Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index - July 2014

Compiled by the staff of Linn's Stamp News

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index first appeared in the issue of Jan. 3, 1983. Beginning in the issue of July 4, 1983, the composite index was extended back to 1970, with percentage changes converted to an index arbitrarily set at 100 for 1970. The principles used in the construction and presentation of Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index are the same principles used in developing other widely followed indexes, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index (the large chart above and the detail chart) is a weighted average of the three graphs at the right, with 19th century and 20th century each counted twice. ©2014 by Linn’s Stamp News, Box 29, Sidney, OH 45365.

Prices for United States stamps in the grade of fine-very fine, the general grade used with this index, remained fairly steady over the last three months, with a minimal decrease noted.

The Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Composite Index decreased to 687.6 from its 689.5 level in April. Some of the changes continue to reflect value updates that were made in Vol. 1 of the 2015 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue.

Stamp condition continues to remain key.

The index is down 0.7 percent from the July 2013 level. These indexes are primarily based on the values of fine-very fine stamps, while Scott catalog values are based on VF stamps. When you buy, use the illustrated guide to stamp grading included in the introduction to the Scott catalog.

Prices for 19th-century U.S. stamps decreased by 0.3 percent. Nineteenth-century stamp prices have decreased by 1.8 percent from the level of July 2013.

Twentieth-century stamp prices decreased very slightly, by 0.1 percent. Twentieth-century stamps have shown a 0.3 percent increase over the past 12 months.

Interest in early airmail issues continues, though airmail stamp values posted a slight decrease of 0.6 percent in July. Airmail prices are still up 2 percent from last year.

Any collector satisfied with average centering or slightly faulty stamps should be able to buy them at substantial reductions from Scott catalog levels for sound VF stamps. For accurately described and graded stamps, collectors should expect to pay a substantial percentage of Scott value for F-VF centering, about 70 percent to 85 percent of Scott value (less for most modern issues), and full Scott retail value for VF centering. Collectors desiring superbly centered stamps in sound condition — mint or used — should expect to pay, in some cases, a substantial multiple of Scott value. The Scott Stamp Values U.S. Specialized by Grade,which is published in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, provides guidance.

The specific movement of prices in the component index groups in July was as follows: 19th-century stamps decreased 0.3 percent, moving from 952.3 to 949.7; 20th-century stamps decreased 0.8 percent, from 597.2 to 596.7; and airmails decreased 0.6 percent, from 347.3 to 345.3.

The three component charts have separate scales.

These averages are based on current retail prices for component stamps (shown by Scott numbers in the inset for each chart) in the condition in which they are most commonly bought and sold.

Collectors should always remember that average or defective stamps will invariably sell for less, and extremely fine or better stamps will sell for more. The trend line for these stamps might vary greatly from that shown in Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index.

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index is normally published quarterly and represents a weighted average of three different component groups.

Each group reflects the average change in prices for each of its component stamps or sets. The component stamps in each group — 19th century, 20th century and airmails — were chosen based on their popularity and available pricing information. Some singles and sets not represented in each group invariably perform better or poorer on average.

Published 7/23/2014 2:10 PM