Stamp market commentary
©2001, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada
Commentary No. 26 - 17 October, 2001
Some current matters of interest
We were asked recently if the stamp market had been affected by the events that took place in New York on September 11. How can one possibly answer a question like this? It is most unlikely the individuals who carried out these attacks had stamps or stamp collectors in mind. On the other hand, we are sure that since that event took place, collectors around the world have been thinking about the losses the people of New York and Washington suffered that day.
During the first eight months of this year, the stamp market in Canada was reasonably strong. We would define this in the following way. The premium material was selling for record prices. Material in the 1851 to 1930 period was strong. There were indications that the value of some of the VFNH stamps in the definitive sets of the post-1930 period was beginning to pick up. There was great strength in the modern varities. There was particularly great interest in the back of the book material except for the "officials". The amount of interest in postal history and the related prices being paid at auction for this material was greater than we had seen in years. During the months of August and September, we recorded no less than nine new record prices.
The economic conditions in Canada and in the U.S. have been deteriorating throughout the current year. But changes in the stamp market do not take place quickly. They occur over a number of years and once a trend begins, it can last for a decade or longer. It is our guess therefore that much more time will have to pass before anyone can say that the upwards trend in the stamp market which was established only two or three years ago has changed.
New Record Prices
Here are the images of the nine new record prices referred to above:
New Unitrade Catalogue
A year ago, just after the new 2001 Scott catalogue appeared, we called Unitrade to see when their new catalogue might be expected and were told not to expect one. We contacted them again this spring and were advised that one would be published later in 2001. Now we are pleased to report that a new catalogue will see daylight in the next month or so. The Unitrade people expect to receive the catalogue around November 15 and should be shipping it out soon thereafter. It will have a new and larger format with updated prices. We looked forward eagerly to this new edition.
News from Scott Catalogue
As any regular reader of Canadian Stamp News will have noticed, the Scott catalogue is now available on CD-ROM. One has the choice of either ordering the pages for a particular country or, one can order a catalogue set for several countries. Last Spring, we paid approximately $60 Cdn.for the regular catalogue book that contains Canada. Since we were only interested in the Canadian prices, 90 % of the catalogue was of little use to us. Thus the ability to obtain the prices for only Canada is a great step forward. Someone at Scott publishing has the customer in mind. This is smart marketing as more people, particularly young people will be able to afford to buy the catalogue. The price, according to the advertisements, is $19.99 US which translates into $31 Cdn. It will of course be interesting to see if Scott will make these CD-ROMs available at the same time as the regular catalogues next Spring or maybe even earlier. Presumably one will find this out by checking the company's website at www.scottonline.com. We suspect that eventually Scott will set up a system for advising collectors by email when the CD-ROMs they are interested in are available each year.
We can imagine that many of our stamp dealers won't be exactly thrilled by this news as it probably will cut into their regular sales of catalogues. All the more reason for them to adapt to the internet and cooperate with Scott in marketing the new products. On the other hand, collectors who live outside the big cities and away from any available dealers will find this new access to the catalogue of their choice to be a very positive development.
Writing in the September 11 2001 edition of the Canada Stamp News, correspondent Randy Heimpel had some interesting comments:"The Canadian version contains 49 pages of images and prices, plus the start-up page. The start page also has an extensive introduction to Scott catalogues [19 pages], an internet link to the Scott home page (www.scottonline.com ) and the installation instructions if you want it on your desktop.Exciting News from the Canadian Postal Archives
"The introduction is the usual presentation found in the books. It is exceptionally informative for standards, and beginners older than 12 should find all they need to know to understand the complexities of the hobby.
"Overall, it is an impressive set up, and certainly fun to use. I love the speed of access and ease of scanning from section to section."
As reported in the September 25, 2001 edition of Canadian Stamp News, the Canadian Postal Archives [which is found in the National Archives' website at www.archives.ca] has launched a greatly expanded website for collectors of Canadian stamps worldwide.
"The new site contains information on history and production of each stamp issued by Canada since 1851 with a search engine capable of accessing more than 5000 digitized images of stamps and supporting documents dealing with stamp production. There are descriptions of more than 30,000 documents related to Canadian postal history from philatelic collections as well as thematic virtual exhibitions and a research device accessible by both visual and keyword screens.
This is the first step in a three-year project that will have this site reflect the core philatelic archival collection and eventually contain about 16,000 items.
Most of the work for the virtual archives was completed in-house by webmaster Marc Houle and his team with help from Idéeclic from Hull,QC. It appears well laid out and easy to navigate and incorporates animated graphics that can be disabled for faster access."
Last August we had the pleasure of meeting with Cimon Morin, head of the Canadian Postal Archives in Ottawa and received a demonstration from him of how the new website operates in practice. We came out of this demonstration amazed at the amount of information that will be available in future to collectors of Canadian stamps. Amongst other things, the material is beautifully laid out and the enhanced images are very appealing. We will now be able to quickly access information on every stamp that Canada and the provinces ever issued in the past.
We plan to review the material in this website in far greater detail in a future commentary because we believe that it represents a very significant development in Canadian philately that should be fully recognized on its merits.