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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stamp Investment Tip: Cook Islands 1898-1900 Wrybill (Scott #15-24)

From 1898 to 1900, the Cook Islands issued a set of definitives picturing a Wrybill (Scott #15-24), the only species of bird in the world with a beak which is bent sideways. In addition, a set of the 2 1/2p through 1sh values on thin toned paper was also issued (Scott #19a-24a). 17,480 of the normal and 6,960 of the toned paper sets were issued. Scott '11 prices the normal set at $212.-. The toned paper set sells for about the same price, despite its relative scarcity.

I recommend purchase of both, and it would not surprise me if fewer than 10% of the original quantity issued of either remain, in any condition. Demand for it might even be enhanced by its crude illustration of a weird bird, which could appeal to Bird/Animal topicalists.

While the population of the Cook Islands (about 20,000) is probably too low to sustain much of a stamp collecting population, there is significant demand for its stamps among collectors of British Commonwealth in general and in New Zealand in particular, because the islands were a dependency of New Zealand for many years, and still have strong links to that nation.

New Zealand is a modern, prosperous nation of about 4.3 million people, with a GDP of $115 billion. Over the last 10 years, annual GDP growth has averaged about 3%. The economy was hurt by the recent global financial crisis, and is beginning to recover. In 2005, the World Bank praised New Zealand as being the most business-friendly nation in the world. The nation has a stamp collecting demographic similar to Great Britain's, and the demand for better material should increase dramatically as population aging accelerates. The percentage of New Zealanders aged 60 and over will rise from 18% in 2009 to 29% in 2050.

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