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Six Philatelic Predictions & Tips for 2012

By Geoff Winterton

So here's my current list of six predictions for 2012 where I will try to buy a few scarcer and more unusual items to tuck away:

1) Hardly an inspirational prediction but it's impossible not to see the Olympic Games making a few headlines in the philatelic world and I will be looking out for some oddball philatelic covers produced in small numbers. I wont buy standard Royal Mail First Day Covers - not even for the short notice GB Gold Medal Winners stamps - because, fun as many collectors may find them, they're just not a sensible investment. I may not always buy collectables with prospects of profit in mind, but I certainly don't buy things which will most likely lose value rapidly. My tip? Keep an eye on the Society of Olympic Collectors website as they have already produced some interesting covers during the build up to London 2012 produced in sensible limited numbers and regularly check the London 2012 Olympics online auctions for the more unusual items that will prove scarce in future.

2) April 2012 sees the centenary of the Titanic sinking. Still ranked as one of the worst ever peacetime maritime disasters, the story of the Titanic is a popular collecting theme that will almost certainly receive a huge media boost around the time of the anniversary. I will look to produce a few items of my own for this anniversary as there are some obvious angles in terms of postmarks to use. Is it worth noting that Titanic was an Olympic class steamship? has produced 100 Titanic postcards for collectors who want to arrange their own stamp and postmark combinations on a very limited edition postcard.

3) My third choice is far more speculative and one for the aerophilately fans. While it wouldn't be a popular move with the public, the continuing economic climate may well force the government to revisit defence budgets looking for more savings and - following the tragic year 2011 has been for the Red Arrows who sadly lost two of their pilots in accidents - I fear the axe may well fall on the RAF Aerobatic Display Team in the not too distant future. I stress this is pure speculation on my part but I'm going to start tucking away a few scarcer Red Arrows covers and other memorabilia.

4) My next prediction is perhaps controversial as Post & Go stamps currently polarise GB stamp collectors. Some argue they are "not stamps" and symptomatic of Royal Mail's overkill on new issues whereas I share the alternative view that they represent technological progress and innovation which has always driven the evolution of Britain's postage stamps. Once upon a time there were no perforations. Once upon a time there were no commemorative stamps. Within my lifetime the Post Office was producing two sets of visually identical stamps for years where one had phosphor bands applied. So, for me, now the technology exists it makes perfect business sense for Royal Mail to design stamps where the actual service required is overprinted at the point of sale. Post & Go stamps are an efficient concept and therefore, in my humble view, they're here to stay and will soon be fully embraced by GB philatelists.

Four new issues of pictorial Post & Go stamps are scheduled for February, April, May and September 2012. Three of these issues will feature farm animals (Sheep, pigs and cattle) and the May issue - the last before the Olympics - will feature the Union Flag. My specific tip for Post & Go stamp collecting in 2012? I will continue to buy new issues and collect covers - particularly commercially used - but will still look to acquire more examples of the first four pictorial issues from 2011. However, my strongest tip is to tuck away a few sets of the Arnold Machin Centenary Post & go stamps issued during this year's Autumn Stampex. There was only very short notice given about their availability, they were ony produced during Stampex, they were the first truly commemorative Post & Go stamps and - according to publicity I've seen from Rushstamps - less than 3,000 sets were sold which is a tiny number in philatelic terms.

5) 2012 will also see the UK celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and this will undoubtedly trigger a deluge of philatelic offerings. Looking back at previous Royal events it will probably be best to ignore the high volume offerings from Royal Mail and focus effort and attention on producing and buying more unusual items focused, perhaps, on relevant postmarks.

6) For my last tip for 2012 I will simply list some notable centenaries that aren't being marked by Royal Mail stamp issues. Perhaps one or two of these may inspire readers to think about producing their own covers with relevant postmarks...

  • January 4th 1912 saw The Scout Association incorporated throughout the British Empire by Royal Charter.
  • January 17th 1912 was the date the British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four of his team team reached the South Pole. Alas they were second!
  • April 16th 1912 was the day Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly over the English Channel. She died later in 1912 on July 1st when she and a passenger somehow fell out of an aircraft flying at 1,500 feet.
  • May 13th 1912 marked the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps which evolved to become the Royal Air Force.
  • June 23rd 1912 saw the birth of Alan Turing the British mathematician and codebreaking genius. I assume Bletchley Park Post Office will be planning something!
  • June 24th 1912 was also the birthday of Brian Johnston, the British cricket commentator.
  • On August 20th 1912 William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, passed away.

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