US Stamps

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Index — April 2014

Apr 24, 2014, 2 AM

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 1

Prices for United States stamps in the grade of fine-very fine, the general grade used with this index, moved upward slightly with an increase in 20th-century stamps and a small increase in airmails.

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Market Composite Index increased to 689.5 from its 686.8 level in January. Some of the changes reflect value updates made in the 2015 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1. Condition of stamps continues to remain key.

The index is down 1 percent from the April 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 0.9 percent. Nineteenth-century stamps have decreased by 2.3 percent from the level of April 2013.

Twentieth-century stamp prices increased 2.3 percent, with a slight increase noted for Scott 523. Twentieth-century stamps have shown a 0.2 percent decrease over the past 12 months.

Interest in early airmail issues continues, as airmail stamp values posted an increase of 0.9 percent in April. Airmail prices are up 3.2 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 April was as follows: 19th-century stamps decreased 0.9 percent, moving from 961.1 to 952.3; 20th-century stamps increased 2.3 percent, from 583.6 to 597.2; and airmails increased 0.9 percent, from 344.2 to 347.3. 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.