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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Haiti 1958 President Duvalier (Scott 428-31/C122-25, C125Note)

In 1958, Haiti issued a compound set and souvenir sheet (Scott #428-31/C122-25, C125Note) honoring its dictator, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, a somewhat eccentric tyrant who modeled his image on that of Baron Samedi, a Voodoo spirit. Only 3,000 sets and 3,000 of the souvenir sheet were issued, and Scott '10 prices them unused at $10.90 and $6.25, respectively.

When it comes to philatelic investing, Haiti represents a ground floor opportunity. While some of its earlier stamps have attracted interest among specialists in the U.S. and Europe, many of its scarce modern sets have been neglected. Normally, I recommend that investors focus on either key stamps or popular topical issues when speculating on stamps of desperately poor countries, but the Duvalier set stands out because of its scarcity, inexpensiveness, and historic significance. As speculations go, it's about as low-risk as they come.

A nation of about 9 million people, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. In 2009, it had a nominal GDP of about $7 billion , with a GDP per capita of $790 - slightly over $2 per person per day. Half of all Haitians are illiterate, and 66% work in the agricultural sector, mainly as small-scale subsistence farmers. The richest 1% of the population owns about 50% of the wealth, and the country is rated among the most corrupt in the world. Not surprisingly, annual GDP growth has been low, averaging about 1.8% over the last 5 years. The devastating 2010 Earthquake resulted in increased international attention and aid, offering the hope that perhaps things can't get much worse.

I have begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist" , featuring buy prices for stamps which I wish to purchase, including this Haitian set. Viewing buy lists every once in a while is an excellent way to remain informed concerning the vagaries of the stamp market.


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