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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

August 2015





  New SG "Concise".



The new Gibbons 2015 “Concise” catalogue of Great Britain postage stamps has just been released locally, and all main dealers will have stock.

If you collect or stock GB stamps, you MUST get a copy, or you will be way behind the market on current stamp prices.



“Concise” near 500 pages thick.


Hugh Jefferies and co-editors of this huge full colour opus should be very proud, as it is now nearly 500 pages thick, and weighs in at a very impressive 1.2 Kilos. 

Australian RRP is very similar to the UK retail of £35, so the local price of $A78.50 is most attractive, being near same as in England - most especially as they are heavy to ship here. I’ve pre-sold many so far.

The “Concise” will stay open on your desk without the need to balance something on one side. This makes it much easier to use, and the spine is likely to stay intact for a great deal longer.


Telegraph Issues Strong


On a quick look through, there are upward price fine tunes where warranted through all Reigns and eras.  Often in unexpected areas like the Telegraph Stamp issues, which seem to be on a continually upward price graph.


GB Telegraph Stamps popular.


I sold the QV imperforate 1/- “Specimen” shown nearby last year for a quite tiny sum, and this kind of thing I feel sure will double in value in a very short time frame.  Supply is negligle in this field, and demand is growing yearly.

This new 2015 “Concise” catalogue of course lists and prices all FDCs and PO packs, and PHQ cards, and watermark and missing colour variations where recorded, and that is a huge plus for collectors and dealers.

I was looking up some modern GB FDC’s which were up nicely over last edition - not bad, as I was working with a book of them!


Modern GB stamps on the move.


Prices have been reviewed throughout this Edition, with increases in all periods, from QV line-engraved right through to recent issues. There are notable increases for varieties, errors, Machins, “Post & Go” stamps, and booklets.


High flyers often up too.


Many already high priced stamps go up again. Mark my words - you will see this same pattern occur for several years to come in SG catalogues for better early GB.

The lesson?  Buy the stamps you need NOW in this better grade of material. The common $5 type items will likely still be $5 in 10 years’ time. Maybe less.

The $500 item might however become $1,000, and the $5,000 stamp might be $15,000.  Or far more, in some instances I can think of.

And the same money in the bank will likely to have gone up less than 10% or so in 5 years after tax, the way low interest rate are globally right now.


These will NEVER get cheaper


And if left in the stock-market, or traditional funds, it may well have DECREASED, as we can all see from some recent annual returns!

As an example of how easy the pricier material is to sell, I have set up a “Rarity” page offering choice single items and covers priced mainly around $A1,000.


Scarcer stamps selling well.


Shameless plug, but many items sell in a day or so of listing them - - and other dealers report the same experience with top shelf material.

With the incredibly weak $A in recent months, most of what I list goes to the USA or UK, both of whom have strong currencies. A stamp priced at $A1,000 costs a Brit about £470, or $US740, so that one stamp is $100s less than last year to either buyer.


SG’s Hugh Jefferies gets MBE.


Hugh Jefferies, Stanley Gibbons Catalogue and GSM Editor, gets an MBE. The official wording in the June 12, 2015, Queen's Birthday Honours List was:-

Member Of The British Empire (MBE) - Mr Anthony Hugh Mostyn Jefferies - Editor, Gibbons Stamp Monthly and Stamp Catalogues. For services to Philately.

A VERY well deserved award.  Here is a short ‘YouTube’ promo clip that Hugh did for promoting Gibbons Stamp Monthly (GSM) - - I lifted the photo nearby from that video.

I’ve known Hugh for decades, and how on earth one person juggles as many jobs and tasks as he does, and so seamlessly and professionally, continually amazes me, as I’ve commented on in the past, many times.


And now - Hugh Jefferies, MBE.


The endless stream of SG Catalogues of all types, shapes and sizes, would be a job most companies would have a big team of folks working on, and the huge "Gibbons Stamp Monthly" ditto, yet for very many years Hugh did the lion’s share of both, as far as I understand.

Hugh told me recently his attempt to ease into a more retirement based phase has not succeeded too well, and he is still working near as many hours as he always did, on the endless stream of SG catalogues!


Stamp Honours rare in Stamp World.


Great to see anyone in stamps getting these honours … I recall Max Stern got an MBE many years ago for "Services To Philately", and there are precious few others globally on that esteemed list, to be honest.

Having a very steady, savvy, and experienced hand at the tiller for such important resources, is a stabilising and secure outcome, and do not EVER underestimate the value of that, for an ordered stamp market. Globally. is a discussion on this award for those interested with several anecdotes from those who have also worked and consulted with Hugh Jefferies, MBE. 


Get WRITTEN Insurance valuations.


I am always amazed at how many otherwise very savvy collectors mention in conversation they have ZERO formal insurance documents covering their stamps. Often for 6 figure collections.

The USA seems pretty lenient on stamp insurance. In Australia Insurance companies are (understandably) very hard-nosed and tough.

I do many Insurance valuations and claims matters every month, and have flown to all states to do this, for insurance and divorce and probate matters etc, as outlined here in detail -



You MUST get stamps insured.


In Australia, in short, if your stamps are stolen, burnt, water damaged etc you generally have **ZERO** chance of getting a cent, unless you can furnish insurer with a detailed, dated, and signed assessment.

They ask that it be done by a qualified, independent stamp valuer, whom they recognise as such. A scribbled note from your mate at a stamp club etc, they will simply NOT accept, as many assume AFTER the event will be the case!


Penny Pinching brings $100,000 loss.


One local client had about $100,000 real world value of mainly Kangaroo stamps etc purchased over the decades, from dealers, fairs, and on-line etc. He asked me what it would cost for a formal typed valuation, and told him the typical cost was $200-$300.

Mr. Genius snorted derisively, and told me that was far too high, as he had an Excel document listing them all in great detail along with catalogue values etc, so felt happy his detailed inventory was going to be sufficient.

He was burgled last year, and cheerfully emailed his inventory to Insurers after the theft, and they basically laughed, and said he might well have typed that up a few hours back, and paid him zero, and declined the claim entirely.

My Dad used to call that logic "Penny Wise, Pound Foolish" and this fellow's "saving" of a couple $100, on a professional written valuation, cost him $100,000 more or less. The stamps are gone forever.

Anything less than that kind of detailed, dated and lodged with insurer in advance documentation, and you have no chance in general. (Here in Australia anyway, I can't speak for overseas countries.)


Useful for Police & Dealer tracking.


The good thing about a detailed written valuation, is that it can be handed to Police and circulated globally to stamp dealer bodies. I get regular advices from PTS/ASDA/IFSDA listing stolen material, and stamp dealers are a small group, and we can often help recover the goods. 


You need to specify ALBUM values.



A common mistake is not to specify the replacement costs of your album and pages and catalogues etc. The 4 x “Lighthouse” albums shown nearby I sold to a client this month with Australia hingeless pages in them. Cost him $A1,800 alone.

In his case my written valuation had $42,500 for stamps, and $5,000 to replace the Hagners, albums and slipcases and catalogues and reference books. Many dealers fail to list those, and value them.

For all written valuations I do, I mail the client TWO copies on letterhead. One copy I urge collectors to keep filed safely, the other copy I urge they mail Registered Post to their insurer to attach to their file.

THEN if your formal valuation dated August 2, 2015 is on their file, and your house is burgled, flooded or burnt down etc in November 2015, and the Police/Fire Department report confirms that event, they tend to accept that stamp loss as real and confirmed, and they pay up on it pretty fast.

One client got ~$50,000 back recently, based solely on my very detailed valuation letter of a year earlier, which outlined the replacement value of his stamps, pages, and reference books and catalogues. 

I am right now in the middle of a holiday to Thailand, Korea, China, and then Mongolia. Trip insurance is just a few $100 also, and no-one SANE would go on trips to places like that, with no travel insurance, yet the same folks cheerfully do not bother with stamp insurance!


Written in the Gobi Desert.


This column is being completed in mid July, literally in the middle of the Gobi Desert in Outer Mongolia, so it may be a little briefer than usual, due to time constraints, and almost total lack of internet access.

Been here for a few days staying in very basic Ger/Yurts, drinking fermented Yak’s Milk, and riding the unique 2 hump Mongol camels, and nimble steppe ponies etc.

Flew in via a long 24 hours of flights via Bangkok to Beijing, population 22 million, for a few days of exploring, and climbing a remote section of The Great Wall, hours from downtown.

I stupidly spilt Champagne onto laptop keyboard in Thailand airport, totally frying the motherboard, and spent days in Beijing, frantically tracking down an authetic ASUS R505C board, at truly vast expense. And then the long flight to Ulaanbaatar, Outer Mongolia.


“Glen goes Gobi”



Overnight there, and up at 4am for a 1½ hour small plane flight into the Gobi Desert on Aero Mongolia to Dalanzadgad, the capital of remote Ömnögovi Aimag region in Mongolia.  Population about 15,000.  Altitude is around 5,000 feet - must be fun to visit in mid-Winter! 

Then drove south for many 100s of kms south, in a tough 4WD, down unmade sandy, rutted tracks, deep into the Gobi Desert, to get a little taste of things that have been VERY largely unchanged and untouched by tourism for 1000 years.

Slept in the round traditional Gers/Yurts, with a small candle only, and no hot water anywhere etc, and ate goat curd cheese, and drank fermenented mare’s milk etc.

We took the 2 hump camels to the base, and then barefoot climbed the huge “Singing Sand Dunes” - seemingly almost mountain range size, to see the sun set over the vast Gobi desert.  When the sand avalanches down the dunes “sing”.


No internet access.


Internet and cellphone access was near TOTALLY non-existent in the Gobi. Then a flight back to Ulaanbaatar, for the annual NADAAM Festival, where Mongolian tribesmen gather to compete against each other in Archery, Wrestling and horse racing - the national top sports. 

It is a 5 day public holiday, and THE biggest deal of the year. We were in the stadium to see the Wrestling final “wrestle-off”. The huge sized winner is an instant National superstar, and gets a Land Cruiser, a large box of money, and I understand, an apartment. 

Have planned to visit NADAAM a couple times in the past, and the cards finally fell into place this year. Accommodation is the big issue, as it oversells out, as only a few (mediocre) Western standard Hotels there, and their rates go up to $A500 a night, as they know they CAN!


Unique 2 hump camels, in the wild.


I've visited many Deserts in my world travels over the decades. Had a Christmas day in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana in "Jacks Camp" sited right on the remote Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Have ridden camels in the Sahara in Egypt, and Tunisia North Africa. 

And crossed the Nullabor and Simpson Deserts here, and spent New Year's Eve in the flat coastal Atacama Desert region of Peru, and been twice to the Tierra Del Fuego desert in South Chile. The Mojave Desert in Utah. and oddly but accurately, the world's largest desert - Antarctica. But never the GOBI Desert!                                



Mongolia stamps sell for $A4,550!


Mongolia stamps can get very pricey. The 1943 Definitive set shown nearby sold on ebay recently for  approximately $A4,550 in mixed condition. It attracted 65 bids starting at $1.  Amazing, have never seen it before and have no idea of its catalogue value!


Better Mongolia stamps a “Sleeper”.


The philatelic material of Mongolia is in increasing global demand. From the quirky “Tanna Tuva/Touva” material of the earlier 20th Century, to more modern issues, catalogue values can be very high.

Mongolian stamps have strong followings from both Russian and China collectors, as both heavily border the country, and both have had very close relations with the country in the past.

I seldom get anything better and earlier into stock, and was lucky to buy a few sets of the 1962 Genghis Khan quartet shown nearby when in Ulaan Baator, from a stamp contact there.


1962 Genghis Khan stamp set.


These seemed a pretty looking set to me, and with current SG cat only £52 a set, would appear to have a ton of upside in the near future I’d suspect.  Listed them into stock at a low price, in case anyone has a gap in their Mongolia collection!

There have been extensive mineral and oil discoveries here in Mongolia, and the economy will skyrocket ahead in years to come. The people are fiercely nationalistic, and I suspect buying of stamps by the “new money” class will be strong. 


1¢ British Guiana Buyer revealed.


Well the secret is just out. The buyer of the unique British Guiana 1856 1¢ Black on Magenta for $US9.5 million      (today $A12. 835m) in June 2014 was revealed this month - a year after he bought it. 

New York fashion shoe-maker Stuart Weitzman, known for his expensive leg-thinning boots, and strappy sandals, is confirmed as the new owner of the most valuable item on earth for its size and weight.


$13 million for one stamp.


Mr. Weitzman, 73, started collecting stamps at a young age, growing up in Queens, New York, but went on to fashion notoriety creating shoes for everyday wear, as well as special diamond-encrusted and gold shoes etc for the “Red Carpet set”.

Weitzman told the “New York Times”, “I had an album, an American album but of world-famous international stamps, and there was a big hole on the top of the page for the British Guiana."  It looks like that small blank space has finally been filled.


On Extended Public Display.


The famous stamp will soon go on display at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, until at least November 2017, the longest and most publicly accessible showing in its history. It will be on show at the huge New York “EXPO”in May 2016.


1856 1¢ British Guiana stamp.


Weitzman seems to have gone on a stamp buying spree of some magnitude. The “New York Times” reports he also owns the $US5 million or so 1918 “Inverted Jenny” Plate number block 4 shown nearby.

This block was famously swapped by multi-billionaire Bill Gross in 2005 to obtain the unique in private hands, USA 1¢ Blue “Z” Grill stamp he needed to complete his USA 19th Century collection - which then went on to win top global awards.

The “swapper” was Donald Sunman owner of Mystic Stamp Company in New York, who is the supreme Barnum and Bailey showman of the US stamp business. ’Jenny’ prices have been super soft in the past year or two, and he might have decided to get whatever he could, and fire up the media machine.  


Sold for around $A6.75 Million.


Way back in October 2014 Sundman gave “Linn’s Stamp News” a breathless sounding story that now seems like partly or largely fiction like partly fiction of some curious kind, now the real NYC purchaser has just been revealed.


Some curious claims.


Sundman oddly claimed the sale of the block of 4 was for “North of $US4.8 million” (now widely claimed to be $US5 million = $A6.75m) and, “it was a price I just couldn’t turn down.”

He told Linns back then, a secret caller phoned, who represented a group of clients, who Sundman described as - “overseas” and “European” individuals who like to collect valuable things, not just stamps. They are neither philatelists, nor investors.”

Sundman claimed he met his “buyer” at a bank on October 4, 2014, and stated the buyer seemed to know little about stamps. He stated he was paid by Certified cheque, that his bank verified was good and genuine.

Who knows what the real story actually was, but the “overseas”  buyer appears to be simply a New York local like Sundman was.  Nothing in American large stamp deals ever seem to be straight forward!









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