Common Stamps in Superb Condition?!

For many years in the property market is has been said that there are three things that influence prices and will insure investors a good return-location, location, location. Similarly, the unstated emphasis in stamp investment has been quality with the suggestion that only the finest examples of each stamp will be a good investment. This recent decades have proven that belief wrong in the stamp world.

Here is what has happened. In the early years of this decade high quality graded certified material saw a great run up in price. The fetishization of common stamps in “100” graded condition was ridiculous and many common stamps sold for hundreds of times what any sane collector would pay for them. This market has completely collapsed, mainly because few collectors were involved in it in the first place. That market was driven by a west coast philatelic expertization service that liked the fees it was getting expertizing for grade and by a few dealers and coin transplants who knew little about our hobby and cared less. No one mourns the passing of this aspect of quality driven collecting. More importantly though, the interest in highest quality scarcer stamps has fallen off while general interest in collecting has remained stable.

Truth told, interest in Philately is strong as aging baby boomers are returning to the hobby of their youth. But these new collectors are very happy with stamps in the quality grades they aspired to get when they were younger and are very satisfied with Very Fine. We have seen the market at the top end be very weak the last few years while there has been considerable strength at the higher mid levels. Whether the highest quality will again find favor in the furure is a good, speculative question. Personally I hoped things stay as they are. My own view is that stamp collecting is a great hobby but that it loses much of it’s appeal when the quality of the stamp is more important than the stamp itself.

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