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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Batum - A General Overview

Batum First Stamps - the 1919 Tree Issue
   Batum, or Batumi,  is a seaside city on the Black Sea coast and capital of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. The city was under Russian rule at the beginning of World War I, but local unrest led to Turkey entering the city in April 1918, followed by the British in December. The British stayed until July of 1920, and issued sixty-five stamps during their occupation of the city.

   Unfortunately, the most valuable stamps of Batum are surcharges on Russian stamps and fakes abound, making it a minefield for collectors. Consequently, there are only fifteen of these stamps which are pricey enough to justify purchasing conditional on obtaining expertization from the Royal Philatelic Society of London (RPSL) or British Philatelic Association (BPA). They're listed below, along quantities issued and Scott '14 values for unused:

1919 10r on 5k Claret (on Russia Sc. #77) - Scott #9; 350 issued; $ 950.-    
1919 10r on 10k on 7k Light Blue (on Russia #117) - #10; 314 issued; $ 975.-
Batum Scott #12
1919 35k on 4k Carmine (on Russia #76) - #11 - 79 issued; $ 1,950.-
1919 35k on 4k Dull Red (on Russia #91) - #12 (the key stamp of Batum) - 46 issued; $6,500.-
1919-20 50r on 10k Dark Blue (on Russia #79) - #25; 400 issued: $ 975.-
1919-20 50r on 2k Green (on Russia #120) - #26; 300 issued; $ 975.-
1919-20 50r on 2k Green (on Russia #74) - #27; 700 issued; $ 975.-
1919-20 50r on 3k Red (on Russia #75) - #28; 691 issued; $ 1,700.-
1919-20 50r on 4k Carmine (on Russia #76) - #29; 750 issued; $ 1,500.-
1919-20 50r on 5k Claret (on Russia #77) - #30; 920 issued; $ 975.-
1919-20 50r on 10k Dark Blue (on Russia #79) - #31; 180 issued; $ 2,250.-
1919-20 50r on 15k Red Brown and Blue (on Russia #81) - #32; 300 issued; $ 700.-
1919-20 50r on 2k Green (on Russia #120) - #47; 400 issued; $ 975.-
1919-20 50r on 3k Red (on Russia #121) - #48; 359 issued; $ 975.-
1919-20 50r on 5k Claret (on Russia #123) - # 49; 120 issued; $ 1,500.-

   While attempting to purchase authentic and valuable stamps of Batum may be a possible source of headaches for some, they have potential multiple market appeal among collectors of British Commonwealth, Russia, and Georgia. Recently, the city began issuing stamps of its own (flashy topicals pandering to the collector market), although as yet, Scott doesn't recognize these issues.

   Batumi (population approximately 180,000) serves as an important port and a commercial center. It is situated in a subtropical zone, rich in agricultural produce such as citrus fruit and tea. While industries of the city include shipbuilding, food processing, and light manufacturing, most of its economy revolves around tourism.

  With a population of about 4.5 million, the Republic of Georgia suffered severe damage to its economy due due to civil strife in the 1990s. With the help of the IMF and World Bank, it has made substantial economic gains since 2000, achieving robust  growth and curtailing inflation. Georgia has a sizable hydroelectric capacity, a factor that has become an increasingly important component of its energy supplies and policies. The country’s topography and abundance of hydro resources give it serious potential to dominate hydroelectric markets in the Caucasus region. Agriculture and tourism have also been principal economic sectors. Annual GDP growth has averaged just under 5% over the past 5 years.

Those interested in learning about investing in stamps should read the Guide to Philatelic Investing ($5), available on Kindle and easily accessible from any computer.   

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