Investors looking for first class returns should turn to rare stamps, claims a specialist firm. Stamps have outperformed the FTSE100 and British property prices since 1995 and in the past 12 months, some of the most collectible stamps have seen returns ahead of the best performing shares.
London-based philatelist Stanley Gibbons argues stamps are a better hedge against stock market and commodity volatility than shares, property, and gold. The firm has an index of Britain’s 250 most expensive stamps – and the price was up 1.2% year-on-year until the end of June 2016 compared to the FTSE, which lost 11% in the same period.
“Stamps are showing that they have an investment and wealth preservation pedigree during a time when world stock markets have had a difficult period,” says the firm.
The top performer was the 1841 Penny Red, issued shortly after Queen Victoria came to the throne. And, according to Stanley Gibbons, a mint condition ‘plate 2’ Penny Red is worth £25,000 and has gained £3,000 in value in a year, with a yield of 355% in 10 years. Another stamp to outstrip other investments last year was the deep gray/green 1935 King George V 4d, where the value soared from £800 to £9,000 in 12 months – a surge of 1,025%.
The firm publishes an annual Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue, which is the price benchmark for stamp collectors. Stanley Gibbons also tracks the value of the 30 rarest British stamps. Since 1985, they have surged in value by 396%, compared with increases for the FTSE of 320%, property of 252% and gold of 261%.
The World’s most expensive stamp
The firm’s managing director Keith Heddle argues that investors should consider stamps, antiques, coins and fine wine for their portfolios.
“Stamps and other investments that are uncorrelated to mainstream markets tend to hold their value and are good for diversifying portfolios,” he said.
“The turmoil on world markets since the Brexit vote are a stark reminder of why investors should hold this type of asset.”
An 1856 magenta one cent British Guinea stamp holds the record as the world’s most expensive ever sold – fetching £5.6 million at an auction in New York in 2014. The stamp is the only known one of its types still surviving. The stamp was printed at the request of the local postmaster in the then British colony of Guiana to tide over the postal service when weather delayed the ship delivering stock from England.