Wednesday 25 January 2017

908. Royal Mail Bowie Issue Exploits Collectors And Bowie Fans.

  🇬🇧 in Blog 908 I mentioned the set of stamps, miniature sheet and retail booklet which Royal Mail intends to release on 14 March 2017 to commemorate the late David Bowie, a British performer of popular music. In addition to all of that stuff Royal Mail will also sell to collectors and enthusiasts of Bowie's work additional miniature sheets and various collectibles in order to exploit to the maximum the opportunity to cash in on Bowie's popularity.
  I will not deal with the various covers and packs which collectors can thoroughly enjoy discovering for themselves on Royal Mail's Philatelic Bureau website but I do highlight here what Royal Mail describes as "Fan sheets" and the price does indeed leave oneself in need of a fan to fan away the heat generated by it - the first sheet, the "David Bowie Album Art Fan Sheet", contains all 6 basic stamps from the set with a total face value of £6.48p but is being sold for £12.95p.
  There are 3 other sheets - "David Bowie Hunky Dory Fan Sheet", "David Bowie Aladdin Sane Fan Sheet" and "David Bowie Heroes Fan Sheet" - each containing 5 x 1st Class domestic rate stamps (64p) total face value of each sheet therefore being £3.20p - but each sold for £7.50 - that is - more than 100% above face value. Presumably such items will not receive full Catalogue status from Stanley Gibbons Catalogue. The selling point here apart from Bowie's popularity, I suppose, is that the "Album Art" sheet is sold in a limited edition of 10000 and the 3 other sheets are sold in limited editions of 7500 each and the "rarity" justifies the huge mark up in price.
  This is clearly gross exploitation of collectors and Bowie enthusiasts but I'm sure the marketing boys at Royal Mail must know that they can move this stuff and that there are enough people out there willing to dig deep into their pockets to add these "Fan Sheets" to their stamp collections or collections of Bowie memorabilia. So if there's an easy profit to be made who can blame Royal Mail from exploiting the opportunity?

  The total cost of the basic set + miniature sheet +booklet + "Fan sheets" amounts to £50.09p. Exploitation. But there are many out there who will buy all the stuff as willingly as lambs to the slaughter.

Rating:- 0.


  1. Are Bowie fans any less gullible than those of Elvis or Michael Jackson? The amount of **** that has been produced by Stamperija etc, and the blatant bogus material available on the market would suggest that there is a huge market for the pop (& Star Trek, Superman, Marilyn, etc) memorabilia whether or not issued by a postal authority. If it is listed (eg, buy not exclusively, on eBay) as 'stamps', they will buy it - sadly.

    1. I quite agree with you Ian. People will be tempted to buy things which may be priced ridiculously but which are linked to things in which they are interested or to people whom they love or admire.

      People are perfectly free to do so and if it gives them pleasure (though if the memorabilia is highly priced it may also give them pain) then good for them.

      Likewise, if businesses can find desirable items to sell and make a financial profit on them, then good for them too.

      And so the world goes round. But it seems fair to remember that it's not just Stamperija or IGPC which exploit the stamp collector - other philatelic services, which we might naturally think of as "respectable", have sorely tried the new issue collector in recent years.

      What the postage stamp collector needs to ask himself or herself is "Where do postage stamps end and philatelic collectibles begin?" Stamp Catalogue editors frequently do not seem to be as discerning as they should be for fear of upsetting people and if the Catalogue editors list something then collectors feel much more under pressure to add the stuff to their collections than they might otherwise be. It's far easier for an editor to put aside items produced by Stamperija than it is for stuff from Australia Post, Jersey Post or Royal Mail.

      Best wishes.

  2. I think part of the problem with these issues are that some collectors feel "hidebound" to purchase each and every variant that the Royal Mail issues. This is something only they can change by altering the parameters of how they structure their collection.
    Personally, I only buy 1 of each design (i.e. just one of each mint stamp and the miniature sheet) and shun all the obvious collectables which in my view are targeted towards other people. (And given the declining number of traditional stamp collectors it is no surprise that the Royal Mail creates products that try and appeal to those who would never collect stamps as such) I find that is affordable and comes in at around £10 per month / issued which compares favourably with other hobbies.

    1. Hello Elliot,
      Thank you. I agree with every point you make.
      You are quite right that many collectors feel the need to buy everything put out that could be said to be relevant to their collection. This need for completeness is a strange but widespread state of mind and it takes a considerable amount of bravery to say to oneself, "No, I will not buy that item even if it means having a blank space in my collection". Coupled with the need for completion collectors also experience the fear that the one thing which they do not choose to buy is the one thing which will become immensely valuable and therefore not to have bought it represents a great missed opportunity.
      Postal services and philatelic agents exploit this need for completeness and the fear of missing an item of future great value by producing additional items such as the "Fan sheets" and special prestige booklets in limited editions which increase the fear of missing the opportunity to possess something of future worth. And because these items are obtainable in only small numbers their initial selling price may be increased several fold to boost the postal administration's/Philatelic agency's profits.

      I agree that such items, particularly if featuring popular celebrities or films or television programmes, are probably aimed at enthusiasts of such subjects rather than stamp collectors but in the end these items are philatelic items and are difficult for a stamp collector who desires a complete collection to resist. Thus the sale of such objects is good for the producers of them as they have more than one target market.

      Your approach to collecting modern stamps which you mention in your final paragraph seems to be an extremely sensible one and something which I suspect numerous other collectors wish that they had the willpower to copy.

      Best wishes.