US Market Testing

Each month I bid on United States lots at five or six major American and overseas auctions. I bid on a small variety of nineteenth century, twentieth century and back of the book items. I don’t do this because we need the stamps or to make a profit reselling what I buy. I do it to test the market and to see how broad based any market strength and weakness may be. It’s one thing to know what the prices are at your own sale, but any market evaluation must be more broad based than that. Over the last few months we have seen great price stabilization, and small increases, in our auctions. There is more activity in all segments of the market after the recession, which is now officially over, but which still has lingering effects on stamp sales. Especially strong are mint nineteenth century stamps and we have noted a number of large Chinese buyers of US stamps emerging. My bidding at other auctions has confirmed what we are seeing in ours. New collectors are entering the market and demand for US stamps is strong overseas. In my set of bids last week, we bought very few singles and those we did came in at our top price. That means two things-first that the market is poised to show months of strength and, second, that Apfelbaum prices and realization are a bit lower now relative to where they will be soon and relative to our replacement costs for new material.

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