Stamp market commentary
Report No. 10 - 17 June, 2000
In our review of the recently issued Scott 2001 catalogue, we noted that a number of relatively large price increases had been recorded and very few decreases. In this commentary, we will consider how significant the changes are.
Scott 2001 versus 1983
To start the exercise, we looked back to the Scott catalogue issued some 18 years ago. This was in 1983 when the Scott prices had peaked following the inflationary period of the 1970s. During the 1970s, the values of most collectibles, including stamps, increased almost automatically year by year. Then the interest rate crunch came in the early 1980s with short-term interest rates of up to 22% in the U.S. and Canada. This, together with the earlier price controls, brought inflation down dramatically. The stamp prices, which had risen steadily, levelled off in 1980 and remained flat for the next few years. 1983 was the last year the catalogue prices held at their high levels. Then they began falling. The decline was slow at first but in 1987 it sharpened dramatically, finally settling in 1989. Only in recent years have we seen a comeback in the catalogue prices.
If one only looked at the stamps issued from 1851 to 1927 [Scott nos. 1 - 148], one would see that the prices in the latest Scott are generally higher than 18 years ago. For these stamps, the future looks bright. However, for the stamps issued after 1927, the prices are still down compared to what they were in 1983, in some cases, seriously down. For example, the well known 50 cent Bluenose [Scott 158] had a catalogue value of $375 in 1983 but has fallen to only $150 in 2001. The $1 Fish [Scott 302] had a catalogue value of $110 in 1983 but is down to $55 in 2001. Why the big change? It's simply the law of supply and demand. There has been a great demand for the earlier issues but little supply, and just the opposite for the later issues. For further details see Scott Catalogue Long Term Comparison Highlights, 1983 to 2001
Scott 2001 versus 1998
To get a better perspective on the more recent Scott price changes, we looked at the catalogues of the last three years comparing Scott 2001 to 1998. We were quite surprised at what we found. There were few price changes in the sets before the Maple Leafs [Scott 66 -- 73] but many significant changes in that and subsequent sets until the Admirals [Scott 104 -- 122]. After the Admirals, the changes are spotty, turning up in the low value definitives, the coils, the imperforates and the perforation varieties of the modern definitives. The most significant price increases are found in the "no hinged (NH)" stamps. However these are not as fully reported in the 1998 Scott Catalogue as they are today and this makes comparisons difficult. For details of our analysis click to go to our Scott 2001 Canadian Winners.
What really surprised us in our analysis of the catalogues were the percentage increases that popped up when we compared the 1998 - 2001 increases with the changes in the prior three years of 1995 - 1998. The percentage increases in that earlier period were even greater than in the most recent period. All in all, during the past 6 years, we have witnessed a period of dramatic increases in catalogue prices in certain selected areas. We wish we could say that these have been translated into equivalent increases in the market prices at auction. But, until 2000, this was not the case.
Only this year are we beginning to see some noticeable increases taking place in the auction prices. These are for the most part limited to the early classics and the no hinged stamps. Our summary of prices realized at auction over the past ten years shows that prices during most of that period are fairly flat. More recent evidence indicates that this is now changing for the better. We will keep you advised on this as we review the auction results during the remainder of the year.