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)|
|People’s Republic of China||84||4231||80.8||5.6|
|Republic of China||1031||3182||75.5||7.5|
|St. Thomas & Prince Isl||353||2355||87.0||10.1|
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 email@example.com.”
To read Lehmann’s full column on Forbes, click here.