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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Netherlands/Netherlands Indies 1921 Marine Insurance Stamps (Scott #GY1-7)

In 1921, the Netherlands, and its main colony, the Netherlands Indies, both issued Marine Insurance Stamps (Scott #GY1-7, in both cases). These stamps were used to pay for a very unusual type of insured mail. Letters bearing the stamps were placed in safes mounted on the decks of ships en route between Netherlands and Netherlands East Indies. The safes were buoyant and were equipped with flares and bells. In the event that the ship sank, the safe would float off and the flares and bells would activate, hopefully leading to the recovery of the safe and its contents. Only 5,216 of the Netherlands set were issued, and 4,127 of the Netherlands Indies set, and Scott '10 prices them unused at $ 605.- ($1,500.- for NH) and $ 186.90, respectively.

Both sets should do well, although the Netherlands Indies set is "sexier," as it may potentially appeal to a dual market in both the Netherlands and Indonesia. With about 16.6 million people, the Netherlands is the 16th largest economy in the world, and its annual GDP growth has averaged about 2.5% over the last 5 years. Indonesia is a developing, though still poor, country of 230 million people, with an annual GDP growth rate hovering around 5%-6%. Like most emerging market nations, it faces challenges which will have to be addressed, including corruption and major inequities in the distribution of income.

Furthermore, global aging trends in both countries should bolster the population of serious stamp collectors in both countries in the coming decades. The Netherlands' population of citizens age 60+ is projected to rise from 18.3% in 2000 to 32.8% in 2050, while Indonesia's 60+ age group is expected to almost triple, from 7.6% to 22.3%.

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