Tuesday, August 17, 2010
In 1907 and '08, the Cayman Islands issued a set of handstamped provisional surcharges (Scott #17-20). Provisional surcharges are generally issued locally when there is an immediate demand for stamps of particular denominations. The crudest and ugliest of these surcharges are the top three values, which are also the scarcest. While the issuance quantity for #17 (the most common; Scott '10 CV for unused = $ 60.00) is unknown, there were 1,800 of #18 and #19 issued (Scott CV of $ 350.00 and $ 375.00 as unused, respectively), and only 480 of #20 (Scott CV as unused = $ 2,000.-) . The varieties of these surcharged stamps are among the great rarities of Caribbean philately. As fake surcharges exist, all (with the possible exception of #17) should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization.
I view these stamps as conservative investments, which should do well as interest in British Commonwealth stamps continues to increase. The significance of a of a domestic Caymanian stamp collector base is limited by the territory's small population (about 60,000). This is offset to some extent by the fact that Caymanians are affluent (they have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean, and the 12th highest GDP per capital in the world), with a thriving tourism sector and the world's fifth largest banking center.