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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Macao 1911 Surcharges (Scott #158-61)

In 1911, Macao (then a Portuguese Colony) surcharged a group of stamps in order to meet the immediate demand for certain rates (Scott #158-61). Of these, the rarest are Scott #159C (Scott '11 CV = $4,000.- as unused) and Scott #160 (Scott '10 CV = $4,500.- as unused), for which the quantities issued are not known. 35,000 of #158, 19,000 of #159, and 7,000 of #161 were issued, and Scott '11 prices them unused at $32.50, $32.50, and $125.- , respectively.

I believe that these stamps have been ignored because they are surcharges, and because four of them are surcharged bisects - stamps which have been surcharged and cut in half, which look stupid to beginning collectors. They were issued during a period in which Macao was not widely collected, and at least 80%-90% of the stamps issued were probably used and discarded. There are a number of Scott-listed surcharge varieties of this issue which are much scarcer than the normal stamps, and these are doubly undervalued, in that the premium for the varieties does not reflect their scarcity. The rarest of the bisects (#159C and #160) should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization.

In my opinion, all of the better stamps of the European and other foreign Colonies/Possessions in China should be considered for investment, as they have dual markets both in their former home countries and in China.

In 1999, Macao became a special administrative district of the People's Republic of China. With a population of about 500,000, Macao's economy is dependent upon tourism, much of it geared toward gambling, although important secondary sectors include apparel manufacturing and financial services. Annual GDP growth has been high, averaging over 9% over the last 7 years. The fact that much of Macao's economic growth has been driven by a regional monopoly on gaming is somewhat worrisome, because obviously there is no guarantee that the People's Republic won't relax restrictions on gambling in the rest of China, allowing more competition. Nevertheless, I feel that certain scarce issues of this former colony are grossly undervalued, given the number of collectors who will be bidding for them.

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