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Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 114 - 17 December, 2008

The 2009 Unitrade Catalogue

We picked up the new 2009 Unitrade catalogue in Montreal in November. It cost $45, same price as last year and, as usual, worth every penny. Some of the changes in format were noted by the well known stamp dealer, Ian Kimmerly, in his recent Newsletter:

· 24 additional pages
· Printed on thicker paper
· 2 pages of “illustrated gems”
· A table of the Small Queen printings

Ian notes that, for Small Queen collectors, the above table is worth more than the price of the catalogue. After reviewing the table we would definitely agree. We would encourage our viewers to look at the “illustrated gems”. This is a display of some of the finest stamps that have appeared at auction in the past 2 years.

Price changes

Unlike last year’s edition, this year’s saw relatively few increases in the values of the sets. This left just the occasional increase. What average collectors will find frustrating is that most of the increases are restricted to the high priced stamps and varieties and only occasionally to the types of stamps that most of us can afford.

We give credit to Unitrade for taking a very conservative approach in its pricing. During the first half of 2008, prices advanced nicely. The market was strong. This was reflected in the Scott catalogue which appeared last May. But those increases came to a stop as the financial crisis hit North America last summer and went global. Suddenly in September, prices at auction began to fall for the general sets, leaving demand for only the rarest early stamps and scarce varieties. This was very noticeable as we reviewed the auction results in the fall.

Let’s look then at the price changes in the recent Unitrade. Please note again that while we illustrate some of the price increases, these are not representative of the prices generally which were few and far between.


Classics - Scott 1-20

Increases for Scott 2, 10, 12, 16 and 19 mint, and 12 used.

2
12
19
2009 – $60,000
2009 - $25,000
2009 - $1,800
2008 – 50,000
2008 - $20,000
2008 - $1,500
2007 – 35,000
2007 - $10,000
2007 - $1,500

Large Queens - Scott 21 – 33

Increases for Scott 22, 24 and 26 mint, and 27b.

22
24
2009 - $1,000
2009 - $1,400
2008 - $800
2008 - $1,000
2007 - $800
2007 - $900


Small Queens
Scott 34 – 47

The most noticeable increases were for 3 of the mint stamps with the rare 11½ x 12 perforations. Here they are:

35d
36e
37e
2009 – $600
2009 - $900
2009 - $500
2008 – $400
2008 - $600
2008 - $350
2007 – $350
2007 - $500
2007 - $350

To summarize, in case it isn’t clear, that apart from the above individual increases which are definitely of interest, there were only a few changes generally in the Classics and the Large and Small Queens.

Early sets

Here is a summary of the price increases for the early sets:

 
Scott
2008
2009
Jubilees
50-65
11,170
11,490
Maple Leafs
66-73
1,700
1,740
Numerals
74-80
3,135
3,145
Edward VII
89-95
3,610
3,770
Quebec Tercentenary
96-103
1,300
1,525
Admirals
104-122
1,610
1,620
Scroll
149-159
1,101
1,110
Arch
162-177
826
826
Medallion
195-201
211
211
Pictorial
217-227
213
213

Offsetting these minimal changes, there were substantial increases for the imperforates of the Quebec Tercentenary, Admiral, Arch, Medallion and Pictorial sets.

For example the Admiral imperforates climbed from $20,500 last year to $24,600 this year and the Medallions from $1,800 to $2,100.


Modern sets

The pattern of few, if any increases, continued through the rest of the catalogue. However, here and there a variety jumped in price. Most of these were imperforate pairs, part imperforate blocks and stamps with missing inscriptions or printed on gum. A number of coil stamps with “end strips” also increased in price.

We were a bit surprised at the price increases for the first day covers issued between 1967 and 1971. These all jumped to $2, but then, after 1972, the increases stopped. Not a big deal, but interesting to note.

Some Outstanding Examples

In order not to end on a negative note, we show below some of the stamps that did well in the 2009 catalogue:

56
92
2009 - $200
2009 - $400
2008 - $150
2008 - $300
2007 - $150
2007 - $300

111a
175a
341v
2009 - $400
2009 - $1,250
2009 - $6,000
2008 - $300
2008 - $900
2008 - $5,000
2007 - $300
2007 - $900
2007 - $5,000

934b
2009 - $4,000
2008 - $3,000
2007 - $3,000

OX2a
2009 - $6,000
2008 - $5,000
2007 - $4,000

A year ago, the market was hot, prices were forging ahead and we were optimistic about the future. Today, a far different scenario faces us, driven by a financial crisis of great proportions. Governments around the world are struggling to cope and get things back on track. The prices for collectables have suffered. How they will be faring a year from now, or even two years from now, remains to be seen. For now, the future is uncertain. This year’s catalogue has properly reflected this and we commend Unitrade for its restraint.

We have prepared summaries of the noticeable price increases and new listings in this year’s catalogue. To see them, please click on the following buttons:

Noticeable price increases in the 2009 catalogue

New listings

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