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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Nicaragua 1961 Dag Hammarskjold Overprint (Scott #C494-99)

   On September 18, 1961, U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash en route to cease-fire negotiations in the Congo.He is the only person to have been awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize,  and remains the only U.N. Secretary-General to die in office. President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskj√∂ld “the greatest statesman of our century".

   Many countries issued stamps in memory of Hammarskjold, including Nicaragua, which overprinted its 15,000 of its 1958 UNESCO sets (Scott #C424-29) with his name and date of death (Scott #C494-99). Scott '13 prices the unused set at $3.55.


I continue to like the U.N. as a topic, long-term. The market for U.N.-related topicals should grow over the very long haul as institutions of world government develop in order to take on serious (and possibly existential) problems which can only be coped with globally. Despite the present inadequacy, corruption, and ineffectiveness of the U.N., I view its reform and gradual strengthening as a gradual but irresistible trend.

Nicaragua is a poor nation of about 5 1/2 million people, and annual GDP growth of about 3%. It is largely dependent upon agriculture and remittances from Nicaraguans living in other countries. Nevertheless, its government has instituted economic reforms, and important secondary industries, such as tourism, banking, mining, and fisheries, are expanding.

I have begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", which will feature wholesale buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. It includes a buy list for Nicaragua. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.










Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: San Marino 1951 UPU Anniversary Souvenir Sheets (Scott #C62a, C62b)

  In 1950 and '51, San Marino issued airmail stamps and souvenir sheets celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Postal Union and picturing a mail coach (Scott #C62, C62a, C62b). The 1951 varieties (Perf 13 1/2 X 14 and Imperf.- Scott # C62a and C62b) were issued in souvenir sheets of six, with quantities issued of 15,000 and 5,000, respectively. Scott '13 prices them unused at $45.00 ($80.- for NH) and $ 325.00 ($ 500.- for NH) .

   Aside from its appeal to collectors of Italy and Area, the souvenir sheets are also attractive Transportation Topicals.

Despite the fact that stamps of San Marino are mainly sold to collectors to generate income for the country, it is likely that quite a few of the Views sets were used as postage and discarded. The 200 lira high values were pricey for collectors of the time, especially given the state of the Italian economy in the early Post-War years.

San Marino is a state situated on the Italian Peninsula on the eastern side of the Apennine Mountains, with a population of about 30,000.While the country probably does not contain enough collectors to form a significant stamp collecting population, its stamps are popular among collectors of Italy and Area. In addition, San Marino has issued quite a few popular topicals, which has bolstered interest in its stamps.

Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to view the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.
 



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Japan 1949 Moon and Geese Souvenir Sheet (Scott #479a)

  In 1949, Japan issued a souvenir sheet of five stamps picturing the famous "Moon and Geese" print by the artist Hiroshige (Scott #479a). 200,000 of the souvenir sheet were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused sheet at $325.00 ($ 500.-  for NH) .

  Few Japanese were collecting stamps in the early postwar years, as most were poor. It is likely that most of these expensive 40 yen sheets were broken up and used as postage on parcels. It has added appeal as both an Art and Animals/Birds topical, and I recommend it as a conservative investment. Note, however, that these sheets are often found with gum bends or toning, defects which significantly detract from value.

I've no doubt that Japan's economy will  rebound after having been hit by the recent horrific earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster which caused so much devastation. Japan is the third largest economy in the world (after the U.S. and China), and has a large and active stamp collecting community.

Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are welcome to join the "Stampselectors" group and organization page at Facebook. The group and page host lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provide a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.











Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Azerbaijan 2005 Bees Souvenir Sheet (Scott #803)

In 2005, Azerbaijan issued a colorful souvenir sheet featuring bees (Scott #803). Only 25,000 were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused sheet at $ 7.50 . 

The sheet makes an interesting and low-risk speculation based on its appeal as an Animal/Insects topical, and as a bet on the economic growth of Azerbaijan and the development of a stamp market there. This recommendation is consistent with my belief that one of the best ways to play the new and newly resurrected countries of Europe and Asia is to focus on popular topicals with low printings.

Azerbaijan is an oil-rich nation of about 9 million people, which also has significant reserves of natural gas and various minerals. Agriculture and tourism are also important to the Azerbaijani economy. The country shares all the problems of the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its energy resources brighten its long-term prospects. It has begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced. Annual GDP growth has averaged a stellar 16% over the last 5 years, largely based on the frenetic development of the country's oil wealth - an estimated 7 billion barrels of reserves.

Those interested in learning more about investing in stamps are encouraged to read the Philatelic Investment Guide ($5), available on Kindle, and accessible from any computer.   

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Malaya-Malacca 1948 Silver Wedding (Scott #1-2)



The British administered Malaya as a group of protectorates, which included the various sultanates. These were later consolidated into the Federation of Malaya., and ultimately the independent nation of Malaysia in 1963.

In 1948, the Sultanate of Malacca issued a set of two stamps celebrating the Silver Wedding Anniversary of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later known as the Queen Mother (Scott #1-2). 18,889 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $35.40 .

The set has multiple market appeal among collectors of Malaya/Malaysia, British Commonwealth, and British Royal Family topicals. As a popular topic for British Commonwealth collectors, it's hard to beat the Royal Family, with a stick, scepter, or other appropriately heavy object, and banking on such loyalty can pay interest.


With a population of over 28 million, Malaysia is an emerging market nation and the 29th largest economy in the world. It has abundant minerals and petroleum, vast forests, as well as a thriving agricultural sector. Nevertheless, over the last four decades, the Malaysian government has committed the nation to a transition from reliance on mining and agriculture to manufacturing, and is moving to conserve its remaining forests and reforest the overcut areas. The government has recently taken steps to make Malaysia more business-friendly, and the number of Malaysians living in poverty has also decreased. As of 2007, average wages were around $34 per day, up from about $9 per day in 1999. Annual GDP growth has averaged over 5% over the last five years, although the country's economy was hurt by the global financial crisis.

Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to view the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.
 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Falkland Islands 1891-1902 Victoria (Scott #9-18)



The Falkland Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina, is a self-governing territory of the United Kingdom. While Falkland Islanders comprise a tiny but very affluent population of about 3,000, from a philatelic investment perspective, the Falklands are of interest because they appeal to both British Commonwealth and Antarctic territories collectors.

From 1891 through 1902, the Falklands issued a set of eleven stamps (plus varieties) portraying Queen Victoria (Scott #9-18). Only 12,000 sets were issued, and Scott '12 prices the unused set at $ 650.75 . Usually, it's possible to find only single stamps from the set, so I've listed those with printings under 100,000, along with their Scott '13 Catalog Values for unused, below:

- 1892 1/2p Green (Scott #9; CV = $19.00 ; 40,000)
- 1891 1/2p Blue Green (Scott #9a; CV = $27.50 ; 60,000)
- 1894 1p Orange Brown (Scott #11; CV = $100.00 ; 18,000)
- 1902 1p Orange Red (Scott #12; CV = $ 16.00; 60,000)
- 1895 1p Venetian Red (Scott #12a; CV = $32.50 ; 61,980)
- 1896 2p Magenta (Scott #13; CV = $7.00; 73,980)
- 1894 2 1/2p Deep Blue- the key stamp from the set (Scott #14; CV =$275.00; 12,000)
- 1894-98 2 1/2p Ultramarine, various shades (Scott #15,15a,15c,15d ; Total 55,980)
- 1891 2 1/2p Pale Chalky Purple (Scott #15d; CV = $225.00; 40,000)
- 1896 6p Yellow (Scott #16; CV = $50.00 ; 12,000)
- 1892 6p Orange (Scott #16a; CV = $250.00 ; 20,000)
- 1896 9p Pale Vermilion (Scott #17; CV = $50.00 ; 18,000)
- 1896 9p Salmon (Scott #17a; CV = $57.50 ; 19,560)
- 1895 1sh Gray Brown (Scott #18; CV = $ 75.00; 19,980)

I recommend purchase of the set, or better singles from it, in F-VF+ NH, LH, or used condition. Few people were collecting stamps of the Falklands a century ago, and most of these stamps were probably used as postage and discarded.

Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are welcome to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and is also an excellent venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Belgian Congo 1944 Miniature Sheets (Scott #225Note)


  In 1944, the Belgian Government in London (Belgium's government in exile during the Nazi Occupation) issued a set of eight miniature sheets (Scott #225 Note) reproducing designs used in the 1942 set it had issued for the Belgian Congo (Scott #187-206). 6,000 sets of these miniature sheets were issued and distributed to subscribers of Message, a Belgian political journal. Scott '13 values the set of sheets at $800.-  .
I recommend purchase of both of these sets, because they have a potential dual market among collectors of Belgian Colonies and the Congo.Also, the sheets within the set containing stamps with leopard designs are attractive Animal topicals.


With about 66 million people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), is endowed with a vast potential wealth of resources, but has been plagued by wars, corruption, mismanagement, and poverty. Annual GDP growth has been between 6% and 7% over the last 3 years, but little of the new wealth has been distributed amongst the majority of the population, which is extremely poor.


I favor both sets based upon the probable growth in demand for stamps of Belgium and Colonies. Given the economic situation in the D.R.C., I do not feel that a significant stamp market will develop there for at least a decade. If and when the situation in that country substantially improves, however, the increases in value for its better stamps could be quite dramatic.

Those interested in learning more about investing in stamps are encouraged to read the Philatelic Investment Guide ($5), available on Kindle, and accessible from any computer.  






Thursday, March 7, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Panama 1938 U.S. Constitution Anniversary (Scott #317-21, C49-53)

  In 1938, Panama celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution by issuing a compound set of ten stamps (Scott #317-21, C49-53). 10,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $22.45 .

 The set is grossly undervalued, given its potential appeal to U.S. collectors, as well as the fact that many were probably used as postage and discarded. As with all Latin American stamps, there are many collectors who focus on the region as a whole, which supplements demand for the stamps of the individual countries.

A nation of 3.4 million people, Panama is the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America. Panama's economy, because of its key geographic location, is mainly based on a well developed service sector heavily weighted towards banking, commerce, tourism, trading. The handover of the Canal and military installations by the United States has given rise to large construction projects. Tourism has grown rapidly during the past 5 years due to the government offering tax and price discounts to foreign guests and retirees. The country also has valuable copper and gold deposits, which are beginning to be developed. Annual GDP growth has averaged over 7% over the last 5 years.

I have begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", which will feature my buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've just posted a buy list for Panama, including the set and souvenir sheet recommended in this article. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.







Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Saar 1934 Semi-postals (Scott #B47-53)


The Saar is a region of Germany with a checkered history that was marred by two world wars. Following World War I, it was occupied and governed by Britain and France, from 1920 to 1935, under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles. It was returned to Germany following a plebiscite held in 1935. After World War II, the region became a French protectorate until 1955, when a referendum ended French rule and shortly thereafter returned it once again to Germany.

During the Mandate and French Protectorate periods, Saar issued its own stamps, the scarcest of which are of interest from an investment perspective because of their appeal to collectors of Germany and Area and France and Area- two robust philatelic markets.

A number of Saar's semi-postal sets are worthy investments, including the first 1934 set (Scott #B47-53). 38,478 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $89.00. The set is visually attractive, and the praying figure pictured in the 5fr+5fr high value (Scott #B53) qualifies it as a Religion topical.

Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to view the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List, which currently contains over 9,700 entries. Researching quantities issued data is vital to determining in which stamps to invest.