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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: South Korea 1957 Boy Scout Souvenir Sheet (Mi. Block #109)

In 1957, South Korea issued a set of stamps (Scott #245-46) and imperforate souvenir sheet (Michel Block #109) celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts. While the set is relatively common (200,000 issued), only 1,000 of the souvenir sheets were issued, and Michel '06 values it at 4,200.- Euros for unused (Scott does not list the sheet). Michel does not issue a catalog for Asia every year, and its 2006 edition is its most recent. While the catalog value may seem high, it is sometimes possible to purchase the better, Michel-listed souvenir sheets of South Korea in VF NH condition for 30%-50% of catalog at auction.

I'm attracted to this scarce souvenir sheet both because it is an undervalued item from South Korea and because it is a Scouting Topical. I've tipped a number of better Scouting Topicals in the past, because the market for Scouting-related collectibles (including stamps) is similar to that of a mid-sized country. In 2007, Boy and Girl Scouts and Guides numbered 38 million members (of which 25 million were Boy Scouts) in 216 countries worldwide. Furthermore, the Boy Scouts actively promote the hobby among their members with a Stamp Collecting merit badge (pictured).

South Korea, a nation of about 50 million people, 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 4.2% 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.

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