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The Rise and Rise of the 1840 2d Blue
The 1840 Twopenny Blue
It may seem unrealistic to many people in the present economic climate to talk about massive investment returns but the 1840 Twopenny Blue is one stamp that has gained value hand over fist in recent years. In 1998 Stanley Gibbons valued an unused 1840 2d Blue stamp at £5,500. Fast forward ten years to 2008 and they value the same unused stamp at £27,000. That's nearly five times the original valuation in just ten years.
While this valuation is specific to top quality, unused examples of the stamp, collectors the world over will realise that Stanley Gibbons' valuations are widely used as benchmarks to guide collectors and dealers when they buy and sell British stamps. So, if someone valued a stamp at 50% of catalogue value in 1998, they will probably still value the same stamp at around 50% of catalogue value in 2008.
The growth in this stamp's SG catalogue valuation equates to a fraction under 17.5% compound growth rate over the full ten years with all income reinvested. Now many people may say that a stamp that acquires that kind of rapid valuation growth has perhaps seen it's best days as an investment opportunity for a while and they may well be correct. I certainly don't know. But it does highlight the potential of classic, top quality and rare postage stamps as an alternative investment vehicle. The problem is choosing the stamps that will see these kind of extraordinary growth figures.
Having been following the values attributed to British stamps for more years than I care to remember now, there are some basic factors that tend to isolate the real winners. Assuming we are not talking about errors or some other kind of "freakish" stamp, it is the items which bring together unquestioned rarity, the best possible quality and then feature among the most popular era's for collectors of British stamps which seem to have been the most predictable winners. In my opinion, like the 1840 2d Blue, the British stamps of Queen Victoria's reign have been outperforming most others and are likely to continue doing so in future.
My reasoning for this opinion is simple. Stamp collecting didn't take off as a mainstream hobby immediately after 1840. It took time to get established and gather momentum. For many years it was appreciated more by youngsters than adults (as with most new trends and fashions). It wasn't really until King George V came along - himself a stamp collector - that the hobby truly took off around the world and dealers and investors began to acquire stocks of mint stamps for more than just regular postage use. Common sense therefore tells me that unused stamps from the time of Queen Victoria and in to the reign of King Edward VII are going to become ever increasingly hard to find in future and the basic market forces of supply and demand will continue to determine what we have to pay for these stamps.
So, while I make no claims to be a financial advisor or fortune teller - and I am only offering my personal opinion here - I find it difficult to see the rarer, top quality Victorian British stamps proving anything but a good buy if they are acquired at competitive prices today.
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