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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: El Salvador 1937 Plane Over Panchimalco Church (Scott #C54-60)

  In 1937, El Salvador issued a set of seven airmail stamps picturing a plane over Panchimalco Church (Scott #C54-60). Built in 1725, the church is the oldest surviving colonial structure in El Salvador.15,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $7.40.

   The set has multiple market appeal among collectors of El Salvador, Latin America, and Religion topicals.

Over the last decade or so, a "stealth bull market" has developed for better Latin American material, especially for scarce issues with wide topical appeal. Supplies have been gradually depleted, and many items which formerly retailed for about 20%-30% of Scott are now selling for 60%-80%, and their catalog values have substantially increased as well. Frequently, Michel Values, which are usually much higher than Scott for Latin America, are used by auction houses when listing this material. As the region has cast aside its authoritarian dictatorships and become more democratic, it has experienced healthy economic growth and the concurrent development of a middle class.

El Salvador, a nation of 5.7 million, is a poor though steadily developing economy, which has experienced annual GDP growth averaging just over 1% over the last 5 years. There has been a recent deceleration in economic growth due to the global financial crisis. In addition, there are between 500,000 and 1 million Salvadorans in the U.S., most of whom immigrated during El Salvador's "Dirty War" of 1979-92. Salvadorans in the United States are among the hardest-working immigrants, and send about $800 million back to their families in El Salvador every year. Although Salvadoran Americans currently toil in the lowest-paying sectors of the American economy, they work long hours, save a great deal, and are gradually becoming more prosperous.

While I believe it may take a while for a significant stamp collecting population to develop among Salvadorans, this is mitigated by the fact that many collectors of Latin American stamps collect the region generally, rather than specializing in a particular country.

I have begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", featuring my buy lists for stamps which I wish to purchase, including many items from El Salvador .Periodically viewing dealers' buy lists is an excellent way to remained informed about the state of the stamp market.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Gibraltar 1889 Surcharge (Scott #22-28)

In 1889, the British issued a set of seven surcharged stamps for Gibraltar (Scott #22-28). Only 12,400 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $251.75 .

Gibraltar remains a British overseas territory, with about 30,000 inhabitants. Gibraltar's economy is dominated by four main sectors – financial services, internet gaming, shipping and tourism, and while it is robust, its population is probably too small to host a significant stamp collecting community. Gibraltar's stamps are popular among British Commonwealth collectors, and the better items should do well based upon the growth of that market.

Though I often recommend obtaining expertization when buying stamps with overprints, in this case, expertization is not necessary, since there isn't a significant difference between the value of the basic stamps and that of the surcharged set.

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.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Azerbaijan 2007 Polar Bear Souvenir Sheets (Scott #860a, 861)

In 2007, Azerbaijan issued two souvenir sheets picturing Polar Bears (Scott #860a, 861). 10,000 of the first and 30,000 of the second were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused sheets at $ 15.00 and $ 6.00, respectively.

The topic selection is a bit asinine, since Polar Bears are not native to Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, these sheets make interesting and low-risk speculations based on their appeal as Animal topicals, and as  bets 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, May 19, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Paraguay 1961 Independence Anniversary (Scott #594-97, C291-93)

 In 1961, Paraguay issued a compound set of  eight stamps in celebration of 150 years of Independence (Scott #595-97, C291-93). The regular issues pictured a Puma, while the airmails pictured a South American Tapir. 20,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $15.50 .

The booklet has dual market appeal among collectors of Paraguay and Animal topicals, the most popular thematic category. Furthermore, demand is enhanced for all Latin American material by the tendency of collectors to focus on the region in general.

With about 6 1/2 million people, Paraguay is an emerging market nation with the potential to become a major agricultural exporter. Its subtropical climate allows for 5 harvests every 24 months, and it has vast tracts of virgin arable land. In addition, manufacturing has shown strong growth in the production of edible oils, garments, organic sugar, meat processing, and steel. Annual GDP growth has averaged 4.5% over the past 5 years, and was steadily increasing until it experienced a recent slight decline due to the global financial crisis.

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 Paraguay, including the 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.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Aitutaki 1917-20 Overprint (Scott #19-27)

Aitutaki, one of the Cook Islands, was administered by New Zealand from 1901 through 1965. From 1917-20, New Zealand issued a set of stamps for the island by overprinting nine stamps from its 1915-22 George V set (Scott #19-27). 17,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $36.65.

While the populations of Aitutaki (about 2,000) and the Cook Islands (about 20,000) are too low to sustain much of a stamp collecting population, there is significant demand for their 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.

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, May 12, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Falkland Islands 1929-31 George V (Scott #54-64)

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 1929-31,  the Falklands issued a set of eleven stamps portraying King George V (Scott #54-64). 8,400 of the 1 pound high value were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $797.40. #64 alone cats. at $350.-.

I recommend purchase of either the complete set or the high value, in F-VF or better, NH, LH. These were pricey stamps at the time that they were in use, especially during the Great Depression. Most 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 page at Facebook. The page hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and is an excellent venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Qatar 1964 Tokyo Olympics Overprint (Scott #37-41)

  In 1964, Qatar overprinted five stamps from its 1961 set, to honor Olympics held that year in Tokyo (Scott #37-41). 16,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $56.50 .

   The set has dual market appeal among collectors of Qatar and Sports/Olympics topicalists. Note that although I often recommend buying scarce overprinted issues conditional on obtaining expertization, it's not necessary for this issue, which isn't significantly more valuable than the basic, non-overprinted stamps.

   With a population of 1.4 million, Qatar has experienced rapid economic growth over the last five years, with annual GDP growth averaging 9%. The country has 15 billion barrels of oil reserves and natural gas reserves estimated at between 80 trillion to 800 trillion cubic feet - enough energy reserves to make every Qatari a centimillionaire or billionaire. Gilding the gilded lily, Qatar is also funding the development of a "knowledge economy," establishing the Qatar Science and Technology Park and Education City. It has also established Doha Sports City, and plans to build an "entertainment city" in the future, in case Qataris become bored with their other leisure activities, such as collecting stamps.

   Those interested in being part of a community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are welcome to join the Facebook "Stampselectors" group, which currently has over 2,300 members.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: British Guiana 1934 Scenes (Scott #210-22)

  In 1934, British Guiana issued a set of thirteen stamps featuring scenes of the colony (Scott #210-22). 26,400 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $137.35 (275.- for NH) .

This issue represents a conservative investment based on the projected growth in popularity of British Commonwealth stamps. Should a significant stamp-collecting population develop in Guyana, the set will be given an added boost.

   A nation of about 750,000, Guyana has a medium level of economic development, which is mid-way between the affluent countries of Europe and North America and the countries that are the poorest and most deprived.Its dominant industries are agriculture, mining, and fishing. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4.5% over the past 5 years.

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, May 2, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Latvia 2002 Winter Olympics booklet (Scott #546a)

In 2002, Latvia issued a stamp honoring the Winter Olympics stamp (Scott #546), along with a booklet (Scott #546a). Only 5,000 of the booklet were issued, and Scott '13 prices it unused at $15.00 .

The booklet has multiple market appeal among collector of Latvia, Baltic States, and Sports/Olympics. Demand is enhanced for all Baltic States material due to the tendency of collectors to focus on the region in general.

A nation of 2.2 million people, Latvia has diverse industries which include the production of synthetic fibers, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, radios, electronics, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles, and timber. The centrally planned system of the Soviet period was replaced with a structure based on free-market principles. Riga, the capital, emerged as a regional financial and commercial center, which initially benefited the country but left it exposed to the worldwide economic tsunami which hit the banking sector in 2008. Until the onset of the global financial crisis, Latvia had the fastest growing economy in Europe. Over the last 5 years, annual GDP growth has been flat, reflecting a 4.6% contraction in 2008 and an 18% disembowelment in 2009. Over the last four years, the economy has begun to recover.

Those interested in becoming part of a community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are welcome to join the Facebook "Stampselectors" group, which currently has over 1,600 members.