The primary focus of my stamp collection, still in its infancy, is New Zealand stamps prior to 1970.  But I’m also planning some topical subsets of elephants, tigers, and dinosaurs.

I’ve spent most of the early days learning about New Zealand’s stamps and acquiring a few.  Last night, someone in a Facebook group happened to post about some African (Kenya Uganda Tanganyika) animal-themed stamps, and suddenly I was interested in adding some animal stamps to my collection.

This was the stamp that initially caught my eye.  A nice photo of a couple of elephants, with an inset photo of Queen Elizabeth II.  I know what you’re thinking – such a work of art from more than a half century ago (1958) should be worth a lot of money.  How much did it cost me?  19 cents.  I picked up a few dozen items from this seller (located in South Africa), with nothing costing more than a dollar.  A few items were priced as low as 9 cents.

This is the point where I mention the difference between stamp collecting and stamp investing.  If you’re buying a 60+ year old stamp for 19 cents, the odds of it ever appreciating significantly is basically zero.  If something that old has minimal value, it generally means that a ton of them were printed.  When there’s such a high supply, it’s likely that there will always be enough supply to meet the demand, meaning that the price will always be low.

Why would I bother to buy a “worthless” stamp?  Because I am not a stamp investor, but rather a stamp collector.  I don’t expect my collection to ever be worth very much money.  The stamps I add to my collection will be ones that look nice and/or have an interesting history.  This is especially true of stamps in my elephant, tiger, and dinosaur topical subsets.  While I might buy an “ugly” New Zealand stamp simply because I need it to complete a set, my animal sets have no such structure.  I can pick an choose freely.  I snapped up several other elephant stamps from a number of other countries, but I also passed over many other stamps.  The stamps I opted not to purchase were too bland, too modern, or in some cases, too expensive (although none of the ones I looked at were more than ten dollars).

Once I locked in on my seller, I looked around to see what else he might have.  When you’re buying cheap stamps like I am, you want to buy a bunch from the same seller, so that you don’t end up paying more for shipping than you do for the stamps.  It doesn’t make any sense to buy a single 19 cent stamp and pay to have it shipped from South Africa.

While I was on my elephant hunt, I noticed (and bought) nice examples of giraffes, lions, and zebras.  These animals weren’t officially on my list of things to collect, but they looked cool and were cheap, so I bought them.  Then I turned my focus to tigers.  I picked up a handful of early 20th century stamps from Malaya.  Not very flashy – since the stamp technology of the time often necessitated stamps of just a single color – but they should serve as a nice foundation for my tiger collection.

Then I turned to New Zealand.  First I picked up a few Queen Victoria sideface stamps from the 1880s.  Not particularly scarce stamps, but I’m still very early in the collecting process, so there are still a lot of stamps I still need.

Finally, I snapped up a cool dinosaur stamp for 9 cents.  This nicely intersects with my New Zealand and dinosaur interests.  It doesn’t look to be in great shape – there appears to be a horizontal crease in the middle – but I was already buying several other items, so it made sense to go ahead and spend the 9 cents.  This stamps features a carnosaur (T-rex type of dino) about the engage in a battle with a sauropod (brontosaurus type).  Great image.

In about 45 days (or perhaps a bit more), I’ll have the actual stamps in my hands.  Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with the pride of (future) ownership.

That’s the end of today’s Phriday Philately.

Do you collect stamps?  If so, what do you collect – and why?


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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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