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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Norway 1922-23 Postage Dues (Scott #J7-12)

In 1922 and '23, Norway issued a set of postage due stamps, slightly different in design from the earlier issue of 1889-1914 in that they were inscribed "a betale" (Scott #J7-12). Only 45,000 sets were issued, and Scott '11 values the unused set at $137.50 ($412.50 for NH).

Since these were just plain old boring postage due stamps, it is very likely that the vast majority were simply used and discarded. Scarce postage due issues from countries with good prospects often prove to be sleepers for this very reason. Nobody cares about dull, utilitarian back-of-book stamps until a significant stamp market develops for a particular country, and then stamp collectors realize that the last pages of their albums are starving, and need to be fed.

A Michel-listed Pale Blue color variety of the 40 ore stamp exists (Mi. #10b), of which only 1,700 were issued. The normal Deep Blue stamp catalogs at $12.- for unused in Scott ($37 for NH), whereas the 2009-10 Michel Catalog values the variety, unused, at 300.- Euros . Keep an eye out for the variety, as it's quite possible you'll stumble on it listed and priced as the normal stamp by an unsophisticated dealer who has not ventured beyond Planet Scott. I'd advise purchasing the variety conditional on getting it expertized should you buy it on a more saintly basis, so as to avoid getting stuck with a bleached-out chemical changeling of the normal stamp.
But if you happen to stumble upon the variety legitimately used on an envelope in a dealer's cheap cover box, then I suggest that you buy a bunch of worthless covers along with it to camouflage your find. Legally exploiting a stamp dealer's ignorance can be alot of fun, but sometimes requires a little finesse.

With just under 5 million people, Norway is one of the most prosperous nations in the world due in part to huge reserves of oil and natural gas, and has a high population of "serious" stamp collectors, on par with other northern European nations. Scandinavia is often collected as a region, and is popular among collectors in Europe and the U.S., which, incidentally, has about 12 million Scandinavian Americans.

Those interested in joining a community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group provides an excellent venue for trading, and a forum for discussion of topics related to philatelic investing and the practical aspects of stamp collecting.

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