The Rise and Rise of the British Empire

The Stamp Man

The Stamp Man

2018-09-30 11:02:18

Rarities from the British Commonwealth and Empire 

Whilst most history books will tell you the story of the rise and fall of the British Empire, the story of stamps from the British Empire paints a different history.

I have just received my copy of the recently published Stanley Gibbons “Commonwealth & British Empire stamps” catalogue.

It makes very interesting reading…

Price increases in the new edition continue to uphold my view that rare quality examples of British Commonwealth & Empire stamps show long term stability and enduring strength as an investment.

I believe this is because the prices of stamps from these countries are mainly influenced by the strength of their respective home economies and the activities of a worldwide base of collectors.

Additionally, the market is benefiting from more overseas buyers purchasing from the UK as they benefit from the current weakness in the pound.

Consequently, the market remains very buoyant in most areas of the British Commonwealth.

We find it very difficult to buy quality examples of rarities from the British Commonwealth & Empire to satisfy the high level of demand from our clients based all over the world.

At auction, we are up against passionate collectors who are willing to pay whatever they have to in order to get the stamp they need to fill the gap in their collection.

Right now, we are selling stamps from the British Commonwealth quicker than we can buy them.

For that reason, you might want to snatch this opportunity to buy some choice rarities I have selected for you. Furthermore, I have selected these stamps with long term investment potential in mind. Their investment merit is, however, a default benefit based on their beauty, desirability, rarity and quality.

Before presenting my recommended Commonwealth stamps to you, I would like to share with you what the Stanley Gibbons catalogue editor, Hugh Jefferies MBE has to say about the market in the latest edition of their catalogue. I think it is well worth listening to.

British Commonwealth & Empire Catalogue Market Update

I have personally known the Stanley Gibbons catalogue editor, Hugh Jefferies for almost two decades.

He was made a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2015 for services to philately. This recognition was much deserved after 50 years service to our hobby. I have always held Hugh in very high esteem and when he talks, I am compelled to listen…

He reports in his preface to the recent edition of the Stanley Gibbons catalogue:

“…the Commonwealth stamp market remains very healthy.”

He then goes on to explain further:

“Ten years of low inflation and low interest rates, not to mention the possible impact of Brexit, seem not to have worried collectors in the slightest, while the current lack of ‘speculation’ in the home market at least, means that prices are being driven entirely by collectors seeking to add to their collections. This is healthy for the hobby and gives confidence for the future.”

I agree that the world of stamps, and what drives their values, is somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. Stamp collectors care little for global macroeconomics. Stamp collecting is a pastime of passion and something to take our mind away from the challenging and unpredictable world we live in.

Looking through the catalogue, some dramatic increases in prices are evident in the Australian States. This is following some major auctions in the past year, where more record prices were realised. The most notable increase is for the Western Australia 4d “Inverted frame” rising from a price of £140,000 to £180,000, 29% up in the past year.

As usual, prices are on the up again for India, probably the biggest growth market in recent years. This market shows no signs of abating anytime soon. 

Interestingly, prices are now starting to show movement for Indian States, an area I have said in the past seems undervalued and due for upward correction. Many stamps in this area are showing double-digit growth in the past year, particularly in Gwalior, Bussahir, Duttia, Morvi and Poonch.

Another strong market is in the Middle East territories. Aden, Bahrain, Bushire and Iraq, especially, stand out. Most spectacularly, every stamp in the Baghdad listing shows price growth on the last edition.

Finally, many errors, plate flaws and watermark varieties are marked up as collectors delve deeper into their chosen country and become more specialised in their philatelic pursuit.

Your chance to get in on the action

To give you the chance to get in to this buoyant market, I have managed to put together 3 portfolios with my choice selections of rare British Commonwealth stamps.

I am pleased with what I have put together for you, particularly because of how difficult it is at the moment to buy into this market at reasonable prices.

I would suggest these portfolios should be of interest to you whether you are interested in diversifying your investments into rare British Commonwealth stamps or if you simply want to add some classic rarities to your collection.

1. Collection Value: £2,020  

This portfolio contains 5 lower value rarities of fine quality. In my opinion, the level of rarity of these stamps is not reflected in their current value.


The key points I would bring to your attention are:

  1. The price of the total collection is £2,020
  2. It has risen in value by 51% since 2007
  3. The catalogue value of the collection is £3,600, meaning your entry price represents a discount of 44% against the current SG catalogue price

This is the perfect entry-level investment if you are looking to dip your toes in to the world of the rising British Empire stamp market.


The stand out set of stamps in the collection for me comes from one of the hottest areas in the stamp market right now:

1938 "CHAMBA STATE" set of 18 to 25r (SG82/99), part to large part original gum. A little heavily hinged in places, with a couple of imperfections (6a thin spot, 10r tiny inclusion).

Still an attractive set with very fresh colours and white gum. Scarce. 

SG Catalogue Price: £1,200

Price: £495 (59% discount)

2. Collection Value (£9,900)  

I have put together a portfolio across a range of Commonwealth countries, which have always been very popular and of interest to a global collector base.

I have focussed my selections on stamps where the quality of the examples is way above the average for the stamp issues concerned.


The key points I would bring to your attention are:

  1. The price of the total collection is £9,900
  2. It has risen in value by 47% since 2007
  3. The catalogue value of the collection is £11,950, meaning your entry price represents a discount of 17% against the current SG catalogue price

This is a beautiful quality collection and encompasses a strong range of collecting areas.


My favourite stamp in this collection comes from an island rich in philatelic history and with a wide and passionate collector base. This particular stamp is in the finest condition I have ever seen:

Mauritius 1859 1d. Dull Vermilion Dardenne Issue, litho on white laid paper, SG42. An exceptional copy with light ‘4’ cancel in blue. 

The 1d. value is particularly difficult when of this quality. Accompanied by certificates of authenticity from the British Philatelic Association (BPA) and Diena.

Price: £1,750

3. Collection Value (£49,900) 

My final selection contains 10 important rarities, which I believe TICK ALL THE BOXES, and are:

  • Key rarities
  • Of high quality in terms of condition
  • With a history of long term consistent and stable price appreciation
  • In areas of the stamp market which have always shown high levels of demand with a large number of passionate participants
  • Available to purchase at a substantial discount to market value

The level of rarity of the stamps in the collection make it a collection almost impossible to reproduce.


The key points I would bring to your attention are:

  1. The price of the total collection is £49,900
  2. It has shown growth in value of 78% since 2007
  3. The catalogue value of the collection is £98,650, meaning your entry price represents a discount of 49% against the current SG catalogue price

The collection brings together key philatelic rarities and, as a whole, provides valuable diversification in different collecting areas and interest groups. I would suggest this collection would make a strong buy and hold investment for the long term.


I could not possibly pick my favourite in this collection as each and every one of these philatelic rarities is precious to me. These classics of philately are so rare I may never get the opportunity to handle any of them again.

However, if I was pushed to recommend my top investment tip in the collection, I would probably go for this extremely rare vertical imperforate error pair:

 British Solomon Islands 1907 6d chocolate 'large canoe', vertical pair, error imperforate between, large part original gum with very fresh colour, SG6a.

Plated as R3-4/2 on the sheet with diagnostic flaws. Minor gum soaking on top perforations, still fine for this major rarity.

SG Catalogue Price: £7,000

Price: £5,500 (21% discount)

How to secure your piece of the British Empire 

To secure any of the 3 British Commonwealth & Empire collections, email today.

Alternatively, you can call us on +44(0)1534 639998.

I will let you know straight away whether you have been successful in securing your chosen collection.

Previous experience suggests that the collections may sell quickly, so do come back to me as soon as you can, to ensure you are successful.

I look forward to hearing from you and helping you build your own Empire (of stamps)!

Kind regards

Mike Hall


PS. Attention Overseas Buyers:

Thanks to the current weakness of the British Pound because of economic uncertainties surrounding Brexit, you are effectively buying at a discount TODAY.

The illustration below for a buyer in the US shows how:

Current exchange rate: 1 British Pound = 1.3 US Dollar

5-year average exchange rate: 1 British Pound = 1.45 US Dollar

Take the collection priced at £9,900. This can be yours TODAY for $12,870. Based on the 5-year average exchange rate, the average cost is $14,355. That works out at an effective 10% discount thanks to the current exchange rate.

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