Stamps Investing

Postage stamps achieved instant popularity almost from their beginning in 1840. This is because they made people aware of far off places about which little was known through small pictures of people and places about whom little was known during years before radios, television or air travel. Collecting stamps sprang up as a spontaneous hobby worldwide and began to be cataloged as early as the 1890s. Hence, early stamp issues have price histories going back 130 years. Their popularity is evidenced by the fact that many stamps were forged back then to accommodate collector demand.

Today we have stamps with a price tag as high as $9.45 million and dozens of others with a six figure price tag. In this respect, stamps are like the art market in that there are relatively few items in this price range. But unlike the art market, there are tens of thousands of items in quantities of 1 to 1000 which sell for $25 to $50,000. The British Guiana 1c magenta is one of the rarest, and most valuable, stamps in the world. Sold in June 2014 at Sotheby's for $9.48 million.

Investing in rare stamps requires a high degree of expertise and can be very risky for the novice. Rare stamps are among the most portable of tangible investments, take up little space but require careful storage as condition is one of the most important factors in determining the value of a stamp. Stamps are not highly correlated with other forms of investment and may therefore represent a valuable diversification within a wider portfolio. Stamps are highly portable stores of wealth and are easily transported over national borders.

There are millions of enthusiastic stamp collectors around the world creating a global marketplace. There is a finite supply of classic stamps. Stamps are not a financial asset and so may perform better than cash in times of high inflation. As a tangible asset, a stamp cannot go out of business like a company quoted on the stock market.

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