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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stamp Investment Tip: Cook Islands 1919 Maori Surcharge (Scott #48-60)

In 1919, New Zealand surcharged thirteen stamps of its 1909-19 issues for use in its dependency, the Cook Islands (Scott #48-60). To facilitate use of the stamps by the native islanders, the surcharge utilized Cook Islands Maori language, also known as Rarotongan, or Te reo Ipukarea, literally "the language of the Ancestral Homeland." The set is commonly known as the "Polynesian Surcharge Issue", although this is imprecise, since there are some 40 Polynesian languages. 20,000 sets were issued, and Scott '12 prices it unused at $27.90.

The engraved stamps of this set (Scott #53-57, 59-60) were produced with two different perf. sizes per sheet, perf. 14X14 1/2 and 14 x 13 1/2, and pairs and blocks of four containing examples with both perf sizes are desirable.

The set should do well based on their appeal to British Commonwealth collectors and demand from New Zealand.

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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