Linn's U.S. Stamp Market Index - JANUARY 2014

By Linn's Stamp News staff

Compiled by the staff of Linn’s Stamp News

Prices for United States stamps in the grade of fine-very fine, the general grade used with this index, moved downward slightly with a decrease in two indexes and a small increase in another.

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Composite Index decreased to 686.8 from its 689.5 level in October. Some of the changes continue to reflect value updates made in the 2014 Scott Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers.

The index is down 1.8 percent from the October 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, with slight value declines noted for Scott 1. Nineteenth-century stamps have decreased by 1.9 percent from the level of January 2013.

Twentieth-century stamp prices went down 0.8 percent, with a drop in value noted for a couple stamps. Twentieth-century stamps have shown a 2.8 percent decrease over the past 12 months.

Interest in early airmail issues continues, as airmail stamp values posted an increase of 0.8 percent in January. Airmail prices are up 2.7 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 January was as follows: 19th-century stamps decreased 0.3 percent, moving from 964.3 to 961.1; 20th-century stamps decreased 0.8 percent, from 588.5 to 583.6; and airmails increased 0.7 percent, from 341.8 to 344.3. 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.