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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Cape of Good Hope Vryburg Issues (Scott #N1-8)

During the Boer War, provisional stamps (Scott #N1-8) were issued in Vryburg, a town in the Cape of Good Hope, which was occupied in 1899 by the Boers, and in 1900 by the British. The Boer issues (Scott #N1-4) range in value from $ 240.- to $2,500.- for unused and $95.- to 600.- for used (by Scott '11), are extremely scarce to rare, and as they are overprints, they require expertization. The British Occupation issues (Scott #N5-8) are rare to extremely rare, and unaffordable to most collectors.

I view all of the better stamps of the Boer War period from the Cape of Good Hope and the related issuing entities of South Africa as good investments, as they have dual market appeal to collectors of British Commonwealth and South Africa.

As a a middle-income country of about 49 million, South Africa has an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the top twenty in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centres throughout the entire region. South Africa is ranked 25th in the world in terms of GDP. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4% over the past 5 years.

However, the country has a two-tiered economy- one rivaling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure, similar to a Third World nation. Unemployment is extremely high and income inequality is approximately equal to Brazil. Also, there is an 18% HIV infection rate among South African adults, among the highest in the world.

Given the somewhat mixed picture that South Africa presents, I feel that better stamps from the country and its related issuing entities should be viewed mainly as conservative plays on the growth of British Commonwealth collecting. I am hopeful that over time, most of South Africa's worst problems will be ameliorated or solved, but whether that will require years or decades is an open question.

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