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.
August 01, 2015 07:37 PMIt didn’t take long for the doom-and-gloomers to weigh in with their prognostications following the July 24 announcement from the American Philatelic Society that it hired former political aide Scott English to be the next executive director of the nation’s largest stamp club. Read More ›
July 30, 2015 08:04 PMIn the Editor’s Insights columns in the July 20 Linn’s Stamp News monthly and the Aug. 10 weekly Linn’s, I mentioned Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board without giving too much detail. Linn’s goal is to engage its audience both in print and online and to grow this audience. The role of the newly formed Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board is to assist us achieving these goals by keeping us focused on the needs of our audience and helping us adapt to today’s market. Read More ›
July 30, 2015 09:01 AMAs in previous years, Rarities Week, the series of sales conducted June 22-26 by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, included several name sales as well as an assortment of notable items from around the world. The week kicked off with something of a do-over: a sizable assortment of better United States stamps and covers that had appeared in four previous sales, but whose winning bidder then failed to pay for them. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 04:35 PMThe Tieton, Wash., post office is a simple 1935 cement block building with a slat wood facade. Townsfolk in the agricultural community of 1,200 in central Washington believe the post office could become a landmark, if only the United States Postal Service would allow them to cover the front with a stamp-like mosaic. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s senior editor Denise McCarty discusses the hiring of a new executive director of the American Philatelic Society, the new Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board and the upcoming APS Stampshow.
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the largest souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card is one of three issued to honor the centenary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke discusses Canada’s recently recalled $1.20 Dinosaur Provincial Park stamps featuring inaccurately described Hoodoo rock formations.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the discovery of another pane of the intentionally created upright variety of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp.
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.