Fine condition scarce or rare Indian stamps are a very worthwhile investment. In fact, from an investment upside viewpoint, the rarer the better! Along with China, investment grade Indian stamps are the most lucrative specialised investment within philatelic investment as a whole, which itself is quite a contrarian facet of the Collectables Asset Class in general.
A sustained long term growth value prospect is possible due to various inherent factors. Firstly, there is a predicable increasing number of affluent Indians, both domestic-based, and part of the Indian global diaspora, whom are interested in acquiring their cultural heritage – of which Indian philately is a part. Much of the finest material is spread around the world, especially in the UK, Europe, and USA. This dynamic is sure to give upside the investment grade stamps at least into the medium term.
There is also a healthy number of non-Indian individuals, whom are attracted to the rich diversity, and challenge of grasping the many specialised areas of Indian philately. Often the most active are generally quite affluent people, professionals, medical people, academics, IT specialists, or sometimes financial traders looking to diversify their portfolios in a more engaging and interesting way. This diverse interest contributes to a continuous strong Indian stamp market.
A key book both in the definition of listed philatelic items, and current market value for them is the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth Catalogue currently 2019 edition. In its Preface over the last 10 years, India and Indian States has featured every year as a specific area highlighted, where there has been strong growth in value, based on global auction results. Only certain parts of Australian philately have come even close to this phenomenal sustained growth.
The dynamics of scarcity and rarity in stamps, works similarly to all types of collectables asset class. Generally, the scarcer or rarer the stamp, the better the investment performance potential is likely to be, especially when that underlying area of philately is so strong!
To a degree it is better to invest in a very fine example and a very scarce stamp, rather than a mediocre copy of a rare stamp. When you get to the absolute rarest, when only a few examples are known, then condition can become more secondary. However, condition is the underpinning of everything else when investing. Not always so easy to find rare stamps or even scarce, in super condition, as not many perhaps exist, and then what price would you need to pay to acquire it, in relationship to the Stanley Gibbons benchmark market value?!
Other vital aspects to consider when investing at
the higher end of the stamp market, are provenance & expertisation.
The importance of expertisation when investing
in scarce or rare stamps is vital to different people in different ways. For
many collectors, expertisation is simply a means of ensuring that a stamp is
genuine. For others more knowledgeable, whom might already be sure about a
stamp, acquiring a certificate, or gaining exertisation after acquisition, is a
way of locking in a potential higher re-sale value, at some unknown future
point! Perhaps a purist collector, whom specialises in a certain facet of Indian
philately, whom buys an item knowing it genuine, might understand better than
anyone on any expertisation committee, and anyway may never intend to sell anything
from their beloved collection.
When considering certifying valuable more specifically
Indian stamps, the most appropriate expertisation must be the one based on the
depth and breadth of knowledge of those individuals applying their signatures to
the certificate. Based on that premise, the BPA (British Philatelic
Association) are the most appropriate expertisation body for certifying Indian
- the place of origin or earliest known history of something), is a record
of ownership of a stamp, used as a guide to authenticity. However, in my view,
a recent BPA certificate is more important in terms of investment than provenance.
In reality, it does illustrate that an important ‘high end’ rare stamp has long-standing
recognition as such, but is more of an ‘trophy item’ indicator for the most passionate
collector’s. For example, a key stamp with the tag Ex-Desai, or Ex- Koh-i-Nor,
in the description would certainly hold more value, depending on condition, and
veracity of any certificate.