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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stamp Investment Tip: Syria 1920 Postage Dues (Scott #J5-8)

I'm initiating coverage of Syria by going straight to the "back of the book"- with the 1920 Postage Due set issued under French Occupation (Scott #J5-8). Only 7,000 sets were issued, and Scott '11 prices the unused set at $14.50.

It's likely that most of these stamps were used and discarded. The attraction of all better Syrian stamps issued by the French is that they have dual market appeal to collectors of Syria and French Colonies. As with many back-of-book issues, the Dues set has been overly neglected because of its relative obscurity.

It is unclear how the current turmoil in Syria will be resolved. Nevertheless, there are many scarce issues from the French period which should do well based on the growth of French Colonies/Area collecting alone. Should the country wind up with a more democratic government and more fully compete in the global marketplace, all of the stamps of Syria with low printings will skyrocket, including many of the modern issues with printings of 50,000 or fewer, which are dirt-cheap.

The Syrian Arab Republic, a nation of 22.5 million people, is a middle-income country, with an economy based on agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism. It has low rates of foreign investment, and low levels of industrial and agricultural productivity. Until the recent revolt, the somewhat corrupt and authoritarian government was slowly reforming its centrally planned economy in hopes of attracting new investment in the tourism, natural gas, and service sectors. Average annual GDP growth was a little over 4%, but the extent to which that growth benefited the population as a whole was unclear.

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