Since 1950, Canada has seen a 90 per cent increase in stamp issues

Up until 1950, Canada had only issued 297 stamps; however, since that time, Canada has issued 2,507 stamps—an increase of nearly 90 per cent, and at a rate of one issue every 9.5 days.

This according to a May 3 Forbes column authored by Richard Lehmann, publisher of the Forbes/Lehmann Income Securities Advisor newsletter and a long-time investor in stamps.

“This month I have done a study of new stamp issuance by the philatelic agencies worldwide in order to determine whether the flood of such issuance is a help or a hindrance,” writes Lehmann. “What is clear to us all is that stamp issuance since 1950 has been more about marketing to collectors than issuing stamps for postal need.”

According to Lehmann, 88.7 per cent of the stamps released by the 202 current active issuers were issued since 1950.

“Now you know why the Scott Catalogue for 2017 will come out in 12 volumes. While some may say, so what, there are serious unintended consequences.”

The results of his recent stamp study, which was sourced from the 2016 Scott Catalogue, are listed below (in order of the amount of new stamps issued since 1950, with Canada highlighted in bold).

Country Issues through 1950 Issues since 1950 Percentage increase since 1950 Issue rate (in days)
Great Britain 280 7972 96.6 3.0
Russia 1512 6036 80.0 3.9
St. Vincent 173 5596 97.0 4.2
Korea (North) 33 5212 99.3 4.6
Cuba 452 5095 91.9 4.7
Romania 740 4779 86.6 5.0
Guyana 4371 94.6 5.4
People’s Republic of China 84 4231 80.8 5.6
Japan 502 4126 91.1 5.8
Australia 228 4167 94.8 5.7
France 642 4086 86.4 5.8
Bulgaria 634 4052 86.5 5.9
U.S. 997 4038 80.2 5.9
Spain 137 3947 96.6 6.0
Grenada 160 3858 96.0 6.2
Poland 494 3665 88.1 6.5
Viet Nam 63 3539 98.2 6.7
Gambia 151 3502 95.9 6.8
Hungary 900 3476 79.4 6.8
Republic of China 1031 3182 75.5 7.5
Czechoslovakia 454 3155 87.4 7.5
Maldive Islands 27 3114 99.1 7.6
Philippines 552 3016 84.5 7.9
Sierra Leone 193 3014 94.0 7.9
Portugal 725 2941 80.2 8.1
Ghana 2825 95.0 8.4
Mongolia 90 2819 96.9 8.4
Argentina 508 2797 84.6 8.5
Sweden 49 2730 98.2 8.7
Italy 552 2695 83.0 8.8
Dominica 119 2688 95.8 8.8
Mozambique 330 2674 89.0 8.9
Liberia 328 2653 89.0 9.0
Thailand 275 2615 90.5 9.1
Brazil 694 2588 78.9 9.2
Monaco 245 2551 91.2 9.3
Paraguay 478 2531 84.1 9.4
Canada 297 2507 89.4 9.5
Albania 486 2483 83.6 9.6
India 229 2464 91.5 9.6
Turkey 1035 2444 70.3 9.7
St. Thomas & Prince Isl 353 2355 87.0 10.1
Cambodia 2346 100.0 10.1
Belgium 401 2330 85.3 10.2
New Zealand 274 2311 89.4 10.3
United Nations 2311 100.0 10.3
Korea 114 2310 95.3 10.3
Guinea 2278 100.0 10.4
Jordan 249 2196   88.7 10.8
Iran 940 2169 69.8 11.0
Germany 669 2150 76.3 11.1
Greece 531 2129 80.0 11.2
Uganda 78 2072 96.4 11.5
Mexico 857 2067 70.7 11.5
Indonesia 352 2046 85.3 11.6
Israel 42 2011 98.0 11.8
Austria 538 1994 78.8 11.9
Switzerland 390 1973 83.5 12.0
Uruguay 569 1972 77.6 12.0

FOCUSED ON GROWTH

In the column, Lehmann writes the “philatelic industry is once again focused on how to grow our hobby, perhaps this time with a more determined focus.” He argues this increased focus is a response to the decline in the number of collectors—something he says is nearing “an inflection point from which recovery becomes less likely”—in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Lehmann says there are efforts being spearheaded by the American Philatelic Society as well as the American Stamp Dealers Association, and he will be use his Forbes column to present ideas for debate and research “in hopes of finding some solutions.”

NEGATIVES & POSITIVES

“The rise in new issuance volume is mainly directed at topical collectors and has, no doubt increased their numbers,” writes Lehmann, adding the negative effects may outweigh the aforementioned positive effect of an increase in the amount of people collecting stamps.

“Topical collecting is mainly a new issue collecting market and thus does little to reduce the buildup in classic stamp inventories, a looming industry problem. It is also abusive when it sets high denominations on stamps which, have a lower resale value by virtue of their limited attraction to budget minded collectors. It has also bifurcated the hobby between classic/country collectors and topical collectors. This weakens the overall market.”

Lehmann warns this path could all but destroy the philatelic market, recalling the fate of lighthouse model collectors.

“That market collapsed when new issuance volume overtook the number of collectors and raised their level of disgust to a breaking point. While stamp collecting is a much broader market and will not fall as rapidly, the basic economic principal is the same; make too much of a product and the price and demand declines – even more so if the product is discretionary.”

‘KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE’

“My suggestion for addressing this excessive new issuance situation would be first, to survey dealers and collectors about their feelings on this matter and then, to meet with the philatelic agencies to discuss their issuance plans and point out the risk that they may be killing the golden goose,” writes Lehmann.

“Let me hear from you on your feelings and ideas. Email me at mail@stampfinder.com.”

To read Lehmann’s full column on Forbes, click here.

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