Stamps As Investment

For the last eighty years, the investment potential of fine collectable stamps has not been lost on the worldwide philatelic community. Numerous references to the elementals of supply and demand and their effect on the burgeoning stamp market are found in English journals in the 1890s, and in American journals not much later. For the last decade, stamps have been an excellent investment medium, with rare United States stamp prices increasing at an average compounded rate of 15 percent. In 1979 the rate was 40 percent. It is difficult to go back and evaluate prices of eighty years ago to see how stamps fared at the turn of the century. For one thing, grading standards were much less strict, and auction catalogues frequently did not grade stamps at all. Thus, we have a record of widely varying prices for the same items. However, just using the Scott catalogue price (which represents the average price of what would be considered a fine specimen of a particular stamp), a broad selection of the most commonly traded scarce United States stamps shows an increase of about 100 between 1900 and 1981. Foreign stamps, at least those from major collected countries, have done as well, and in some cases substantially better. 

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