The MoneyStamp Ratings will be displayed as MSR1 to MSR10. The rating scale was developed by Richard Lehmann, a long-time fixed income columnist with Forbes magazine as well as an independent portfolio manager and income investment author. The ratings bring financial analysis techniques developed for the securities industry to philately. The Scott Catalogue price histories are used to measure the performance of a stamp since they are the most reliable historical record. While the absolute Scott prices are above actual market prices in any given year, this has little effect on the analysis since the percentage changes in dealer prices will be the same since the industry discount from these benchmark prices don’t change from year to year.

     The MoneyStamp ratings are assigned based on weighing various factors and then measured on a scale of one to ten with the designation MSR 1 to MSR10. To be considered, a stamp must have been issued prior to 1951 and have already achieved a price of $25 or more. Some of the major elements that go into assignment of ratings are as follows:

  • The short-term appreciation (1 to 10 years depending on when the country was last reviewed by Scott)
  • The long-term appreciation (25 years)
  • The price level of the stamp
  • The popularity of the country of issue
  • The quantity of issue and other unique characteristics

     Stamps rated MSR 1 to MSR 4 are issues which meet the value and time criteria to be considered for investment purposes but have so far demonstrated low appreciation rates or lack other attributes that would point to above average future performance. They are however judged likely to at least hold their value going forward or they would not be rated at all. Other stamps that meet the time and value criteria have not been given a rating because they don’t have sufficient price histories or are of only recent recognition or discovery.

     Note that in very few cases do stamps which have achieved a price level of $25 or more decline in value. This will happen if a country falls out of favor with collectors, if the currency of the country drops in value, if the country or stamp has been subject to price manipulation, or a number of other stamp specific factors that occasionally occur. In any case, a price decline should not be of great concern except when the price of a stamp in the thousands of dollars price range suddenly rises or falls for no apparent reason. As with securities, diversification is the proper safeguard.

     Stamps rated from MSR 5 to MSR10 are those judged likely to appreciate at greater than the rate of inflation. They will generally have appreciated at least 4% or more per year for the last 25 years and have other strong attributes. While one might feel they should concentrate on only MSR 8 to MSR10 rated issues for the best returns, they will find that these issues are harder to find and will sell at a higher percentages of catalog price.