In The Land of Opportunity

The Stamp Man

The Stamp Man

2019-04-21 13:55:11

The inside story on my recent trip to the USA

I trust Anthony looked after you whilst I was away on business in the US.

What I love most about Americans is their “can do” attitude to business. The word “entrepreneur” may originate from France but it belongs to America.

We Brits tend to focus on “what if…” scenarios. What are the risks and what could go wrong with any given idea.

Americans, on the other hand, seem to focus more on “imagine if…” scenarios. What can we do to make this idea a BIG one?

For a miserable Scotsman like myself, I always find their positivity and warm hospitality intoxicating.

You might be wondering what the Stamp Man was doing all the way over the Atlantic in the US.

Let me explain by way of a little story…

Uncle Sam’s story

Sam is a typical middle-class American living in an affluent area on the East Coast of America.

He is a husband, father and an uncle.

He has worked hard all his life and provided a great quality of life for his family.

In the land of opportunity, he has done pretty well for himself. He has a nice healthy pot of money invested for his family’s future and to fund his own retirement.

Despite his wealth, he remains a man of simple pleasures.

His favourite meal is blue crab washed down by an ice cold beer.

He loves his country.

But… he wants some of his hard earned savings to be invested outside of the US.

This seems counter-intuitive to his pride as an American citizen.

Yet, it makes perfect sense to Sam.

You see, a few things worry Sam… 

1. US stocks have been going up for a solid decade 

He is worried this may be about to change. He doesn’t know when things will turn sour in US stocks, but he is old enough to know markets are not one-way bets. 

2. US national debt just exceeded $22 trillion in February 2019 

He hears some financial commentators warning of “the end of the American dream”. They say such incomprehensible levels of debt will lead to hyper-inflation, wiping out the value of his savings.

Sam doesn’t really believe this doomsday scenario will ever happen. But, he thinks it is better safe than sorry so wants to hedge his bets (just a little bit).

So, what does Sam do to achieve this aim?

He buys rare stamps from the Stamp Man.

He also stores his valuable tangible assets with us in our secure storage facilities in the Channel Islands.

Sam is not alone. Many others think like Sam.

Hence, my trip to the US!

What the Americans are buying

In the past year, I have sold more British Empire rare stamps to the US than anywhere else in the world.

The exchange rate has never been more favourable for Americans buying assets from Britain…

12 years ago, buying a stamp for £10,000 would have cost my American clients around $20,000. Today, that price would be approximately $13,000.

That means buying “British Pound” denominated assets are around 35% cheaper today than they were 12 years ago! 

Most of my US clients focus on building a collection of iconic stamps with top condition grades.

In general, grading is considered more important in the US collectibles market. My US clients understand better than most that any premium attached to the finest quality when buying equally applies when selling.

I am proud to help them grow their collections as a “String of Pearls”. With each new stamp complementing the collection and enhancing overall value.

My US clients are also very keen on adding rare stamps from emerging markets to their collections (mainly China, India and Africa). This follows the theme that growing wealth in these areas is resulting in higher prices being realised for their stamps.

If you are interested in getting in on the US action, I have taken the liberty of reproducing a representative sample of similar stamps to those I have sold to the US in recent months.

British Iconic Stamps 

1. A perfect mint example of the world’s first postage stamp, the penny black

Great Britain 1840 1d Black Plate 9 lettered IG, SG2. 

Price: £21,000 ($28,046)

Click here to buy now

Obviously, the world’s first stamp is popular with our US buyers. After all, penny blacks enjoy “celebrity status” and are chased after by collectors all over the world. 

This particular penny black is somewhat special…

It is of a quality grade rarely seen, fresh and mint with full original gum.

This penny black comes from a very difficult printing plate number to find in mint condition.

It is accompanied with an independent certificate of authenticity from Brandon Expertising dated 2002.

This stamp passes all the key tests my US clients look for – high condition grade, iconic status, clear authenticity.

Whenever asked about stamp investment at dinner parties I always say:

“A fine quality mint penny black is the safest investment you could make in stamps”.

This is evidenced from long term price appreciation…

At the turn of the century, SG catalogued this stamp at a price of £4,500. It has therefore grown in value by 367% in the past eighteen years (an average of 20% pa).

2. The King’s Error – the most iconic error of colour in GB philately

Great Britain 1935 Silver Jubilee 2½d Prussian Blue, SG456a.  

Price: £20,000 ($26,710)

Click here to buy now

The Prussian Blue is one of the most iconic stamps from Great Britain, with legendary status amongst collectors. 

This example is of the highest possible condition grade. It is in unused mint condition with full original gum and from the top right-hand corner of the sheet.

Authenticity is assured with the accompanying certificate of authenticity from the British Philatelic Association (BPA).

The 1935 Silver Jubilee stamp was issued to commemorate the 25thanniversary of King George V’s accession to the throne.

King George V selected the colour himself. The printers accidentally printed some sheets in the wrong colour, “Prussian Blue”.

Realising their mistake, they quickly destroyed the erroneous sheets, except for six sheets sent to the Post Office stores for inspection.

The Superintendent Warehouseman was asked to destroy the six sheets apart from a block of four to be retained for reference purposes.

However, a further mistake was made and only two of the sheets were destroyed. The other four were accidentally placed with the correct colour sheets by a busy worker.

As a result, we know that only 480 of these stamps were ever circulated.

To this day, the 2½d Prussian Blue remains one of the rarest and most famous stamps from Great Britain. Quite simply, it should not have been printed.

Due to its rarity and desirability, the value of this stamp as an investment is well proven.

At the turn of the century, you could have bought the stamp I have for you today for £6,500. That’s growth of 208% in the past eighteen years, a period which included some of the most tumultuous times in economic history.

3. The Perfect Stamp

Great Britain King George V 1913 £1 green “seahorse”, SG403  

Price: £4,800 ($6,410)

Click here to buy now

This is a stamp fitting of the label “a work of art”.

It also takes us back in time…

A time when Britain ruled the waves and commanded the largest empire in history.

One noble piece of paper that encapsulated the meaning of being “proud to be British”.

It was first printed on the cusp of World War I.

The stamp depicts Britannia being pulled through the waves by a powerful team of horses, accompanied by a striking portrait of King George V.

The imagery of the stamp made a bold statement to the world. In a way, it was designed as a small piece of propaganda.

Britain remained all-powerful, defiant and in command of the seas at that time of Anglo-German naval tensions.

It also marks a major turning point in history…

Soon Britain would be thrown into the First World War and millions would die in a most horrific period of history. Ultimately, this would mark the beginning of the end of the might of the British Empire.

This history is one of the reasons the Seahorse stamps have an iconic status amongst collectors to this day.

It is also considered the most successful stamp issue of Great Britain, virtue of it being the longest reigning high value stamp issue.

Four contractors were used to print over 100 million of the seahorse stamps (Waterlow & Layton, De La Rue, Bradbury Wilkinson and Waterlow & Sons). 

The large numbers printed mean the Seahorse stamps are not especially rare, but it is a different story when it comes to finding quality examples…

Well-centred mint Seahorse stamps with full original gum are scarce and highly sought after by specialised collectors.

The example I have for you today is the most sought after high value stamp - being the rarer highest value issue, the £1 green printed by Waterlow.

This stamp is in very fine condition being fresh and well centred. It is made even more desirable by the fact it has its full original gum intact.

That means this stamp survived the past 105 years without ever being mounted with a hinge in a collector’s stamp album. Quite remarkable really when you think about it.

It also demonstrates decent investment pedigree, recording growth in value of 140% since the turn of the century (8% pa).

Emerging Market Stamps

4. In China, collecting stamps is cool

China 1894 60th Birthday of the Dowager Empress (first printing), set of 9 to 24ca, SG16/24   

Price: £2,500 ($3,339)

Click here to buy now

At the turn of the century, the Chinese government put in place schemes to encourage schools to start stamp collecting clubs.

Because of this, the average age of a stamp collector in China is much younger than the rest of the world.

In China, collecting stamps is considered “cool”. Building a valuable collection is considered a status symbol.

The Chinese are much more attuned to the benefits of investing in tangible assets. Wealthy Chinese individuals are reported to put 17% of their wealth into art and collectibles on average. This compares to 9% in the US and 7% in the UK.

There are now estimated to be 20 million stamp collectors in China, representing a third of the total number of collectors in the world.

Classic rare stamps continue to be in high demand as Chinese collectors look to reclaim their cultural history.

Today, you have a chance to seize a small part of this history.

This is one of the most famous and popular sets of stamps from China. They were issued in November 1894 to commemorate the 60th birthday of the Dowager Empress of China, Tzu-his.

The Dowager Empress, considered ruthless by many historians, effectively ruled the country as co-regent from 1861. Even today, she is still considered one of the most powerful women in the history of China.

They were the very first commemorative stamps issued by China and the set I have for you is from the first printing of this famous issue.

The set I have is in fine and fresh mint condition with a large part of the original gum remaining. This is rare to find in stamps from China because of the usual damage caused to stamps because of the humid climate in the country.

The Chinese stamp market has been showing considerable growth in recent years as the collecting bug takes hold in the country. Ten years ago, you could have bought this set of stamps for £1,000. That represents growth in value of 150% (15% pa).

5. The hardest stamps to buy in the market

India 1902-11 25r brownish orange and blue, SG147.   

Price: £1,600 ($2,137)

Click here to buy now

I buy as many Indian stamps of this quality as I can get my hands on.

Unfortunately:

  • It is extremely hard to find Indian stamps in fine quality
  • They are in such demand from Indian collectors, it is rare for me to get the chance to buy at below SG catalogue prices, such is the competition

Today, I have a rare chance for you to buy a top quality rarity from India at below SG catalogue price. The catalogue price for this stamp is £1,800. You can secure this stamp today for the discounted price of £1,600 (11% discount).

It is a superb-postally used example of a scarce stamp rarely seen in this quality.

It is also accompanied with a British Philatelic Association (BPA) certificate of authenticity.

Prices of rare stamps from India have been increasing substantially in value. That's as a result of the rising middle class in India with a desire to repatriate their history.

This is evidenced by recent growth in value of this stamp, which is up 146% (15% pa) in the past 10 years.

6. A Unique Stamp from a new emerging market

South Africa 1908-09 Natal 10s green and red/green tied to a piece, SGZ83.   

Price: £800 ($1,068)

Click here to buy now

In recent years, stamp prices from African nations have started to show a strong growth pattern.

Africa has seen rapid population growth in recent years. By 2050, the UN predicts there will be 2.5 billion Africans, representing about a quarter of the global population.

This creates an explosion in the working-age population. These young Africans are better educated than their parents were and have the real chance to accumulate wealth and purchasing power to boost economic growth.

The World Bank estimates that the “demographic dividend” in Africa could add $500 billion per annum to African economies for the next 30 years.

The stamp I have for you is a superb used example with a very fine complete “BRANDFORT/O.R.C” circular date stamp dated “NO 28 10”.

It is the usage which makes this stamp so important. It is believed to be unique as the only recorded example of this stamp used in the Orange River Colony.

It is not often you get the chance to buy a unique item for under £1,000 and I would suggest the value of this stamp has plenty room to grow in the future. Particularly if the African stamp boom continues as it has in the past few years.

The stamp also has strong provenance, once belonging to the much respected collector Thys Rall.

The American Dream

If you want to be part of the American dream in stamp collecting, I would urge you to act now.

I do not have any alternatives which could match these selections, so you will need to place your order before anyone else does to secure them.

This is a great opportunity to add an iconic British stamp to your collection.

Alternatively, you can also take this opportunity to jump on the momentum of the explosive price growth in stamps from emerging economies of China, India and Africa.

You can contact me directly to secure your stamp(s) by emailing me at mike@paulfrasercollectibles.com.

Alternatively, we are always happy to take your call on +44(0)1534 639998.

Thanks for reading.

Kind regards

 

Mike Hall

CEO, Just Collecting

PS. In case you are interested, the cover picture I took during my visit to the US. Do you recognise this famous landmark?##

Enjoyed this email? Then try these:

March 22, 2019: Magnificent Desolation wipes out investors

March 18, 2019: New in for 2019: 5 autographs you need to see 

March 15, 2019: Treasure Islands: philatelic treasures from around the world

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