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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Honduras UN Issue (Scott C222-30)

In 1953, Honduras issued an airmail set honoring the United Nations (Scott #C222-30). Only 10,000 were issued, and Scott values the unused set at $36.60.

The main reason that this set remains cheap is that Honduras is still a very poor country, and few of its citizens can afford to collect stamps. As far as philatelic investing goes, it qualifies as a "ground floor opportunity" (as described in one of my "general commentary" articles last year), for which the best strategy is to minimize risk by buying stamps of the country which have worldwide appeal, such as rarities and popular topicals, and then hope for additional increases in value as the country's situation improves. To some extent, Honduran stamp values are sustained by the tendency among stamp collectors to collect Latin America as a region, rather than focusing on individual countries.

I continue to like the U.N. as a topic, long-term. The market for U.N.-related topicals should grow over the very long haul as institutions of world government develop in order to take on serious (and possibly existential) problems which can only be coped with globally. Despite the present inadequacy, corruption, and ineffectiveness of the U.N., I view its reform and gradual strengthening as a gradual but irresistible trend.

Honduras is a nation of about 7 1/2 million people, which has recently undergone a coup d' etat and constitutional crisis and may revert to being a dictatorship. The economy, which is largely dependent on agriculture and mining, has continued to grow, but the distribution of wealth remains very polarized, with average wages remaining low. 50% of the population still remains below the poverty line. Should the dictatorship succeed in solidifying its position by relying on the tried and true methods of harassing, imprisoning, torturing, and murdering labor organizers, journalists, and political activists, then Honduras will go back to being an asset of parasitic multinational corporations, which will extract its minerals, deforest it for lumber, and endeavor to ensure that most Hondurans remain impoverished, servile farm laborers, willing to spend their lives toiling in the fields for about a dollar a day.

Annual GDP growth has averaged 3.5% over the last five years, reflecting a 3% contraction in 2010 due to the reverberations of the global financial crisis. Obviously, the key question is whether GDP growth will translate into prosperity for most Hondurans over the next decades,
and that will depend upon whether the country regresses, reforms, or revolts.

I have begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", which will feature wholesale buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've just posted a buy list for Honduras, and it includes the set recommended in this article. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.

Those interested in joining a community of stamp investors, dealers, and collectors are welcome to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, and trade stamps, and discuss philatelic investing and practical aspects of stamp collecting.

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