Stamp Collecting: Hobby as Investment

January 18th, 2014

For many people nowadays stamp collecting is far from a hobby, but an investment option. presents short stories on some Indian philatelists who turned their stamp collecting hobby into an investment.

An Indian philatelist C. Selvaraj has made up his stamp collection on Bhaskara Sethupathy (1868-1903), the raja of Ramnad. These stamps were issued in 2004 and Selvaraj bought a sheet of 40 stamps for Rs. 700 at a philately exhibition in Pune. More recently, it was another sheet for Rs.900. The dealer originally quoted Rs.1,500 but agreed to sell it for less. As explains Selvaraj, philately is a buyer's market and it's always the right time to build your collection.

Selvaraj participates in philately and coin exhibitions across India. He has Tamil Naducommemorative stamps (mint or unused). In whole, the postal department of India issued about 2,500 commemorative stamps from 1947 to 2013. Selvaraj has the entire collection including stamps on buildings such as the High Court, mosques, churches, personalities such as MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan, freedom fighters.

Commemorative stamps are significant because they are limited in numbers. Selvaraj explains that in the years 70s and 80s more commemorative stamps were issued and often over 10 lakhs. It was the moment when philately and coin collection picked up.

Now, for example, if commemorative stamps of Sivaji Ganesan are issued, they are fewer and so always in demand.

Selvaraj also has a set of 263 coins in copper nickel and silver, the British India coins issued between 1835 and 1947. Rajagopal's special set of coins include Rs.75, Rs.60, and Rs.100 denomination. The latest is the Rs.1,000 Tanjore coin issued on the Bragadeeshwarar temple. Selvaraj considers stamp collecting enriches people and keepsthem away from bad habits.

A. Nazeer Ahamed who keeps a medical shop visits philatelic websites to update his knowledge on stamps. He has collected stamps for 20 years. He has commemorative stamps, stamps that never got cancelled, and some valuable ones like Beghum Akthar (1993) and water birds (1944) that were issued in soluble ink. The soluble ink affected the quality of the stamps that is why the postal department withdrew them. Now, they are rare. He has also stamps on Rajkumar Shukla (2000) issued in limited numbers.

A retired tailor A. Ramalingamhas been collecting stamps for 40 years. He began collecting at school, and now the stamps for him are an asset worth many lakhs. Now he has a large collection from the Gandhi stamp issued in 1947 to the recent issue of Ekalavya in December 2013. A rare stamp of Gandhiissued in Rs.10 denomination in 1948, costs, for instance, over Rs.30,000 now. His son A. Suresh continues enlarging the collection.

However philatelists warn that investing in stamps should be done with care. There are catalogues issued by philatelic clubs that list the stamps with their value for buying and selling purposes. Thousands of philatelic bargains take place everyday on the online auctions. Collectors from around the world meet online regularly to discuss and exchange stamps.

Stamp collecting is called the hobby of the kings – many rich and noble people were attracted by stamps as investment in all times.George V was an ardent stamp collector and the top 10 rich people of the world such as the Sultanate of Brunei, Queen Elizabeth, Princess of Monaco and Princess of Spain have a number of investment portfolios, including stamps.