Stamps have been in the news a fair bit of late.
The June 17 sale of the famed 1856 1¢ Magenta of British Guiana generated much excitement and gave stamp collecting some great visibility across the media spectrum.
In the days leading up to the sale, I and others speculated about who the buyer might be.
Perhaps the new owner would be a noncollector or an investor looking for another place to park a significant sum of money.
As it turned out, the buyer is an anonymous stamp collector who has promised that the unique stamp will be shown in public once again.
Both before and after the sale, I read articles discussing stamps as an investment vehicle.
The 1¢ Magenta provided a convenient backdrop to these discussions, because of its inherent rarity and fascinating history.
Nonetheless, it troubles me when stamps are pushed as an investment, rather than as a hobby to be enjoyed and savored.
It is my firm belief that stamp collecting is best pursued as a hobby, not as a means to a brighter financial future.
Several months ago, I made this very point in an Accredited Investor Markets article published online May 8.
AIM was exploring antiques and collectibles as investment vehicles, and I was asked to provide some perspective on stamps.
When I was queried for advice regarding stamps in the world of investment, I replied: “The first piece of sound advice would be to collect stamps because you enjoy it — not because you want to invest with the idea that you’ll eventually sell your collection for more than you paid for it. While there are exceptions, the vast majority of people in the stamp collecting world do it because they love the hobby.”
Those words still ring true with me.
During my interview with AIM, I emphasized the collectible objects themselves and the stories behind them.
A couple of days after the 1¢ Magenta sale, on June 19, a hobby colleague of mine sent me a link to an online article from Market Watch titled “Why stamps are bond king Bill Gross’s favorite investment.”
In that piece, author Nicholas Vardy states that “Gross has spent reportedly between $50 million and $100 million buying stamps. That’s not an insignificant chunk of his $2.2 billion fortune.”
Bill Gross, as many collectors know, has been a great benefactor of the hobby for many years. Among other things, he provided the seed money for the gallery named in his honor at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. The William H. Gross Stamp Gallery opened to much fanfare Sept. 22, 2013.
Is it possible to sell your collection and get more than you paid for it?
Yes, it is. Gross has done so using the same financial acumen and market analysis that he is widely known for.
While stamps might be Gross’ “favorite investment,” they should not be yours.
It is critically important to remember that financial gain when it comes time to sell one’s collection is the exception, not the rule.
Very few of us have the time, talent and interest to accomplish what Gross has with his stamp collections.
A much better approach is to remember what attracted you to this great hobby in the first place.
Recall that cherished relative or friend who introduced you to the delights of collecting small bits of paper that capture in miniature so much of the world around us.
Do you still have your first stamp album?
If you do, pull it off the shelf, turn the pages and relish some of those early memories.
The payback you will receive will far exceed any possible gain measured in dollars and cents.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.