Liechtenstein Stamps

What Can Be Done: Philately has its strongest roots in Central Europe. At one time, there were over 20,000,000 stamp collectors in Germany and Switzerland alone. But more than just numbers of collectors, the German speaking peoples approach the hobby with a thoroughness and dedication that is unparalleled in the rest of the world. As part of the Germanic block of countries, Liechtenstein enjoys great popularity and an extensive collector and dealer network.

Liechtenstein came late to stamp issuing. Until the end of WWI, Liechtenstein was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, nominally ruled as a Principality. The Liechtenstein princes retained control of Liechtenstein after WWI, and the first stamps were issued. The early philately of Liechtenstein (before WWI) consists of stamps of Austria used in Liechtenstein post offices and are called Forerunners. They are collected by very specialized philatelists but are not much looked to by most collectors. Having its stamp issues begin in the twentieth century makes Liechtenstein appealing because it means that it issued its stamps when philately was a main stream hobby. This means that, though there are several expensive stamps of Liechtenstein, all of its issues have been for sale to collectors through the Liechtenstein postal agency, and there are no rarities among the major numbers (some of the perforation varieties of the 1930-1950 issues get quite pricey. These varieties were not publicized when they were made by the printer and so are quite rare. But forgeries of these perforation varieties are common, and so collectors should exercise great care when purchasing them).

Liechtenstein has been moderate in its stamp issuing policies. Selling stamps to stamp collectors has always been a large revenue source for the Liechtenstein government. They have been responsible stamp issuers, realizing that, long term, collectors tend to leave new issue services when they are taken advantage of. Liechtenstein stamps are well designed and attractively printed. The airmails are especially popular.

Specialty Albums: Collectors of the stamps of Liechtenstein have a number of good choices for specialized stamp albums. Scott is good, but their albums are very mid-market compared to the best European albums. Scott albums have the advantage of being in Scott number order which is how most American collectors collect. The best album set is Lighthouse, a wonderful specialty album for this country, in three or four volumes, but which is pricey (about $1,000 for the set. Many collectors try to get their albums much cheaper by scouring dealer listings for nice country collections in the specialty albums that they are looking for. Often, when a collection has few stamps, the albums can be bought at bargain prices with the stamps they contain being a virtually free bonus). Lindner and Davo also make nice albums for Liechtenstein.

Specialty Catalogs: Scott is very good for Liechtenstein, especially the Scott Classic for stamps issued before 1940. Michel, the German catalog producer, has a specialized Lichtenstein catalog, and Zumstein, the Swiss catalog publisher, also includes Liechtenstein in its catalog as many collectors of Swiss stamps also add Liechtenstein to their collections. Both of these European catalogs are good. They are published in German but are easy for non-German speakers to use.

Availability of Material: As one of the main collected countries of Central Europe, with a large and active dealer and collector community, virtually all Liechtenstein stamps are readily available.

Expense: When one collects a country like Liechtenstein, which has many dealers carrying its stamps, the quest is not to find the material (as it is in many other philatelic areas) but to find it at the best price. Since it originates as a philatelic entity, the stamps of Liechtenstein have largely gone directly into collector hands, and because of this the quality of the material that is resold on the philatelic market is usually very high. The goal then is to find it at a good price. Liechtenstein is one of those countries where comparative shopping is very important. Because most collectors and dealers of Liechtenstein live in the Euro zone, the price of Liechtenstein stamps is very dependent on the variations of the Euro to the dollar. Smart collectors ramp up their purchases of the Western Europe stamps that they need when the Euro is low.

Overall Grade: B

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