Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Are Number 1 Stamps Affordable? - Part 2

Aden, 1937 (Scott #1)
First stamp for Aden

It has been a couple of months since I started investigating the cost of collecting "number 1" stamps. You can find my original article, dated April 23, 2008, here.

As a refresher, a number 1 stamp is the first stamp listed in a catalog for a specific stamp issuer. As reader Svend astutely pointed out in the comments to my original article, classifying a stamp as number 1 can depend on various factors.

One of the factors is obviously catalog selection. I use Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalog, but many collectors prefer other catalogs. Each catalog determines their stamp numbering by several characteristics, so a number 1 stamp in Scott may not be the same stamp as a number 1 in the Michel catalog or a number 1 in the Stanley-Gibbons catalog.

Further complications arise due to how the stamps are listed. Generally, stamp catalogs list a series of stamps in order of increasing denomination, starting with the lowest face value of the series. For these catalogs, a series of stamps will have the lowest denominated stamp listed as number 1. This may not be the first stamp issued, as sometimes the first stamp is a higher value, with lower denominations being "filled in" as the situation warrants.

There is also the complication of how you determine a stamp is a number 1 stamp when the country achieves independence from another country. When the country of Afars and Issas (modern day Djibouti) started issuing their own stamps, instead of using stamps of French Somililand, the Scott stamp catalog continued numbering the stamps from their original numbering scheme. Thus the earliest stamp for Afars and Issas is number 310. Even though there is no #1 stamp for Afars and Issas, some collectors will consider stamp #310 as the "#1" stamp for the country.

Finally, some stamps that at one time were labeled as a number 1 stamp are later found to be a local issue and are removed from the catalog. This step leaves a vacant spot in the numbering scheme. For example, Afghanistan does not have a stamp listed in Scott as number 1, probably because the stamp Scott had originally labeled as number 1 was later found to be of very limited availability. Most major stamp catalogs will not list stamps that had limited use and were not available to sell to the general public.

Collecting number 1 stamps should be tailored by the individual and not be a set of rules. I have chosen to go with the first stamp listed for each country recognized by the Scott catalog, but you may choose others. However, consistency will be the key. In the data table that follows, I have tried to be consistent in my approach.

Here is an updated list of the number 1 stamps for each of the countries that have been documented in this blog. The list has been updated to include the 2009 Scott catalog values, whereas the previous article used an earlier version. As always, the values are quoted in U.S. Dollars


Issuer
First Stamp
Year of Issue
Mint
Used
Abu Dhabi
#1
1964
$2.50
$3.25
Aden
#1
1937
$4.50
$2.75
Aden, Kathiri State of Seiyun
#1
1942
$0.20
$1.00
Aden, Quaiti State of Shihr and Mukalla
#1
1942
$1.50
$1.00
Afars and Issas
#310
1967
$4.00
$3.00
Afghanistan
#2
1871
$500.00
$25.00
Aquera, La
#1
1920
$2.60
$2.60
Aitutaki
#1
1903
$4.75
$7.00
Ajman
#1
1964
$0.20
$0.20
Alaouites
#1
1925
$2.25
$2.75
Albania
#1
1913
$725.00
$600.00
Alexandretta
#1
1938
$2.00
$2.00
Algeria
#1
1924
$0.20
$0.20
Allenstein
#1
1920
$0.40
$0.80
Andorra, French Administration
#1
1931
$0.70
$0.70
Andorra, Spanish Administration
#1
1928
$0.55
$0.55
Angola
#1
1870
$2.25
$1.40
Angra
#1
1892
$5.00
$2.75
Anguilla
#1
1967
$45.00
$32.50
Anjouan
#1
1892
$1.25
$1.25
Annam and Tonkin
#1
1888
$40.00
$32.50
Antigua & Barbuda
#1
1862
$950.00
$600.00



There are 22 stamp issuing countries (or entities) listed in this table. Surprisingly, only 2 countries have number 1 stamps in used condition that are prohibitively expensive (Albania and Antiqua & Barbuda). If you go for mint stamps, then only 1 more country (Afghanistan) would be considered expensive. All the rest are affordable, and some would be considered very affordable with a vast majority under $5.

As I noted in my initial review, the results truly surprised me and I promised that I would return from time to time to see if number 1 stamps are still considered affordable. I wanted to see if my initial sampling was in some way biased and not indicative of reality. However, with a total of 22 stamp issuers, the conclusion still remains that number 1 stamps are affordable.

As more countries are analyzed, I will conduct more analysis to see if the theory that number 1 stamps are affordable continues to be true.

So far, so good.

No comments: