Thursday, May 15, 2014
The Niger Coast Protectorate, a territory originally known as the Oil Rivers Protectorate, was a typical colonial "company territory" managed by the Royal Niger Company. The Company controlled the territory's land, resources, and people for the enrichment of its shareholders. It surrendered its charter to the Crown in 1899, and the Protectorate was then incorporated into the two new territories of Northern and Southern Nigeria, which were combined to form the colony of Nigeria in 1914.
During its seven-year existence, the Protectorate issued 63 stamps (plus varieties), including some notable rarities. Among the more affordable and accessible is its first issue, the 1892 Overprints (Scott #1-6), which were created by overprinting some of the stamps from Great Britain's 1887-92 Victoria Issue. Only 6,720 sets were issued, and Scott '14 values the set unused at $155.75. While I usually recommend obtaining expertization on scarce overprinted stamps, in this case doing so is unnecessary because the non-overprinted British stamps are actually more expensive, though far more common.
Stamps of Niger Coast Protectorate have the potential for dual market appeal among collectors of British Commonwealth and Nigeria.
A nation of over 154 million people, Nigeria is an an emerging market country, and is rapidly approaching middle income status, with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, transport sectors, and a stock exchange which is the second largest in Africa. It is the eighth largest exporter of petroleum in the world. GDP growth has averaged almost 6% over the last 5 years. However, the country also has major problems, including corruption, human rights abuses, grossly unequal distribution of income, and internal religious and tribal conflicts.
Based purely on the growth of demand from British Commonwealth collectors, the set represents a conservative investment with little downside risk. Should Nigeria develop even a modest base of stamp collectors, the set will soar.
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.