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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Uzbekistan 1999 Horses Souvenir Sheet (Scott #181 )

In 1999, Uzbekistan issued a souvenir sheet picturing horses (Scott #181 ). Only 10,000 were issued, and Scott '10 values it at $ 3.50 for unused. While the sheet was almost certainly produced to generate revenue from sales to collectors, it is nevertheless an attractive, cheap, and scarce topical that is worth the ride. As Uzbekistan's economic prospects seem promising, the souvenir sheet is "twice lovable."

A nation of about 28 million, Uzbekistan relies mainly on the production or extraction of commodities, including cotton, gold, uranium, potassium, and natural gas. The government is slowly relaxing state control of the economy, although it remains hostile to allowing the development of a significant private sector. Average annual GDP growth has been outstanding, averaging 8% over the last 5 years. However, average income has remained low, at around $610 per year (2006), largely due to the fact that much of the country's prosperity has benefited a tiny ruling elite of corrupt bureaucrats. Reforms are obviously necessary, although given the country's abysmal human rights record, the road to change will probably be a bumpy one.

Many of the newly independent and newly resurrected nations of Europe and Central Asia have issued popular topical sets and souvenir sheets in modest quantities, and most are currently very inexpensive. I view such issues as low-risk speculations, as only time will tell whether either the development of stamp markets within these countries or topical appeal will push them significantly higher. In a sense, they're comparable to penny stocks, but not as risky.

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