Canadian Stamp Auctions

Stamp market commentary

Commentary No. 23 - 17 July, 2001

The New 2002 Scott Catalogue

Some Further Comments

In last month's commentary on the 2002 Scott catalogue, we noted that there had been only a few price increases reported in the Canadian section. This is in clear contrast to the previous year's edition in which there were increases across the board. We comment briefly on the 2002 changes and then look back to what has been happening since 1998 to get a better perspective. 

Few major increases in 2002:

Of the 31 notable increases in the 2002 Scott catalogue referred to in Commentary No. 22, all but two were for stamps in no hinged condition.  The highest percentage increases were for stamps issued after 1976.  The real winners in this period were stamps printed on gum, stamps with missing colours and certain Christmas booklet panes. For the average collector it would appear the market had come to a halt.  In trying to understand what happened, some people have referred to the effects of the collapse in the stock market and the apparent levelling off of the economy.  Recent discussions we have had with stamp dealers indicate that for some at least, things have actually slowed down.  But this is not that evident in the prices being realized by the auction houses, at least not yet. New record prices continue to be made.

Looking back to 1998:

We had a look back at the 1998 Scott catalogue to see how the 31 winners in the 2002 catalogue were being treated at that time and were surprised at some of the results.  These results tell us a lot about the direction in which the market is heading at the present time.

Of the 31 stamps that did so well in the 2002 catalogue, only 9 were listed in the 1998 catalogue with a price. So what happened with the 22 others ?  Here's the answer:

3 stamps in the 2002 catalogue were not yet issued in 1998
9 stamps were recorded in 1998 but without a specific price for the NH variety
7 varieties in the 2002 catalogue were not yet listed in 1998 
3 stamps were recorded in 1998 but no price was given

So what does all this mean?

First, it is possible on occasion for even the most recent stamps to jump in value although this rarely happens.  This was the case with some of the Christmas booklets [Scott 1764a - 1766a].

Second, we have to recognize that it is only in recent years that separate prices have been provided by Scott for the no hinged varieties.  Scott started this practice a number of years ago but only on a limited basis.  It has gradually expanded this over the last five years and is continuing this expansion with each year's catalogue.  Both Darnell and Unitrade adopted the practice years ago. Although many serious collectors are not happy about the premiums given to NH stamps, it is clear that the rate of change in the prices of lightly hinged stamps has diverted in a noticeable way from that of the no hinged stamps. Therefore, the price of one is not necessarily a good indication of the price for the other. One cannot therefore quarrel with the path the Scott catalogue has adopted in this matter.

The third obvious trend in the more recent years has been the addition of many new varieties. These include stamps with missing colours, missing inscriptions, missing holograms, stamps printed on gum and the imperforate and partially imperforate varieties. Many of the price increases in the 2002 Scott catalogue fell into this category [see Scott nos.716c, 741b, 789d, 865a, 918b, 918c, 922a, etc.]. We cannot say that we are thrilled with this development.  These varieties in many cases are not available to the average collector because of the way they come on the market and their very high prices.

The popularity of the no hinged stamps:

It is not unusual for those who have been involved in collecting stamps for a long time to be suspicious of new trends. In earlier years, one did not distinguish between stamps with hinge marks and those without.  This is very evident from the auction catalogues issued prior to 1970.  They usually only referred to the fact that stamps were mint or used. Older collectors are probably correct when they point out that most stamps issued before 1910 would normally have been hinged by the collectors of that time. If those stamps are found in no hinged condition today, they have probably been doctored. One can argue however that many of those older stamps were collected in blocks and only the top stamps in the blocks would have been hinged. Even today, blocks from this period are commonly offered at auction and we suspect that those who buy them are principally interested in the bottom two stamps which are unhinged. We must admit that it seems quite disappointing to see some of the low prices offered for early stamps which are well centred and in beautiful condition which are penalized merely because of a light hinge mark. Many of these stamps are extremely rare and collectible and should be recognized as being valuable on account of this. However, the market is not perfect and we have to respect the consensus of all those who participate in it.

We would conclude that there had been many changes in the stamp market which are clearly shown in the difference between the 1998 and 2002 Scott catalogue prices.  These developments began well before 1998 and will, we suspect, continue over the next few years.  Unfortunately, only collectors of above average means will be able to participate.  However, there are other less obvious areas of opportunity available to the average collector and we will be looking at these in the months ahead.

We complete our review with a look at some of the larger price increases that took place between the 1998 and 2002 Scott catalogues.  This four- year review reveals far greater changes than are evident in the latest catalogue.

Major changes - Scott 1998 vs. 2002:

The most impressive increase of all was that of the very rare 2 cent large queen on laid paper [Scott no. 32] which jumped from $125,000 to $175,000. As far as is known, there are only two copies of this stamp, both in used condition. 2 Queen on Laid Paper

On a lesser scale, but still impressive, was the increase in value of the 61 cent timber wolf of the 1987- 1991 definitive set [Scott No.1175a] that increased from $2 to $52 during this four year period.

What other stamps took off in value? Here's a list of those that increased over 50% between 1998 and 2002:

Small Queen
Scott No.

10 cent magenta
10 cent red brown
Maple Leaf
8 cent
2 cent
Edward VII
1 cent
2 cent
7 cent
3 cent
3 cent
4 cent
5 cent
8 cent
1 cent coil
2 cent
4 cent
5 cent
1 cent coil
2 cent coils
Imperforate sets
6 cent imperforate
6 cent, black omitted
Queen Variety
17 cent, black omitted
6 cent partial imperforate
Special Delivery
10 cent
20 cent

We were impressed by the increases during this period in two other groups of stamps.  First, the definitive set of 1987-1991 in which 25 stamps had increases of over 50 % in four years and of these, 16 had increases of over 100%. This is a rather remarkable achievement. 

We also noted great interest and rising prices in the Christmas booklet panes. 

  • The panes of 1989 [Scott 1179a-1184a] increased in value from $22 to $87, a gain of 300%. 
  • The panes of 1990 [Scott 1283a - 1286a] increased from $9.75 to $15.00, an increase of 54 %. 
  • The panes of 1998 [Scott 1764a-1766a] increased from $15.00 to $51.00, an increase of 240%
Helpful Links:

Those of you who would like to look further into some of the above may find it interesting to look at the following links to other commentaries our web site:

Commentary no. 22 - The New Scott Catalogue
New record prices in 2001
Commentary no. 17 - The Definitives of 1987 - Part II
Commentary no. 16 - The Definitives of 1987 - Part I
Commentary no. 10 - The New Scott 2001 Catalogue
Commentary no.  7  - Canada's Rarest Stamp

As always, we welcome your comments.  Please write us at:
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©2001, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada