Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary

Report No. 1 - December 17, 1999

We would like to welcome you to the Canadian Stamp Auctions Web Site.  Our purpose in creating this Web Site is to help Canadian stamp collectors, dealers, auctioneers and researchers to communicate with each other through the Internet.  Communication is a two-way street.  We hope to have lots of input from you, our viewers.

The Canadian stamp market has seen many ups and downs during the last 30 years.  In the 1970s, the market for all types of collectibles was surprisingly strong.  Stamps were no exception.  A review of catalog values over the previous 50 years showed a continuous climb, even during the depression years of the 1930s.  But the 1970s showed a period of rapid growth never seen before. That stopped abruptly in the early 1980s when short-term interest rates in Canada reached as high as 22 percent, bringing the speculative fever down.  There followed a period of consolidation and then a very noticeable downturn in the stamp market.

Those of us who have observed the market over the years can well remember that in the 1987 to 1989 period, Scott's catalog dropped virtually all its prices for Canadian stamp's as well as those of other countries, in some cases by as much as 50 percent.  The stamp community was shocked.  In many cases, auction houses refused to use the new catalog values and insisted on retaining the old ones.  It was only several years later that they returned to Scott's and accepted the inevitable, i.e. that there had been a pronounced decline in the market.

The 1990s has seen the market for Canadian stamps make a slow recovery  That recovery has been accelerating during the last few years as we approach the end of the decade.  But this recovery has led to a different type of market than that which existed in the 1970s.  The 1970s market was broadly based.  Values increased year by year almost as a matter of course.  The increases were found in virtually all categories of stamps, new and old.  High denomination stamps were particularly sought after.  Dollar stamps doubled in value within several years of being issued regardless of the quantities available.  Portfolios of rare stamps were sold to investors, in some cases, containing stamps of questionable quality.  This was the period of the collector, the investor and the speculator.

Recent years have seen a different type of market.  Interestingly, the market we have today is like the stock market.  No, we don't have Internet stamps.  But we do have a similar type of two level market. On the one hand, older stamps of the classical period which are very fine or better are much sought after and their values are climbing as is clearly evidenced in the catalogs.  These higher values are a clear reflection of the extreme scarcity of this material.  The demand is greater than the supply.  On the other hand, older stamps of lesser quality are not sought after nor are most modern stamps of Canada.  Exceptions are found amongst the modern varieties which are rare.  Here the varieties, imperforates and stamps with unusual perforations are attracting higher values.  But clearly, this has not translated into a broadly based demand for modern Canadian stamps, i.e. those issued after 1940.

What will the future hold?  In some ways it will have to be the same.  There is, after all, only a limited supply of material.  And out of that material, only a small amount is of a very fine quality. We must also recognize that, for the moment, our Canadian stamp collecting community is very small and does not appear to be growing.  Those are the negatives.  But there are also positives.  As people grow older and have more leisure time, we may see an increasing number attracted to the hobby.  With the Internet, there will be more information available to collectors and hopefully, with sites such as this one, they will find it easier to contact our dealers, auctioneers, stamp societies and all other elements of the Canadian stamp scene.

It is our hope that this will be so as we go into the new millennium.

We would welcome your comments on this and any other matter relating to Stamps in Canada. 
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