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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Zululand 1888-93 Victoria (Scott #1-10)

  I'm initiating coverage of Zululand by recommending its first set (Scott #1-10). The set was produced by overprinting stamps from Great Britain's 1887-92 Victoria issue. 3,701 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices it unused at $555.50. If purchased unused, it's not necessary to obtain expertization, since none of the individual stamps within the set are significantly more expensive than the basic British one.

   The British colony of Zululand issued 24 stamps (not including varieties) between 1888-1896, and all are worthy of consideration as investments. In 1897, Zululand was annexed to Natal, which in turn was integrated into the Union of South Africa in 1910.

    The main sources of demand for stamps of Zululand are British Commonwealth collectors and collectors of South Africa and States, both of which I view as growing markets. A recent Price Waterhouse report projects that South Africa will be one of the world's fastest growing economies over the next 40 years.

   As a a middle-income country of about 49 million, South Africa has an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the top twenty in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the entire region. South Africa is ranked 25th in the world in terms of GDP. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 2.5% over the past 5 years.

However, the country has a two-tiered economy- one rivaling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure, similar to a Third World nation. Unemployment is extremely high and income inequality is approximately equal to Brazil. Also, there is an 18% HIV infection rate among South African adults, among the highest in the world.

  Given the somewhat mixed picture that South Africa presents, I feel that better stamps from the country and its related issuing entities should be viewed mainly as conservative plays on the growth of British Commonwealth collecting. I am hopeful that over time, most of South Africa's worst problems will be ameliorated or solved, but whether that will require years or decades is an open question.

  Those interested in viewing a list of scarce stamps with printing quantities of 100,000 or fewer may wish to check out 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.  

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