Is Stamp Collecting An Investment? Part 2

The proponents of the "buy stamps and retire on the profits you will make" are great shakes at pointing out that the Ferrari collection sold for some two million dollars, that the Hind collection brought a million dollars during the world's worst depression, and that other great collections have been sold for large sums of money. The most recent incident of this nature to come to the attention of the general public has been the sale of the collection formed by the late Alfred Caspary. The "Caspary" sales just concluded realized a total of some two million eight hundred thousand dollars. It is interesting to note that none of the three "greats" mentioned - Ferrari, Hind and Caspary - ever purchased sheets of current stamps at the Post Office and waited for them to increase in value. All three purchased the world's great rarities and often paid record prices for their acquisitions. The truth is that these collections were of great value to begin with. We have no way of knowing how much a rich man may have spent for his collection.

There are sometimes records available from which we learn that "so and so" bought certain stamps for so much, which brought ten times as much when his collection was sold. I have never learned of an estate claiming a profit over cost of a collection that was sold (An exception would be the collection of the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Collectors and friends paid enormous prices when this collection was sold at auction. In fact, the collection brought more than twice its appraised valuation. However, this was not the philatelic value of the stamps going under the hammer; this was an abnormal personal value which the buyers attached to anything once owned by the late President.)

It would be next to impossible to ascertain whether a profit had been made or lost because there is very little evidence to determine what the stamps may have cost the owner in the first place. Stamps, admittedly, have a very high salvage value. This value is often far greater than for stocks, bonds, or other financial investments which upon the demise of the owner may have to be sold when the stock market is temporarily depressed. The salvage value of stamps is not affected by such fluctuations and may often exceed the actual cost, especially in collections that have developed a new field of collecting interest. Because of the large auction market and the great number of professionals eager and financially able to acquire worth-while collections to almost any value, the collector can realize this salvage value rather quickly, just as quickly, in fact, as he could sell his stocks or bonds. This situation gives the collector a sense of security that might well be lacking were not such excellent facilities at his command.