Washington Bicentennials

The Washington Bicentennial set is over 80 years old. Issued to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the first President’s birth, the set was issued on January 1, 1932. It has always been a popular set and has more or less been the breaking point between modern and classic US philately. Stamp issues before 1932 include the Washington-Franklins, the early Bureau issues, Bank Notes, and nineteenth century issues.  All of these are difficult specialized stamps. After 1932, US philately is far more face different than it was before. By 1932, philately was enjoying similar popularity to what it enjoys today, and mint stamps were put away is large quantities. Because of this, the price per mint stamp or set in the post-1932 period is far less than it is for stamps before this, and the postage value of the stamp represents a far higher percentage of the selling price than it does on earlier stamps. Without really knowing why, many collectors pause when they get back to the Washington Bicentennial issue. They are not comfortable paying high prices for individual stamps and either begin to collect used, find another country to collect (or begin to collect plate blocks or First day Covers), or find another hobby.

As the set that defines the break between two philatelic eras, the Washington Bicentennial set has always been very popular. It is relatively inexpensive and usually found in nice quality. Going forward it might be a good set to put away as it has some investment potential. Here’s why: There really are no large dealer stocks of mint stamps anymore. Years ago, many dealers maintained stocks far in excess of their sales needs for two main reasons. First, as lifetime dealers they had seen stamps rise in price with many stamps that had been common in their youth become very pricey. They had faith in the long term potential of stamps because they had lived it and saw it at work. And second, as their stocks had been accumulated over many years, the cost basis of their vast mint US stocks was very low. These dealers didn’t want to cash out because they didn’t want to pay the taxes. The stamp market has been stable for so long that most of the old time dealer stocks have been disseminated mostly because of the retirements of these old dealers. This means that when demand for an item suddenly increases it is difficult to find supply to satisfy this demand so that prices can go up very quickly.
And go up they will for Washington Bicentennial set. 2032 marks the three-hundredth anniversary of the birth of George Washington and the hundredth anniversary of the commemorative set. It is easy to believe that there will be substantial philatelic promotions as this will be the first time a national centenary and a philatelic centenary for a President line up like this. Stamp promoters will start looking for quantities of Washington Bicentennial sets several years before 2032. It is still a bit early, but over the next ten years if you can quietly assemble a quantity of this issue you won’t regret it. 
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