US Stamps

Market trends reflected in catalog values; classic stamps up, most modern down

Apr 21, 2014, 2 AM

Vol. 1 of the 2015 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue has been available for purchase for about a month, and I am happy to report that sales have been brisk.

The From the Scott Editors column in the April 21 Linn’s provided a brief summary of the valuing and editing work that was accomplished.

This week, I would like to expand a bit and highlight some additional findings from the Scott editors’ efforts.

If one were to examine Scott catalog value trends that have emerged during the past five years or so, the pattern would look something like this.

Stamps of the classic period are increasing in value, modern stamps from the 1930s through the 1980s or so are showing gentle declines in value, and values for more recent stamps (mid-1990s to the present) are trending upward.

For most countries the editors reviewed, value increases tend to be concentrated among stamps from the classic period of philately. The classic period begins with the world’s first postage stamp, Great Britain’s Penny Black of 1840, and continues through the first decade or so of the 20th century.

Value increases are robust for stamps in true very fine condition, which often can be difficult to locate. For example, the United States 1857 3¢ rose Washington stamps (Scott 25 and 25A) each rise in value unused, a reflection of the challenge finding these stamps in VF condition.

For most modern U.S. postage stamps, values are holding steady. Two noticeable exceptions are the 9¢ Capitol Dome stamps from booklet panes: Scott 1590, from booklet pane No. 1623a and 1590A, from No. 1623Bc.

These stamps are now valued used at $20 and $50, respectively. A new footnote states that values apply only to stamps with contemporaneous cancels.

In modern issues, values are flat or down modestly.

For the Bahamas, the Scott editors recorded more than 900 value changes. Aside from scattered increases among classic-era stamps, values show declines.

In many countries, values begin to rise for stamps issued during the past decade or so, a trend the Scott editors began noticing almost five years ago.

The various surcharged stamps and stamps of Dahomey surcharged for use in Benin increase in value. The surcharged 2008 200-franc-on-250fr Benin Coat of Arms (Scott 1461), rockets from $4.25 mint, never hinged and used in the 2014 catalog, to $60 mint and $35 used in the 2015 edition.

The editors sometimes have difficulty obtaining an accurate picture of the market for certain countries. This was the case for Bolivia in the 2015 Vol. 1.

While some dealer price lists track Scott values for Bolivia rather closely, other sellers’ retail prices are noticeably higher than Scott.

When a mixed picture such as this presents itself, Scott’s practice is to proceed with caution.

As such, just under 200 value changes were made, and these are concentrated almost exclusively among stamps issued during 2007-12.

Publication of the remaining 2015 Scott catalogs will continue through November, when the 2015 Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 is released.