ 60.00 unused; $ 150.00 NH)
K5 10c on 5c Blue (113,000; $ 85.00 unused; $ 220.00 NH )
K6 12c on 6c Red Orange (113,000; $ 85.00 unused; $ 220.00 NH )
K7 14c on 7c Black (113,000;$ 87.50 unused; $ 225.00 NH)
K8 16c on 8c Olive Bister (13,000; $ 70.00 unused; $ 180.00 NH)
K8a 16c on 8c Olive Green (100,000;$ 60.00 unused; $ 160.00 NH)
K9 18c on 9c Salmon Red (113,000; $ 65.00 unused; $ 170.00 NH)
K10 20c on 10c Orange Yellow (113,000; $ 60.00 unused; $ 160.00 NH )
K11 24c on 12c Brown Carmine (50,000; $ 80.00 unused; $ 200.00 NH)
K11a 24c on 12c Claret Brown (8,000; $ 110.00 unused; $ 275.00 NH )
K12 30c on 15c Gray (58,000; $ 87.50 unused; $ 210.00 NH)
K13 40c on 20c Deep Ultramarine (58,000; $ 130.00 unused; $ 300.00 NH)
K14 60c on 30c Orange Red ( 58,000; $ 120.00 unused; $ 280.00 NH)
K15 $1 on 50c Light Violet (14,000; $ 575.00 unused; $ 1,300.00 NH)
K16 $2 on $1 Violet Brown (13,800; $ 450.00 unused; $ 1,000.00 NH)
K16a $2 on $1 Violet Brown, double surcharge (200;$ 8,500.00 unused; $ 14,000.00 NH)
K17 2c on 1c Green (10,000;$ 110.00 unused; $ 250.00 NH)
K18 4c on 2c Carmine (10,000; $ 100.00 unused; $ 230.00 NH)
K18a 4c on 2c Carmine, "SHANGHAI" Omitted (Unknown, probably 100 or fewer; $ 7,500.00 unused)
K18b 4c on 2c Carmine, "CHINA" only (Unknown, probably 100 or fewer; $ 15,000.00 unused)
The three overprint errors (K16a,K18a, and K18b) are the key stamps of this set, and they, along with the other better stamps should be expertized prior to purchase. The Offices in China Issues tend to have mediocre centering. I recommend obtaining graded certificates for those which are VF-XF or better, and which catalog over $100.
Many of the stamps issued by various nations for their offices and possessions in China have not experienced the same meteoric rise as the currently hot issues of the P.R.C.. Perhaps this is partly attributable to Chinese nationalism, as the foreign countries that had colonies or spheres of influence in China were there as imperial powers, attempting to suck the lifeblood out of the Chinese people via the opium trade, resource extraction, and other means. Nevertheless, many of the stamps issued by the U.S., Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal (for Macao) and Russia for their Chinese offices/possessions are quite scarce and undervalued, and eagerly sought by the colonies collectors of those countries. Eventually, the Chinese market will take greater notice of them.
Monday, September 28, 2009
With an estimated 76 million people, Egypt possesses one of the most developed economies in the Mid-East, with a GDP growth rate of 5% -7%. The government is undertaking major economic reforms to further spur development, including massive investments in infrastructure and liberalizing economic and tax policies to encourage foreign investment. Egypt's main challenge in the years to come will be one of social and political democratization - how to assure that enough of the new wealth trickles down to the majority of the population to lessen the problems of poverty and political instability.
Mail delivery was among the tasks performed by the Cadet Corps, and since inventories of postage stamps had been depleted during the Siege, stamps of the Cape of Good Hope and the Bechuanaland Protectorate were surcharged, and new stamps picturing 12 year-old Sergeant Major Goodyear (later considered the "First Boy Scout") and Baden-Powell himself were locally produced.
All of the stamps of the Siege of Mafeking Issues (Scott #162-180) are scarce to rare, and both fake overprints and forgeries exist, so expertization should be a condition for purchase. I've listed the stamps, along with quantities issued and Scott '10 Catalog Values, below:
Stamps of Cape of Good Hope surcharged:
#162 1p on 1/2p Green (7,680; $ 240.00 unused, $ 77.50 used)
163 1p on 1/2p Green (5,280; $ 300.00 unused, $ 90.00 used)
164 3p on 1p Rose (6,000; $ 275.00unused, $ 60.00 used)
165 6p on 3p Red Violet (840; $ 42,500.00 unused, $ 300.00 used)
Stamps of Bechuanaland Protectorate Surcharged:
168 and 173 3p on 1p Lilac ( 1,800 total; 168: $ 1,000.00 unused, $ 105.00 used; 173: 1,050.00 unused, $ 90.00 used)
169 and 174 6p on 2p Green and Carmine (1,200 total ; 169: $ 2,250.00 unused, $ 90.00 used; 174: $ 1,300.00 unused, $ 90.00 used )
170 6p on 3p Violet on yellow (1,440; $ 2,250.00 unused, $ 90.00 used)
171 6p on 3p Violet (3,600; $ 450.00 unused, $ 80.00 used)
172 1sh on 4p Brown and Green (2,320; $ 1,650.00 unused, $ 95.00 used)
175 1sh on 6p Violet on rose (1,440; $ 7,250.00 unused, $ 105.00 used)
176 1sh on 6p Violet on rose (240; $ 55,000.00 unused, $ 900.00 used)
177 2sh on 1sh Green (570; $ 14,500.00 unused, $ 500.00 used)
Locally Printed Issue:
178 1p Blue on blue (9,476; $ 1,000.00 unused, $ 425.00 used)
179 3p Blue on blue, 18 1/2mm wide (6,072; $ 1,400.00 unused, $425.00 used)
180 3p Blue on blue, 21 mm wide (3,036; $ 10,750.00 unused, $1,500.00 used)
In 2007, Boy and Girl Scouts and Guides numbered 38 million members in 216 countries worldwide. Scouting Topical stamps are extremely popular internationally. The stamps of the Siege of Mafeking were the first such produced, and will remain key items within any Scouting collection. I strongly recommend purchase of these scarce stamps, conditional on obtaining expertization.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
In August of 1964, about a year and a half before the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the People's Republic of China symbolically fulfilled its broken promise to let a few flowers bloom, by issuing a set (Scott 767-81) and souvenir sheet picturing paintings of Peonies (Scott #782). Only 30,000 of these beautiful Flower topical souvenir sheets were issued, and Scott '10 values the unused souvenir sheet at $ 1,200.00 .
Most were sold to American and European collectors, because philately was discouraged in the P.R.C. at the time. Like the Ping Pong souvenir sheet (Scott #566a) tipped earlier in this blog, this sheet is white-hot right now, and tipping it is actually a boringly safe recommendation. Unless China has another revolution or the sky falls on it somehow, the Peony Souvenir Sheet will continue to soar, the only pertinent question being how far and how quickly.
Philately is replete with absurdity and interesting trivia.
Over the years, Bhutan, a kingdom in the Himalayas, has issued many "novelty" postage stamps, which have sold mainly to collectors and contributed to the country's economic development. In 1973, Bhutan issued a group of stamps that were actually small phonograph records which played the National Anthem and local folk songs.
In 2008, to celebrate the centennial of its hereditary monarchy and the crowning of its 5th king, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bhutan issued the world's first CD-ROM postage stamp. The stamp commemorates on video the anniversary, crowning, and signing of the new constitution, and visually documents Bhutan's evolution as an emerging democracy.
For those who collect stamps on cover, attempting to insert a whole envelope bearing the CD-ROM stamp into your hard drive is probably not such a great idea.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
From the perspective of the consignor, the four types of auctions described in the earlier article on buying at auction (Practical Advice: Auctions, Part I - Bidding and Buying) are useful for liquidating different types of material. A few general questions regarding terms for consignors apply to all four, however:
- What is the seller's commission? Most stamp auctions charge a 10%-15% commission of the gross realization from sellers, but some charge as much as 25%. If a consignment is large enough, many an auctioneer will reduce or even eliminate the seller's commission, because he is in competition with other auctioneers who also may wish obtain the consignment.
- What is the buyer's commission? Most stamp auctions charge a commission to the buyer as well as to the seller. While the seller doesn't pay this commission directly, it does affect how much prospective buyers are willing to bid for his lots.
- Does the auctioneer allow consignors to set minimum reserves on their lots? This is important because reserves eliminate the possibility of the consignor's lots selling for too little.
- What are the minimum consignment values and minimum lot values?
- Must the consignor pay lotting fees for unsold lots? Are there any other fees for which the consignor is responsible?
- How many catalogs are sent out and how many are sent overseas?
- What is the auctioneer's record when he has sold similar material in the past? It's always prudent to request the records of realizations from recent auctions in which the auctioneer has offered material similar to the consignor's. Many of the same bidders who have purchased this material will probably bid on yours.
- How soon after the auction does the consignor get paid?
- Is the auctioneer reputable? This can be determined by checking with the membership department of the philatelic society to which he belongs.
- Premier Auctions require the highest minimum consignment and lot values. Lately, they've been trending towards charging high consignor's and buyer's commissions of 15% to 20%. Unless your consignment is extremely valuable, the premier auctioneer will be inflexible in maintaining his terms. On the positive side, premier auctions tend to achieve high realizations for better material, because their clientele tends to be very affluent.
- Specialty Auctions focus on stamps of a particular collecting area. They're generally similar to premier auctions, and also tend to achieve high realizations, because their clientele specializes in the stamps which they're offering.
- "Second Tier" U.S. and Worldwide Auctions neither specialize nor do they publish expensive catalogs. Commissions tend to be more reasonable at such auctions, and minimum consignment and lot values are lower. Frequently, the auctioneer will be more flexible as to terms if the consignment is of medium value or greater, or the consignor has established a relationship with the auctioneer. Realizations are across the board, and at most such auctions, there will be both bargains and gross overbidding.
- Ebay reaches the widest possible audience, and is useful for selling inexpensive and medium-value single items, and low-grade collections or accumulations.Its main disadvantages are that it charges the seller an insertion fee whether a lot sells or not, and bidders don't tend to bid as much for individual high-value items as they would at a regular stamp auction, because they cannot physically inspect the lots. On the plus side, its total commissions (including Paypal fees) for lots that actually sell are considerably lower than those of regular stamp auctions, and payment is received much faster.
- Local Antique Auctions are the best venues for dumping worthless junk. They are often attended by bidders who know very little or nothing about the stamp market, and who will pay real money for stamps that seem impressive to them because the stamps are beautiful, old, or from "exotic" countries. I do not condone blatant dishonesty when writing descriptions for lots for sale at an antique auction, but I see nothing wrong with presenting them in an attractive manner. A common tactic for antique auction sellers is to create a stamp "mystery box," a box of common stamps, recently received covers with interesting stamps attached, unwanted supplies, old auction catalogs, and other miscellaneous rubbish all thrown together in a lot for which the only true "mystery" is why anyone would want to bid on it. Antique auctioneers tend to charge a high seller's commission (usually 20%-25%), but they usually pay within 2 weeks after the auction. Local antique auctions are a great way to play the "ignorance market," converting garbage into real money which can then be re-invested in something of value. They are hit or miss opportunities, however, as sometimes sufficiently ignorant, gullible buyers do not show up to bid. Nevertheless, the risk of consigning to them is minimal or non-existent, given the quality of the material being unloaded.
The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a Facebook group which provides a venue 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.
Friday, September 25, 2009
With a population of just under 11 million, Belgium is the world's 15th largest trading nation. Highly industrialized, educated, and affluent, Belgium has a sizable, vibrant stamp collecting community comparable to those of its Northern European neighbors.
This souvenir sheet is well worth accumulating, either VF NH or used. Attractively cacheted First Day Covers exist, for which Michel assigns a hefty premium over the catalog value for used. Fortunately, many dealers don't keep up with Michel, so it may be possible to find a B605a FDC at a very reasonable price.
Note that a rare unwatermarked variety exists of the 10p Aztec Worshiper (Scott #706a), of which only 200 were issued. Scott values the variety at $ 3,250.00 unused ($ 5,000.00 for NH) . Should you decide to cough up for one, it could certainly become one of the crown jewels of your philatelic investment portfolio.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Between 1929 and 1943, Uruguay issued a magnificent set of thirty-six airmail stamps, the Pegasus Issue (Scott # C27-60A). Each stamp bears the same design but in different colors, and the set has become a favorite among Horse and Animal topical collectors. Only 5,000 sets were issued, and Scott '10 values it unused at $ 417.90. Because of its length and the fact that it was issued over 14 years, the set has become increasingly difficult to find complete and in decent shape (F-VF LH or better). I believe it to be a bargain at full Scott if found F-VF+ NH, or discounted by 40%-50% for LH.
A related issue with the same design, the 1944 Surcharged Pegasus set (Scott # C106-12) is also worth targeting. It had a somewhat higher printing (15,000), but is also far less expensive (Scott '10 Catalog Value = $ 12.00) .
I hesitate to recommend the 1935 Pegasus set (Scott #C63-82), because Scott notes that counterfeits of this set exist. I have not seen examples of these counterfeits, so cannot comment on how convincing they are.
With a population of about 3 1/2 million people, most of whom are of European or mixed descent, Uruguay has a stamp collecting population which will probably approach European levels in the years to come. Uruguay is one of the most economically developed, politically stable and least corrupt countries in Latin America, and is moving away from its dependence on agricultural exports and toward development of commercial technologies, especially software.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
These stamps are extremely scarce, and the covers are about as rare as hen's teeth. They are occasionally offered at auction. Expertization is a necessary condition of purchase, because forged handstamps exist. Many of the Spanish Marianas stamps are poorly centered, so attempt to either select one that has F-VF or better centering, unlike the one pictured, or discount for mediocre centering or condition problems.
The quantities issued and Scott ' 10 Catalog Values are as follows:
- 1 2c Dark Blue Green (500 issued; $875.00 unused, $ 325.00 used)
- 2 3c Dark Brown (500 issued; $ 675.00 unused, $ 225.00 used )
- 3 5c Carmine Rose (500 issued; $ 1,000.00 unused, $ 350.00 used)
- 4 6c Dark Blue (50 issued; $ 6,500.00 unused, $ 5,000.00 used)
- 5 8c Gray Brown (700 issued; $ 500.00 unused, $ 200.00 used)
- 6 15c Slate Green (150 issued; $ 2,500.00 unused, $ 1,300.00 used)
Stampselectors should view auctions both as opportunities to find bargains and as venues for selling (which will be discussed in a future article). This article will focus on bidding on and buying stamps at the four types of stamp auction: premier auctions, general U.S. and worldwide auctions, ebay and other Internet stamp auctions, and local antique auctions.
A few general rules apply when buying stamps at auction. Firstly, read the conditions of sale. Before bidding, it is important to know:
- the buyer's commission - this may be as little as 10%, or as high as 20% (or more); it is necessary to be aware of the buyer's commission when placing a bid because it is a part of the cost of the lot won;
- the costs of shipment, if you are not picking up lots - the shipment cost should be considered a part of the cost of the lot; note that certain auctioneers pad their invoices with very high "handling" charges in addition to the actual postage and insurance cost;
- the terms governing the return of misdescribed lots - these cover two matters of importance: a description of the kinds of lots that cannot be returned, and the duration of the return privilege. Many auctioneers specify that lots containing over a certain number of stamps, such as long sets of stamps or collections, cannot be returned. As for duration of the return privilege, most auctioneers allow bidders to return misdescribed lots within 10 days after receipt.
- the terms relating to expertization- almost all auctioneers grant an extension of the return privilege for the purpose of getting a stamp expertized. It is important to know how long this extension lasts, because experts can sometimes take up to 9 months to issue a certificate and send it back with the stamp. Some auctioneers will not grant such an extension if the auctioned stamp already bears a certificate that has been issued within the last 5 years. Others will grant an extension only if the extension is requested when bidding. Most auctioneers will refund both the cost of the stamp and the cost of expertization, up to a specified maximum amount, if the stamp receives a negative opinion from the expert. It is very important to know all of the expertization terms before placing a bid on any stamp which may require expertizing.
- additional fees, such as sales taxes or value added taxes;
Secondly, it is best to establish accounts with stamp auctioneers which allow for inspection of won lots prior to payment (if not attending the auction), and if possible, "net in 30 days" payment terms. When establishing such accounts, the auctioneer will request that you provide references, including society or organization membership information and dealer or auctioneer references. I am a firm believer in inspection prior to payment because, in my experience, even the best auction houses misdescribe lots 10% to 15% of the time, and the worst- 1/4 to 1/3 of the time. Such lots must be returned to the auctioneer via insured mail, and if a lot is grossly misdescribed, the auctioneer should be held accountable for postage and insurance costs, both ways. "Net in 30 days" payment terms is convenient because it allows the bidder time to resell the lot before he has paid for it.
Descriptions of stamps should be read carefully, noting any condition problems which are included. If condition problems are noted but trivialized, treat the trivialization sceptically, as the stamp's defect may not seem so trivial when you try to resell it. View all photos of lots, when available, as frequently photographed lots may not not be returned on the basis of problems which are visible in their photos.
Different strategic approaches apply to different types of auction.
Premier stamp auctions are conducted by the prestigious international stamp auction firms, and often feature many lots from prize-winning specialized collections formed by advanced collectors over a period of decades. Premier auctioneers always publish expensive, glossy auction catalogs, and the stamps displayed within them generally bring top dollar. Often, many of the lots are from collections consigned by just a few major consignors, with whom the auctioneer has had to make deals, including allowing reserved minimums and reduced seller's commissions, so as to bag the consignment. Such auctions usually have few outright bargains, because so many of the lots are "reserved to the hilt," but give the bidder the opportunity to purchase stamps which are rarely offered, and which may represent good investments.
General U.S. and Worldwide auctions present greater opportunities for bargains, especially in the areas of neglected foreign issues and large lots, such as collections and accumulations. As many of these auctions represent a large number of small consignors, fewer deals are made, and fewer lots have reserves. Often, the best bargains will be had by those who are willing to devote time and effort to inspecting the large lots, as most bidders are discouraged by the prospect of spending many hours rummaging through boxes.
Ebay and other Internet auctions have revolutionized the stamp market, and collectibles markets in general, in that they have brought together greater numbers of sellers and buyers than have ever been connected before. So many collectors, investors, and dealers have become adept at using Ebay that it is amazing to consider that it has only been around for about 15 years, and that before then, a collector who wished to buy or sell material usually had to go through a middleman who took a large cut for his services, such as a dealer or auctioneer, or else hope to find something at his local stamp club. Taking the classical Hobbesian perspective of free-market capitalism, I think it fair to say that ebay has waged a successful war of attrition against many of the traditional "mom and pop" operations, appropriating most of their customer base and driving those who could not adapt out of business.
When bidding on ebay lots, it is important to check the seller's feedback in order to ensure that he is reputable. The bidder should read all terms within the lot description, especially the return provisions and shipping costs. The seller should offer shipping terms which allow the option of insured mail, or registered mail if the seller is outside of the U.S.. These costs should be taken into account when bidding on a lot. Payments should be made via paypal, because it is convenient, and because it guarantees a refund in the event of a return of a misdescribed lot, or non-receipt of a lot sent via accountable (registered, insured, or certified) mail. I find that there are many bargains to be had on ebay, especially in items of "medium" value, which are too inexpensive to appear in major stamp auctions.
Local antique auctions are "hit and miss" situations, because usually when stamps are advertised for such auctions, they turn out to be "wallpaper", or junk. Much of the philatelic material that is offered at local antique auctions is either "limited edition" collections (described in an earlier article) and common worldwide stamps - either packet material or post-1940 U.S.. Occasionally, however, you may find a diamond among the mountains of coal, and will probably be able to buy it quite cheaply. The only thing of which one may be sure when attending a local antique auction is that the vast majority of bidders will be utterly ignorant of stamp values, and will therefore bid far too much or far too little.
The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a Facebook group which provides a venue 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.
Between 1905 and 1937, Denmark issued parcel post stamps for Greenland, which was a colony until becoming an integral part of Denmark in 1953. Scott lists these issues as two sets (Q1-9 and Q10-11), but one could argue that they actually comprised three separate sets: the 1905 typographed, perf. 12 1/2 issue, the 1916-37 typographed, perf. 11 or 11 1/2 issue, and the 1937 lithographed, perf. 11 issue.
All of the Greenland Parcel Posts (with the possible exceptions of Q6 and Q6a) are undervalued, probably because they've been neglected as "back-of-book" issues, and I've listed their quantities issued and Scott ' Catalog Values for unused below:
- Q1 1916 1 ore Olive Green (56,500 issued -$ 57.50)
- Q1a 1905 1 ore Olive Green, Perf 12 1/2 (10,000 issued - $ 775.00)
- Q2 1916 2 ore Yellow (37,500 issued - $ 325.00 )
- Q3 1916 5 ore Brown (32,500 issued- $ 125.00 )
- Q3a 1905 5 ore Brown, Perf 12 1/2 (5,000 issued- $ 750.00)
- Q4 and Q4b 10 ore Blue (58,000 total issued - $ 40.00 and $ 55.00, respectively)
- Q4a 1905 10 ore Blue, Perf 12 1/2 (10,000 issued - $ 950.00)
- Q5 1916 15 ore Violet (28,000 issued- $ 200.00)
- Q6 and Q6a 20 ore Red (344,000 total issued - $ 17.00 and $ 40.00, respectively )
- Q7 and Q7a 1937 70 ore Violet, Perf 11 (16,500 total issued - $ 40.00 and $ 250.00, respectively)
- Q8 and Q8a 1 krone Yellow ( 50,000 total issued- $ 40.00 and 52.50, respectively)
- Q9 1930 3 krone Brown (40,000 issued- $ 140.00)
- Q10 1937 70 ore Pale Violet (25,500 issued - $ 42.50)
- Q11 1937 1 krone Yellow (Unknown quantity issued - $ 40.00 )
Those interested in learning more about investing in stamps are welcome to join the Facebook "Stampselectors" group, which currently has over 1,600 members. The group provides a forum for discussion, and is also a useful venue for those who wish to buy and sell stamps and covers.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
One such stamp is the 10 peso Deep Green with Violet overprint (Scott #C15), of which only 500 were issued. I have selected this stamp merely as a representative of all of the scarcest stamps of this issue; I believe they are all comparable as investments, and list them, along with their Scott ' 10 Catalog Values (for unused) below:
- 16c Olive Bister with Red Overprint (Scott # C8)- 100 issued; $ 5,000.00
- 2p Violet Brown with Red Overprint (Scott # C13)- 900 issued; $ 650.00, $ 1,200.00 NH
- 4p Dark Blue with Red Overprint (Scott #C14) - 700 issued; $ 750.00, $ 1,300.00 NH
- 10p Deep Green with Violet Overprint (Scott #C15) - 500 issued; $ 1,350.00
- 26c Blue Green with Violet Overprint, watermarked single-lined PIPS (Scott #C16)-100 issued; $ 6,250.00
- 1p Pale Violet with Violet Overprint (Scott #C17)- 2,000 issued; $ 225.00, $ 450.00 NH
As a newly democratic and newly industrialized country of 92 million which is transitioning from its centuries-old complete dependence on agriculture, the Philippines may 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%.
There are many scarce and undervalued issues of the Philippines, some of which will be covered in future articles. I favor the better Madrid-Manila Airs in particular, because they are sought after in three markets (the Philippines, the U.S., because at the time that these stamps were issued, the Philippines was a U.S. Possession, and Spain, because of interest in the historic flight). Also ,I feel that they are undervalued in part because of the perceived difficulty of obtaining expertization, a concern which is rooted in lack of experience.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Scott '10 prices the unused sheet at $ 1,400.00 (and $ 2,200.00 for Never Hinged), which seems expensive. It isn't, considering that Japan, with its 128 million people, is the second largest economy in the world, has a healthy stamp market on par with those of Europe, and has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the world. The percentage of Japanese aged 60 and over, which was 23% in the year 2000, is expected to rise 42%, an 82% increase, by 2050.
In 1950, Spain issued a set of imperforate stamps (Scott #776-79, C127-30) commemorating the Centenary of its first postage stamps. The "Stamp on Stamp" topical pictured the 1850 Isabella II issue, and 41,000 sets were produced. Scott values the unused NH set at $ 575.00 and the used set at $ 376.00.
I favor the 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. Philately will continue to flourish under such conditions.
I recommend purchase of the set - unused or used. First Day Covers with the complete set are also attractive, as long as the premium over the cost of a plain used set isn't exhorbitant.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
In June of 1940, France surrendered to Germany, signing an armistice which instituted a regime of collaboration, centered in Vichy. General Charles de Gaulle, then in London serving as an emissary for the defeated government, established the Free French Organization and gave a speech over BBC Radio calling for French resistance to the occupying German forces and their French collaborators.
Initially, many of the Free French forces were not composed of French nationals. Over 65% were West African conscripts. Shortly after the fall of France, the French Colonies of Cameroun and French Equatorial Africa (with the exception of Gabon) were the first to join the Free French.
In November of 1940, Cameroun overprinted four values picturing the Falls on the M'bam River from its 1939-40 regular issue with the word "Spitfire" and a surcharge, creating a set of semi-postals (Scott #B10-13). The 5 franc surtax was used to purchase Spitfire Fighters for the Free French Army. Only 4,000 sets were issued and the set has a Scott '10 Catalog Value of
This set is of interest mostly to collectors of France and Colonies, and will continue to remain so, unless philatelic investors decide to target it. Despite my belief that stamp collecting in the Republic of Cameroon will not take off in the near future, I feel that the scarcity of the set and its historical significance make it a worthy long-term holding.
By First World standards, the Republic of Cameroon is a poor country, although it is considered one of the more stable and prosperous nations of Sub-Saharan Africa. With a population of about 19 million and GDP growth of about 4% per year, it is heavily reliant on commodity exports - agricultural products, timber, oil, aluminum, and other metals. The government seems to be moving towards gradual reforms- countering corruption, moving away from authoritarianism and human rights abuses, encouraging economic development, etc. - but it is likely that progress will be slow.
Friday, September 18, 2009
In 1819, the British East India Company, led by Sir Stamford Raffles, established a trading post on the island of Singapore, then the site of a small Malay fishing village. Over time, Singapore became one of the most important commercial and military centers of the British Empire, and the hub of British power in Southeast Asia.
In 1969, four years after becoming an independent republic, Singapore issued a set (Scott #101-06; Scott '10 Catalog Value of $ 127.00) and souvenir sheet (Scott #106a; Scott '10 Catalog Value of $ 675.00 for unused ) commemorating the 150th Anniversary of its Founding. Both are scarce, as 14,312 sets were issued, along with 9,067 souvenir sheets.
Since independence, Singapore has built a prosperous, export-driven economy, heavily based on manufacturing and refining imported goods. With a population of about 5 million, it is the 5th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. In January, 2009, this small island's foreign exchange reserves stood at approximately $170 billion. It is likely that the economy will grow by at least 4%-6% annually over the next 10 years.
I favor scarce and undervalued issues of all of the "Asian Tigers," and the "Raffles Issue" is no exception. Not only will its value reflect the continuing economic growth of Singapore, but given the paucity of supply, the market for the issue could easily be inflamed by competitive buy-listing in the not-too-distant future.
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.
In 1934, Czechoslovakia issued a set of two souvenir sheets of 15 stamps each (Scott # 200a-201a) commemorating the Centenary of the National Anthem, Kde Domov Muj? (Where is My Home?), written by composer Frantisek Skroup and playwright Josef Kajitan Tyl. 9,600 sets were issued and Scott '10 prices the set at $ 1,100.00.