Friday 20 May 2016

762. "Limited Editions" All The Rage.

  The Gibraltar postal administration will issue a "My Stamp" "limited edition" sheetlet of 20 "Rock Of Gibraltar" stamps for the New York World Stamp Show. The price of the item will be £5 (total face value of the stamps is £4.40p). The stamps have 20 different labels attached to them which depict various sites in New York. The publicity on the Gibraltar philatelic bureau's website, which seems to have been written by someone who appears to be only partially literate, states that, "The sheets are individually numbered and bares (sic) the New York World Stamp Show official logo". The "limited edition" amounts to a total of 2016 sheets.
   I suppose this is a worthy souvenir for those attending the exhibition itself and surprisingly carries only a small mark up of 60p above the actual face value of the stamps. Nevertheless, I don't feel the need to add an example of the item to my Gibraltar collection. Rating:- *.

  This product is interesting since it highlights some recent trends in new issue stamp production. Firstly, the "limited edition". Royal Mail has produced 2 items recently which have been described as "limited editions" - the so-called Prestige booklets released in connection with the Star Wars and Queen's Birthday issues which, with minor changes to them, have been put on sale at much, much higher prices than the basic non-Limited edition items. 
  Presumably the appeal to potential buyers is thought to be that the limited opportunity to obtain these items greatly increases their desirability because so few of them exist. The desirability of the items arises from the fact that a rare item has been created and therefore they are likely to rise in value when they are all sold out from their original source. Postal administrations and philatelic agencies which produce such items clearly believe that this artificial rarity therefore puts a great premium on their original selling price.
  Of course an item might be rare - that is - not many of them exist but what really matters is that there are sufficient numbers of people who want to buy these items. If there are not enough buyers then the items may exist in small numbers but they are not rare. At the present, at least, the outpouring of "limited editions" suggests that issuing entities believe that there are enough people around who are of sufficient gullibility to believe that they will profit from buying the items so that the production of items is worthwhile. Indeed these agencies clearly believe that there are enough gullible potential buyers out there that some some items may be sold for very high prices. 
  Other items sold in "limited editions" of recent times are the preposterous miniature sheet with a minuscule diamond attached to it released by Jersey Post in 2012 to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and sold for a price far in excess of £100 and the set of postally valid "silver" stamps issued by Malta Post last year and sold for more than €300.
  Even the notorious Stamperija has got in on the act by selling most of its numerous philatelic products in "limited editions" of 1000 promoting this feature as a means of increasing the item's desirability.
  Time will tell if those who have "invested" in such items have been canny and whether there are enough people out there who wished to obtain these items, left the purchase too late and found them to be sold out and regret not getting their hands on the items to such a degree that they will be prepared to pay a sizeable premium to obtain the items when the original sellers decide to put  them on the market.

 Secondly, this sheetlet draws our attention to the ever increasing number of "My Stamp" issues. If postal administrations can persuade collectors to buy such items then instead of selling a single stamp the philatelic agency can sell a whole sheet usually at a premium above face value. Thus we have had Royal Mail's Smilers sheets since 2000 and these have become  so-called Generic sheets with the additional extremely overpriced Commemorative sheets - why issue a stamp when you can release a sheet of 10 stamps which sells for 200% above the face of value of the stamps it contains?
  There has been an enormous proliferation of "My Stamp" issues from India Post in the earlier months of 2016 though why anyone would want to use a personalised label on their mail with a stamp that shows, say, Allahabad High Court, is a mystery to me. Singapore Post, too, is issuing large numbers of "My Stamps" and Australia Post has been releasing numerous additional sheetlets on subjects, frequently with little or no relevance to Australia, for some years. 
  In addition to the ability to sell a sheet rather than a single stamp, the "My Stamp" phenomenon probably reflects the decreasing popularity of collecting new commemorative stamps so that philatelic administrations must find alternative forms of new stamp issues to compensate their declining income from traditional stamps - "My Stamps" or "Smilers", "Post and Go" stamps/labels, "Prestige" booklets, gimmick collectables (metallic, diamond-studded, unusually scented, holograms, lenticular etc) and so on. By producing this stuff postal administrations can claim to be keeping their basic new issues under control and to a reasonable level in both numbers of stamps issued and total face value while maintaining and even boosting their income from these other philatelic products which any completist collector will feel the need to include in their stamp collection. 
  Not only do postal administrations and philatelic agencies promote these items but it is also in the interest of philatelic dealers to push these items since the percentage above face value they add to these items also maintains or even boosts their income. Some dealers may therefore be less critical of some of these items and of philatelic agencies and postal administrations than collectors might like them to be because they would be foolish to complain about items which benefit them as well as the producers of these items.

  Canada Post will issue a set of 5 self-adhesive stamps In a booklet of 10 (2 x 5 different 'P' stamps) and a gummed miniature sheet containing all 5 designs on the subject of Dinosaurs of Canada on 26 May 2016. The Ukranian artist, Sergei Krasovsky, has used the original approach of depicting the creatures as though seen in another dinosaur's eye and the stamps' design was completed by Subplot Design Inc. of Vancouver. The issue was lithographed by Lowe-Martin. Rating:- *****. 

  Yet another pair of stamps in the interminable "Think Green" Europa omnibus issue from the ever increasing list of European states, territories, philatelic entities and so on (no doubt in 10 or 20 years time we shall have returned to pre-Napoleonic days when there were literally hundreds of petty European countries all paying tribute to The Holy Roman Empire - though if the Brexiteers are to be believed that state of affairs exists already). I digress - the latest of these eminently dull issues is from the postal administration of The Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus. Like most of the rest of the numerous Europe-wide issues the pair have little merit unless you particularly like green things in which case an entire collection of this year's Europa stamps is essential. Rating:- *.

  In Blog 751 I mentioned the pair of stamps issued by MaltaPost on 9 May as its Europa set for 2016. A booklet of 5 stamps and 1 label was also issued on the same date and the pane included in the booklet is displayed below:-

  Pakistan Post has issued a single stamp to commemorate the 65th anniversary of its diplomatic relations with The People's Republic of China. The issue was lithographed by Pakistan Security Printing Corporation. Rating:- *.


  1. The post office is just catching up where the various national Mints have gone long ago. Canada has been issuing "limited edition" coins for many years now, with the subject matter straying from the traditional "national identity" themes that used to grace them. Eventually, collectors grow wise and give up.

    1. Thank you. When collectors grow wise and give up - what happens then? Do the mints, or in this case,the philatelic agencies, give up as well leaving us with a nice, fairly modest, flow of new issues or do they carry on trying to sell more and more stuff ad infinitum? Or is this likely to be a very long drawn-out process? Best wishes.

  2. I feel that it wlll be a long drawn out process. he marketing arm rules, and until they really hit a wall, excuses will flow and the deluge will continue. In the meantime. some collectors like me will concentrate on older issues. Rgds,