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Saturday, April 10, 2010

1990 MARKET WATCH

by Greg Manning

The stamp market in the United States has been relatively active during the summer of 1990, and the expectations are that this activity will carry through the fall and winter.

Prices for both United States and foreign stamps have remained stable with few “hot” areas except for China, Thailand and Taiwan, and a short list of other countries. The Japanese market, which had been rising steadily over the past few years, appears to have taken a time-out as prices have plateaued. The market in Europe has been quiet of late. I expect that with the strength of the European currencies against the U.S. dollar, we will see many more Europeans in the United States on buying trips. This will certainly help push the U.S. market with a fresh money supply and increased competition at auction. Prices will eventually move upward because of this increase in demand.


The lone area of weakness in Europe, at least from current reports, is the market in the United Kingdom. The British pound is, and has been for several months, very strong. I would have expected more English dealers take advantage of this buying opportunity in the U.S., but they haven’t as yet. This indicates a general weakness in the home market, although you would not have been able to ascertain this based on the attendance at the 1990 London International in May.


However, I believe that the market in London will also come back strong since numerous positive developments have occurred over the past year. The situation at Stanley Gibbons, Ltd. has certainly improved from the turmoil of the 80’s and I expect that with their current excellent management and a focus on their traditional values, that the 90’s will bode well for this fine and philatelically historic company. The London auction market is also doing very well, and buyers from around the world still journey to London for any “name” or important sale.


Back home in the United States the Scott controversy continues, with most auctioneers and man retail dealers still using the 1988 catalogues and looking for a viable alternative to the 1991 Scott editions.


Unfortunately, this controversy has caused a market reaction over the past two years, and certainly put a stop to the long awaited rise in prices which began in 1988. Even though Scott now states that their prices are “retail”, this wasn’t their position with the 1989 edition when they began the process of lowering catalogue values. This lowering of prices caused a general concern among many collectors and dealers who thought that the market has improved in 1988 and was rising, not falling. The consequence was an unsettled market with unflattering statements from both sides flying back and forth, causing further consternation and market unrest.


I believe that we are through the worst time regarding the Scott crisis and that catalogue prices, whether retail or not, will have less affect on the market in the future.


Scott has learned a lot in the past two years, and certainly is aware of the problems inherent in publishing a retail catalogue. Eventually, if they recognize the worldwide marketplace with its real world prices, we will receive a more responsibly priced catalogue.

Scott doesn’t make the market, but they do influence it greatly. I therefore look forward to the day when everyone can again be in accord with their pricing policy, whether they use the traditional method or retail prices. When this accord happens, the market should respond in an extremely positive and upbeat manner.


This has been adapted from Global Stamp News – November 1990 – Issue #1