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.