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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stamp Investment Tip: Puerto Rico 1898 Provisional Issues (Scott #200-201)

During the Spanish American War, U.S. troops landed at Guanica Bay in Puerto Rico, and mail service was established under General Wilson, the acting governor of the conquered territory. Crude provisional stamps were issued at La Playa de Ponce and Coamo in 1898 (Scott #200 and 201).

The Ponce Issue (Scott #200) was a violet 5c handstamp applied to envelopes, while the Coamo Issue (Scott #201) was an imperforate stamp, of which four types exist, as described in Scott. Quantities issued of the Ponce Issue are unknown, but in all probability, fewer than 100 were produced. About 500 of the Coamo stamps were issued. Scott '12 prices the Ponce stamp unused at $7,500.00 , and the Coamo stamps unused at between $ 650.00 and $850.00, and the used stamps between $1,050.00 and $1,350.00, depending upon type. Blocks of four of the Coamo stamps showing all four types exist, as do complete sheets of ten.

These rather boring-looking stamps appeal to collectors of U.S. Possessions, Puerto Rico, and Latin America. They're offered at auction on occasion, and should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization, since dangerous counterfeits exist. Based on the projected growth in demand for U.S. Possessions stamps alone, they may be considered conservative investments. Should demand for stamps of Puerto Rico increase dramatically, then they will outperform this expectation.

With about 3.7 million people, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, with an economy that is one of the most diverse in the Caribbean region. In addition to the island's population, there are also approximately 3.8 million Puerto Ricans living in the Continental U.S.. Services and industrial production have surpassed agriculture as the primary focus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the U.S. and by tax incentives, United States firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income for the island. Due to immense debt problems and problems associated with Puerto Rico's status, annual GDP has actually declined by about 2.5% per year over the last 5 years.

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