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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Macao 1898-1903 King Carlos (Scott #75-103)

  Between 1898 and 1903, the Portuguese issued a set of 29 stamps portraying King Carlos for Macao (Scott #75-103). Quantity issued information is not available for this set, but I estimate that 5,000 to 10,000 were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $710.50.

   It is likely that most of these sets were used as postage and discarded.

In my opinion, all of the better stamps of the European and other foreign Colonies/Possessions in China should be considered for investment, as they have dual markets both in their former home countries and in China.

In 1999, Macao became a special administrative district of the People's Republic of China. With a population of about 500,000, Macao's economy is dependent upon tourism, much of it geared toward gambling, although important secondary sectors include apparel manufacturing and financial services. Annual GDP growth has been high, averaging over 9% over the last 7 years. The fact that much of Macao's economic growth has been driven by a regional monopoly on gaming is a little worrisome, because obviously there is no guarantee that the People's Republic won't relax restrictions on gambling in the rest of China, allowing more competition. Nevertheless, I feel that certain scarce issues of this former colony are grossly undervalued, given the number of collectors who will be bidding for them.

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, January 27, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: India 2000 Indepex Asiana Souvenir Sheet (Scott #1863b)

In 2000, India issued a souvenir sheet celebrating the Indepex Asiana Stamp Exhibition, and picturing Indian jewelry (Scott #1863b). 50,000 were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused souvenir sheet at $8.00 .

All Indian souvenir sheets with printings of 100,000 or fewer should be accumulated, with priority given to those issues which have strong thematic appeal. The Indepex Asiana souvenir sheet has obvious appeal as an Art and Gems/Minerals topical and should do very well indeed. India is a rapidly developing nation of over a billion people, and millions of Indian collectors will likely be converted to the insidious cult of Philately over the next decades.

 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.

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, January 24, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Ecuador 1945 Red Cross Issue (Scott #440-43/C131-34)

   In 1945, Ecuador issued a compound set of eight stamps honoring the International Red Cross (Scott #440-43/C131-34). Only 10,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $58.40.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering, without any discrimination based on nationality, race, sex, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. From a philatelic investment perspective, the support of almost 100 million of people for this movement creates a significant collector base for better Red Cross/Red Crescent topicals. This topical appeal, as well as the growth in interest in stamps of Latin America, should bolster the value of this currently inexpensive set.

Ecuador, a democratic republic of 13.6 million people, is considered a medium-income country, with about 38% of its population living below the poverty line. Ecuador's natural resources include petroleum, fish, shrimp, timber and gold. In addition, it has a prosperous agricultural sector, producing bananas, flowers, coffee, cacao, sugar, tropical fruits, palm oil, palm hearts, rice, roses, and corn. While Ecuador's economy suffered during the 2008-09 financial crisis, weathering a default and repurchase of its debt at a discount, it seems to be recovering. Annual GDP growth over the last 5 years has averaged about 5%.

I've begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", which features wholesale buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing, as well as links to other dealers' buy lists.  Viewing such buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Falkland Islands 1921-29 George V (Scott #41-48)

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 1921 through 1929, the Falklands issued a set of eight stamps portraying King George V (Scott #41-48). Only 14,220 were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $174.00 .

I recommend purchase of the set in F-VF+ NH or LH condition. Few people were collecting stamps of the Falklands eighty years ago, and most of the sets were probably used as postage and discarded.

Information concerning printing quantities of stamps is often useful in determining which may turn out to be good investments. The StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List (SSSSQIL) currently includes over 9,700 listings of stamps and souvenir sheets with issuance quantities of 100,000 or less.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phila-Trivia: 1894 Article on Confederate States Stamps

“C.S.A.” (a nom de philatelie) recapped the philatelic history of the Confederate States in a fascinating article that appeared in "The Post Office" for November 1894.

Some Philatelic Memories of Dixie

Few pages in American albums are of more pathetic interest than those containing the adhesives of the “Confederate States.” They mutely tell of a nation born in a day, whose existence has now given place to a mere reminiscence. The inferior mechanical execution of both the provisional and regular series of these stamps is typical of the untried expedients of a people who were suddenly called on to create a full-fledged government. Yet, rarely are stamps more sought after by the average collector, or command better prices. It is not a little remarkable, however, to note the disproportion between the two series. Upwards of sixty varieties were issued independently by the several postmasters during the first year of the struggle, as against only about twenty-five by the Government for the whole five years. These “locals,” as they are termed, were in use but a few months, and had a relatively limited circulation; for the present writer neither saw nor heard of one, that we can now recall, throughout the entire war.

Though a lad at the time, we well remember the first appearance of the regular series. It was in the autumn of 1861, when each mail was eagerly awaited for fresh tidings from the seat of war. The earliest to arrive was the five cent bright green, with the head of the chief of the Confederacy, making a striking contrast to the pale red vignette of Washington, which had so long served all sections of our common fatherland. While waiting for this official series, our letters were mailed partly by the provisionals, but more usually by paying the cash directly at the mailing office. The majority of letters mailed in Dixie this first year of the war will be found to bear the simple written inscription “Paid,” as was the case before the introduction of our national adhesives in 1847. The engraving of this series was very coarse and inartistic, and without perforations, as was indeed the case with all subsequent issues. The next year the green was changed to blue, but as the series was so soon to be superseded, these latter have become the rarer stamps by far. Along with this came a ten-cent value for double postage, in varying shades of blue, which color was also shared with a pinkish red or carmine; but the ten-cent red of this date must have always been a rare stamp, as we can recall very few of them now.

In Mekeel’s weekly Stamp News, of October 11, Mr. H.E. Deats has a communication about the printing of this series, recounting the allegation that the Philadelphia firm of Butler & Carpenter were among the original bidders. But a recent letter from Hon. J.H. Reagan, ex-P.M. General of the Confederacy and now residing in Austin, Texas, informs me that a portion of this series was printed in Philadelphia by a Hebrew firm, though he does not remember the details, as that was the province of his third assistant, Mr. John Harrell, formerly of Montgomery, Ala. Thus, in spire of the indignation of the above firm, there were some other engravers not so insensible to Confederate ducats. Certain it is that the first Confederate money was printed by the National Bank Note Company; so that it is not impossible the first Confederate stamps were set forth near the same locality. The Judge states that the rest of this series was executed in England, where the work continued to be done until the new government was able to do its own printing. This was probably about the close of 1862, as near this date we find such names on the margins of the whole sheets as “Archer and Daly, Bank Note Engravers, Richmond, Va.,” like the similar imprints of Keatinge & Ball, Columbia, S.C., or Walker, Evans & Cogswell, Charleston, on the margins of the Confederate money.

Judge Reagan also informs me that about the close of the war a perforating machine was received from England, but so near the close that it was never used. This may be very ungracious news to those who persist in filling the yawning spaces in their albums devoted to the “five-cent, 1862, perforated,” and the “ten-cent, 1863, perforated,” but it is at least official, and should be final. It may not be without interest to further add that some of the postage stamp dies were carried from Richmond by the authorities when that city was evacuated, but that they were either abandoned by the way, or else fell into the hands of the Federals.

The cost of living enormously increased [in] those early years of the conflict, and the cost of postage followed suit. This five-cent issue was short-lived. It gave place to another one of the same value but much smaller in design. The letter rate going up to ten cents, however, soon made it needful to have one stamp of this value. And so, about the middle of the war, appeared the familiar ten-cent blue, which, like the preceding, bore the face of the Confederacy’s Chieftain, and which was unchanged to the close of the conflict. When first issued, the vignette was a trifle different from the subsequent prints, and the value “Ten” was changed to the numerical “10”; but the unpracticed eye would not likely discern the difference. This former variety, however, is a very rare stamp. Out of a mass of family correspondence covering the five years of the war, I believe but one such stamp was found. In this year also appeared the twenty-cent green. It served as a convenience for double postage, but was never popular. In the used condition it is not common, for the good reason it was rarely used. The two-cent green and the two-cent rose had already appeared, and they were useful for newspaper postage. But for the same reason as that of the rarity of the twenty-cent, so with these. The Confederacy knew not the use of pennies. Less than a five-cent stamp was not likely ever to be asked for, and it was this denomination which carried our second-class matter; not the two-cent or the one. Indeed, most of the post offices never carried any other issue but the five- or ten-cent denomination.

As a sequel to the whole, and as a series decidedly born out of due season, was the batch of the one-cent yellow of 1864. It was executed in England, and reached the Confederacy just at the close of the struggle. Certainly it was a paradox to have set forth such a denomination at such a time. During the last few months of the war we often saw a spool of cotton sell for $100, and at last these same bills were used to wrap up the spools with. A one-cent postage stamp would have been in cold company by that date. However, the series was never used. It may properly be termed the “Confederate Seebeck,” and possesses about as much philatelic value as those interesting emissions.

A complete monograph on these Confederate stamps is much to be desired. Yet we doubt if it will ever be written. We have been this season in active correspondence with Confederate officials, as with the authorities in charge of the Confederate archives in Washington, seeking some tangible data. The quest has not been very encouraging. No one seems to know the date, or the number, or the character of the several series as issued any more positively than is known the year when Homer published his Iliad. To all who have a fascination for esoteric studies, the Confederate adhesives are likely to afford a perennial theme.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Newfoundland 1933 Balbo Flight Surcharge (Scott #C18)

Newfoundland issued several overprinted airmail stamps that served as postage on pioneer flights, which are of great interest to Aviation topicalists,  and include some of the great rarities of Aviation Philately. The rarities are unaffordable for the vast majority of collectors, but the lesser flight overprints are also quite scarce and worthy of consideration as investments.

In July of 1933, Newfoundland surcharged 8,000 of its 75c "Labrador, Land of Gold" airmails issued the month before for use on the Chicago to Rome Flight of General Italo Balbo.  Scott '13 prices the stamp unused at $325.00 ($500.-   for NH).

   I recommend purchase of the stamp in VF NH or LH condition, or used on a flight cover. The stamp is of interest to Aviation topicalists, and possibly also to collectors in Italy, as Balbo was a prominent Fascist and Mussolini's heir apparent. I'm unaware of any fake surcharges for this issue, but as with all valuable overprinted stamps, it might be prudent to obtain expertization as a condition of purchase.

Many of the better stamps of Newfoundland were issued in modest quantities. I intend to revisit them in the future, as I am "doggedly bullish" (to badly mix metaphors) about better British North America in general. This area is very popular among collectors of both Canada and British Commonwealth, and the better items represent solid investments, as interest in stamp collecting in Canada is much stronger than it is in the U.S. .

With a population of about 31 million, Canada is one of the world's wealthiest countries, and is one of the world's top ten trading nations. GDP growth has averaged 2.2% over the past five years, which takes into account the 0% growth of 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Canada's population is expected to age significantly over the next decades. Canadians over 60 are projected to increase from 16.7% of the population in 2000 to 27.9% in 2025, and 30.5% in 2050. Consequently, in the future, many more Canadians will be spending time working on their stamp collections on cold winter days.

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, January 10, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Gabon 1932-33 Scenes (Scott #132-47)

Between 1932 and '33, the French issued a long "scenes" set for Gabon (Scott #132-47). As with many of the sets that they issued for their African colonies, the set was beautifully engraved, and the vast majority were probably used as postage and discarded. 25,000 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices it unused at $224.35 .

The set should do well based upon increasing demand for French Colonies, but it also make an interesting play on Gabon as a developing economy. With a population of 1.5 million, Gabon has a per capita income of four times the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. The low population density together with abundant natural resources and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in the region. Annual GDP growth has averaged just under 3% over the last 5 years.

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, January 6, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Mexico 1929 Emilio Carranza Airmail (Scott #C5-10)

In 1929, Mexico issued a set of six airmail stamps in memory of Captain Emilio Carranza (Scott #C5-10). Carranza was a noted Mexican aviator and national hero, nicknamed the "Lindbergh of Mexico." He was killed when his plane crashed while returning from a historic goodwill flight from Mexico City to the United States. 28,298 sets were issued, and Scott '13 prices the unused set at $29.10 ($75.- for NH) .

The set, issued the year following Carranza's tragic death, has dual appeal to collectors of Mexico and Aviation topicals.

With a population of about 109 million, Mexico has experienced consistent annual GDP growth of between 3 and 5%. It has a diverse and developing economy, but modernization remains a slow and uneven process, and current challenges include addressing income inequality, crime, and corruption, upgrading the infrastructure, and reforming tax and labor laws. Stamps of Mexico are popular among collectors in the U.S. as well as in Mexico, and those who wish to learn more about Mexican stamps should consider joining the Mexico Elmhurst Philatelic Society International (M.E.P.S.I.). MEPSI provides many useful services for collectors of Mexico, including expertizing Mexican stamps.

I've begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", which will feature wholesale buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. The first such buy list is for Mexico, and includes the set recommended in this article. The blog also contains links to other dealers' buy lists. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep current on the vagaries of the stamp market.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stamp Investment Tip: Germany 1912-33 Private and Semi-Official Airmails

      Prior to the issuance of Germany's first official airmail stamps in 1919, airmail stamps were privately issued for mail which was carried on flights by German airships ( or "Zeppelins"). Before 1912, the Germans had developed sophisticated luxury airships, which transported passengers and mail. The stamps issued by the airship companies paid only the carriage fee for the airship company. Letters carried by, or transferred to, the German postal service had to have regular postage stamps affixed to them, as well.

In addition, mail was sometimes carried on pioneer airplane flights. Airplanes of this period were still very experimental and prone to problems. The stamps used on the mail carried by the pioneer airplane flights were issued solely to finance these events and had no postal value. They were issued solely for sale to collectors, and were sometimes affixed to postcards carried on the flights.

The Scott Catalog does not list these stamps because of their unofficial status, though Michel does. Despite the fact that they probably should be considered labels or Cinderellas, they are very popular in Germany and among Aerophilatelists worldwide, and may be seen as interesting relics of the early days of airmail delivery. It is likely that the worldwide interest in the Aerophilately topic will grow more rapidly than the demand for German stamps, and based upon those trends, as well as the low printings of some of these stamps (as noted in the StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List under Germany), I consider them attractive investments.

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.