Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: South West Africa 1923 George V (Scott #13-15)

In 1923, South West Africa (then administered by South Africa as a League of Nations Mandate territory) issued a set of high values picturing George V (Scott #13-15). Like South African stamps of the period, these were issued as bilingual pairs, with one stamp of each pair in English and the other in Afrikaans, and this is also the favored format for collecting them. Only 2,400 sets were issued, and Scott '11 prices the unused set at $1,875.- .

The main sources of demand for stamps of South West Africa are British Commonwealth collectors and collectors of South Africa, both of which I view as growing markets. S.W.A. has been replaced by the Republic of Namibia, independent following the dismantling of South Africa's Apartheid regime. It is closely tied to South Africa, and has similar problems and potential for economic growth, but also has a much smaller population (about 2 million). Accordingly, the country analysis for stamps of South West Africa should focus on South Africa's prospects.

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 centres throughout the entire region. South Africa is ranked 25th in the world in terms of GDP. Annual GDP growth has averaged about 4% 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.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Belgium 1932 Cardinal Mercier Issue (Scott #B114-22)

In 1932, Belgium issued a semi-postal set honoring Cardinal Mercier (Scott #B114-22). A hero of World War I, Mercier staunchly resisted the occupation of Belgium and issued a pastoral letter condemning German atrocities. 25,509 sets were issued, and Scott '11 values it unused at $573.85.

This is an attractive Religion topical and one of the key semi-postal sets of Belgium. I view it as a conservative investment.

With a population of just under 11 million, Belgium is the world's 15th largest trading nation. Highly industrialized, educated, and affluent, Belgium has a sizable, vibrant stamp collecting community comparable to those of its Northern European neighbors. GDP growth has averaged only 1.2% over the last 5 years, reflecting a 3% contraction in 2010. Like most of Europe, the country was hit very hard by the global financial crisis, and is now in recovery mode.

Notes that the set exists with a privately produced black overprint "Braine-L'alleud 17-7-33 Collegio Card. Mercier." 4,700 sets were overprinted, and it is noted by Scott.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stamp Investment Tip: Netherlands Indies 1912-40 Wilhelmina (Scott #101-36)

Between 1912 and 1940, the Netherlands Indies issued a long set picturing Queen Wilhelmina (Scott #101-136). Only 20,000 were issued, and Scott '11 prices the set at $ 128.55 for unused, and $16.90 for used. In all probability, at least 85%-95% of these stamps were used and discarded, and given the fact that the set was issued over 28 years, locating sound complete sets, whether NH, LH, or used may prove a challenge. I consider this issue grossly undervalued, as it has dual appeal among collectors of Netherlands and Colonies, and Indonesia.

Note that some of the low and middle values of this set were printed with water-soluble ink. Do not soak any of these stamps in water, as it will result in much of the design disappearng, along with the stamp's value.

With about 16.6 million people, the Netherlands is the 16th largest economy in the world, and its annual GDP growth has averaged about 2.5% over the last 5 years. Indonesia is a rapidly developing, though still poor, country of 230 million people, with an annual GDP growth rate hovering around 5%-6%. Like most emerging market nations, it faces challenges which will have to be addressed, including corruption and major inequities in the distribution of income.

I have begun a new blog, "The Stamp Specialist", featuring my buy lists for stamps which I wish to purchase, including the set recommended in this article.Periodically viewing dealers' buy lists
is an excellent way to remained informed about the state of the stamp market.



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