As a group the Scandinavian countries have been among the more responsible postal authorities issuing stamps in volumes geared more for need than for profit, i.e. collectors. This makes them a better candidate for consideration by those collectors who have more than a passing interest in their collection’s residual value. Still, price appreciation by country has been mixed both by country and by time period. A close study of the accompanying table tells a variety of stories.
The table reflects the performance of stamps cataloging $25 or more and issued through 1950. (Note: The 1950 cutoff accounts for why Aland Islands and Faroe Islands are not included in this analysis.) The 5 and 10 year appreciation numbers reflect the changes in catalog values over the last 5 and 10 years. The appreciations are calculated for all items values up to $500 and those valued at over $500. This breakdown is done because the higher priced items unduly distort the numbers and, generally, appreciate at a faster rate. This is because they have a larger audience of buyers, i.e. investors, and sell mostly at auction where pricing information is more transparent.
The top appreciation performers were Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Greenland mint stamps showed the steepest declines which is odd since their average stamp price is the lowest . In fact, it is the only country where the average used price is higher than mint. Iceland shows one of the highest per stamp values and additionally, sports huge premiums for mint never hinged material. This appears due to the low per stamp issuance volume. I would caution collectors about paying such premiums given their greater vulnerability to market declines and to regumming. Finland is unusual in that its used stamps are close to the average mint stamps which also have the highest per stamp value of all countries. Norway has the lowest ratio of used to mint prices which, combined with their overall performance makes Norwegian used stamps the sweet spot for future appreciation.
We show dollar values for each country to give an idea of how much it would take to build a complete collection for each country, less the over $500 items of course. While the stamp selections for each country represent about eighty percent of the catalog value for all stamps of that country, we can expect to buy at well below full catalog for the listed items, so the remaining stamps should not increase the total cost for a fairly complete collection (less the +$500 items) above the values shown.
The steady decline in most retail stamp prices reflects the effect of the Internet which has become the principal engine today for stamp sales, an effect that will only grow. Technological changes on the horizon will only accelerate this process, changes that will make stamp dealing more efficient. However, I also foresee changes which will make it possible for collectors to achieve higher recoveries for their collections and that should prove to be the element that gives confidence to collectors to buy.
If you have a serious interest in Scandinavia, you need to avail yourself of the Facit Norden 2018 or the Facit Special Classic 2018 catalogs. They are bilingual and offer the best guide on current pricing. These catalogs can be obtained through Sweden’s Postiljonen auction house and www.facit.se
APPRECIATION @ <$500 APPRECIATION @>$500
COUNTRY # ITEMS $ VALUE 5YR % 10YR % 5YR % 10YR %
SWEDEN - MINT 180 $28,364 -0.4% -0.4% 0.6% 0.6%
SWEDEN - USED 102 $8,782 -1.3% -1.3% 34.5% 31.9%
NORWAY - MINT 95 $11,937 9.6% 9.4% 3.4% 4.6%
NORWAY - USED 66 $5,562 7.3% 14.8% 5.3% 2.1%
DENMARK-MINT 199 $29,414 8.1% 8.2% 2.5% 29.0%
DENMARK-USED 135 $16,546 3.6% 65.4% 3.5% 38.1%
FINLAND - MINT 82 $1,673 7.7% 26.1% 1.6% 0.0%
FINLAND-USED 100 $18,376 -1.1% 31.8% 10.3% 39.8%
GREENLND-MINT12 $1,072 -18.7% -4.0% -21.0% 17.3%GREENLND-USED 12 $1,347 -6.2% -4.0% -14.7% -14.7%
ICELAND-MINT 187 $30,801 14.3% 6.8% 2.7% 2.7%
ICELAND-USED 116 $12,567 -6.1% 11.4% -3.2% 9.5%