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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Portugal 1945 Navigators Souvenir Sheet (Scott #649a)

In 1945, Portugal issued a souvenir sheet honoring its famous navigators (Scott #649a). 50,000 of the souvenir sheet were issued, and Scott '14 prices it unused at $32.50 ($47.50 for NH) .

  The souvenir sheet should do well as it appeals to topicalists collecting either Famous Individuals or Nautical subjects, and it also represents a bet on  Portugal's eventual recovery from the European financial crisis.

   Note that many of Portugal's souvenir sheets from this period were issued on thin paper, and many of them have bends or creases. When purchasing one, ascertain that the sheet is free of these defects.

A nation of 10.6 million people, Portugal is a high income mixed economy, and its major industries include agriculture, fishing, mining, tourism, automobile production , electronics, textiles, and chemicals. The Financial Crisis of 2008 is still affecting the Portuguese economy severely, causing a wide range of domestic problems specifically related to the levels of public deficit in the economy, as well as the excessive debt levels. Portugal's average annual GDP growth over the past 5 years has been flat, reflecting economic contractions in 2009 (2.9%) and 2011 (1.6%).

The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a forum for discussing stamp auctions, and it also offers advice to stamp auction bidders and consignors to assist them in their dealings with stamp auctioneers. All stamp collectors and dealers are welcome to join.    

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Colombia 1944 Cundinamarca Issue (Scott #508-12, 513)

  In 1944, Colombia issued a set and souvenir sheet honoring a charitable organization - the General Benevolent Association of Cundinamarca (Scott #508-12, 513). 10,000 of each were issued, and Scott '14 values them unused at $22.50 and $35.00,  respectively.

   I consider both the set and the souvenir sheet extremely undervalued. They represent  very low-risk investments in the economic growth of Colombia, the growth of its stamp collecting community, and the increasing interest in Latin American stamps in general.

   A nation of 45 million people, Colombia has been plagued by decades of serious internal armed conflict, drug trafficking, corruption, and gross inequities of income, but has nevertheless racked up impressive annual GDP growth averaging 5.5% over the last 5 years. Moreover, until the global financial fiasco cut its GDP growth to 3% in 2009, it had been steadily accelerating, from 2% in 2003 to 8% in 2008. Recently, the government, armed to the teeth by the U.S., has applied a dual policy of combining military pressure with negotiations to cope with the various guerrilla factions within the country. This seems to have worked to some extent, as the number of insurgents has been halved, and the number of homicides and kidnappings drastically reduced. While some argue that the Colombian government is still utterly corrupt, and has violated human rights and supported paramilitary death squads in order to achieve relative peace, it may be that this is par for the course, given the nation's history. A dialogue between the Colombian government and guerrillas of the FARC-EP began in 2012 with the aim to find a political solution to the armed conflict. The Colombian government and rebel groups met in Cuba, and as of November 2013, the talks have been promising. The Government also began a process of assistance and reparation for victims of conflict.The main challenge that the country faces will be that of sharing more of the wealth with the majority of the population so as to develop more of a middle class and political center. Otherwise, it will devolve into a violent, unstable mess.

"The Stamp Specialist" blog features my buy prices for stamps which I am interested in purchasing. I've posted a buy list for Colombia. Viewing dealers' buy lists every now and then is an excellent way to keep up with the vagaries of the stamp market.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: New Guinea 1931 Airmail Overprint (Scott #C1-13)

In 1931, New Guinea issued its first airmail by applying a pictorial overprint to its1925-28 Native Huts issue (Scott #C1-13). A total of 4,020 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused set at $311.70.

While it's often wise to purchase expensive overprinted stamps conditional on obtaining expertization, such caution is unnecessary because in this case  the basic non-overprinted set is actually more expensive.

Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by the rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for most of the population of about 7 million. Annual GDP growth has increased dramatically over the last 5 years, from 1% in 2005 to about 7% in 2009. Still, the majority of the population is extremely poor, and I do not foresee the development of a significant collecting population within the country for some time.

Most of the collectors of Papua New Guinea are British Commonwealth collectors or Australians, because the country was administered by Australia until 1975 and maintains close ties with that nation. I recommend purchase of the better stamps of Papua, New Guinea, and Papua New Guinea based on the probable growth in interest among Australian collectors and collectors of British Commonwealth.

Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.   

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Kuwait 1959 Scenes (Scott #140-52)

  In 1959, Kuwait, then a British protectorate, issued an attractive engraved set of thirteen stamps with scenes related to its oil industry (Scott #140-52). 51,658 sets were issued, and Scott '14 prices an unused set at $ 54.45 . It is likely that most were used as postage and discarded.

   The set appeals to both collectors of Kuwait and British Commonwealth.

A country of just under 3 million people, Kuwait is the 5th richest country in the world, with proven oil reserves of 104 billion barrels, and annual GDP growth of just under 6%. It is also developing its other major industries, which include shipping, construction, cement, water desalination, construction materials and financial services.

There are a number of scarce and undervalued issues from the Gulf States which I view as bargains. Assuming that these countries can maintain their economic growth, diversify away from their current near-total dependence on oil revenues, and avoid internal political instability or military conflicts with their neighbors, their better stamps should all do well.

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.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Cuba 1961 Declaration of Havana Souvenir Sheet (Scott # C221a)


In 1961, Cuba issued a set and souvenir sheet portraying the Cuban revolutionary hero Jose Marti, and commemorating the Declaration of Havana (Scott #221a).  30,000 were issued, and Scott '14 prices the unused sheet at $15.00.

 This souvenir sheet should do very well when Cuba rejoins the crassly commercial, capitalist world, perhaps retaining a bit of a socialist safety net to keep the masses complacent. It will also benefit from the long-term stealth bull market in better Latin American sets, which began around twenty years ago after the region's oligarchical dictatorships went out of style.

   I believe it inevitable that Cuba will join the fold of more-or-less free nations, and that tourism and trade will explode as a result. Currently, the average wage of each of the 11 1/2 million people living in this "socialist utopia" is under $20 per month, and GDP per capita is 107th in the world. Annual GDP growth has been high, averaging 4.5% over the last 5 years, but given the levels of corruption and favoritism shown to high ranking Communist Party members, it's an open question whether much of that new wealth has been filtering downward. Eventually, something will have to give. The current market for Cuban stamps, especially of the Pre-Castro Period, is bolstered by interest of stamp collectors within Cuban-American community, currently about 1.6 million strong, and far wealthier than their compatriots on the island. Interest in Cuban stamps is likely to increase, especially given the likely prospect of a replacement of the stale, "gerontocratic" regime within a decade or so.

  The Stamp Specialist  features my buy lists for stamps which I wish to purchase, including some Cuban stamps. Periodically viewing dealers' buy lists is an excellent way to remained informed about the state of the stamp market.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Hungary 1938 Eucharistic Congress Souvenir Sheet (Scott #B94)

 In 1938, Hungary issued a semi-postal souvenir sheet honoring the Eucharistic Congress, which was held that year in Budapest (Scott #B94). 100,000 were issued, and Scott '14  prices the unused souvenir sheet at $50.00.

  The souvenir sheet has obvious appeal as a Religion/Christianity topical, and should also profit from Hungary's future economic growth.

While recent economic reversals in Europe have hurt the stamp market there, I feel that for most of the countries, the situation is unpleasant but short-term. In the meantime, there are opportunities to pick up bargains, and scarce items with topical appeal are worth considering.

After a difficult transition from a centrally-controlled economy to capitalism, Hungary has experienced moderate economic growth until it was impacted by the 2008-09 financial crisis. As a result of the global financial mess, GDP growth has been almost flat over the past five years. As the newest member of the European Union, this nation of 10 million receives nearly a third of all direct investment flowing into Eastern Europe. Agriculture, metallurgy and mining, and tourism are major components of the economy.

  The Stamp Auction Bidders and Consignors Union (SABACU) is a forum for discussing stamp auctions, and represents the interests of stamp auction bidders and consignors in their dealings with stamp auctioneers. All stamp collectors and dealers are welcome to join.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: South Korea 1956 3rd Inauguration of Syngman Rhee Presentation Sheets (Michel Block 98-99, Scott #228Note)

  From 1948 to 1958, South Korea issued presentation sheets featuring the designs of its regular postage stamps. These ungummed, often crudely produced sheets were issued  in very low quantities and given to dignitaries, including friends of the President, as the country was not completely devoid of cronyism. The Michel catalog lists these sheets, but Scott does not, although it mentions them. They frequently sell at auction for between 10% and 20% of Michel, and I consider them grossly undervalued due to the uncertainty about their legitimacy. They were issued during a period of war and the gradual recovery from it, when the country was very poor, and they are as scarce as hen's teeth. Despite the fact that Scott only notes Korean presentation sheets generally and doesn't list them individually, thereby implicitly questioning their legitimacy, they're so scarce and their potential market so large that they represent interesting and low-risk investments.

   In 1955, South Korea issued a set of two presentation sheets celebrating the President Syngman Rhee's 3rd Inauguration (Michel Block 98-99). 1,000 sets were issued, and Michel prices the set at 700.- Euros (about $ 950.-). I recommend purchase of the set if it offered at around $95.- to $190.- (about 10%-20% of Michel CV).

  A nation of about 50 million people, South Korea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Currently, it is the world's 13th largest economy and eighth largest exporter. It's export-fueled economic growth has led to a miraculous explosion in its GDP, from almost nothing 50 years ago to about $1 trillion today. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4% over the last 5 years, reflecting a slowdown in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, South Korea may be the most rapidly aging nation on earth, as its 65+ population is expected to more than quadruple from 9% in 2005 to 38% in 2050. Obviously, this could pose economic challenges for the country, but it will almost certainly add to its stamp collecting population.

  Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are encouraged to join the "Stampselectors" group at Facebook. The group hosts lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and provides a useful venue for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.   

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stamp Investment Tip: Kazakhstan 2010 World Football Cup (Scott #620 )

   In 2010, Kazakhstan issued a stamp honoring the World Football Cup competition, held in South Africa that year (Scott # 620 ). 30,000 stamps were issued, and Scott '15 prices the unused stamp at $4.50    .  

The stamp makes an interesting and very low-risk speculation based on its appeal as a Sports/Soccer opical, and as a bet on the economic growth of Kazakhstan 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. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, with a following of billions of fans, many of whom live in emerging market nations. Philatelic investors who focus on better Soccer topicals will almost certainly score a goal financially.

A nation of 16 million, Kazakhstan is known to many outsiders from the somewhat demeaning film comedy "Borat." It is the 9th largest country in the world, with a territory greater than that of Western Europe, although its population density is less than 15 per square mile. Kazakhstan has plentiful reserves of oil, natural gas, uranium, chromium, lead, zinc, manganese, coal, iron, and gold. It also has a major agricultural sector, and is the seventh largest producer of grain. Annual GDP growth has averaged over 5% over the last 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.