Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pricing of modern Estonian stamps in catalogs

Recently I've had many trades and people keep asking from me for a modern used Estonia, of course what most miss from their collections are commemoratives. Especially recent few years when usage of mail and printing numbers have droped considerably.
I can imagine this is pretty much the same with all the tiny or small countries in Europe and elsewhere.
Somewhere in philatelic forum I saw a mention that there are dealers in existance who charge four figures per KG of certain small countries kiloware.

And now to the question - isn't pricing in Michel, SG, Scott quite off the reality? I can completely understand that there is NO way creators of these catalogs would know the philatelic situation of every or any small country. But in such case as pricing does not reflect the reality, should catalogs be used at all for modern stamps of small countries?
I can only speak for stamps of my country. Also don't have Y&T modern, only classic. So maybe situation it's different there.

Let me give you a couple of examples. 1997 issue, coin on stamp, 100kr (krooni/crowns) face value.
SG302 £8.50 mint £4.25 used.
Sc363 $17 for both
Michel 346, both €14
Face value of 100kr is a bit over 6 euros, 5 pounds, about 9 USD.
Printing number 51800.
Now, as for rates... you really couldn't use it much. Only for very heavy parcels send aboard. In my years I have used only
ONCE 100kr stamp. Because it couldn't be used for any inland rate I've never seen it on any parcel, naturally. As for mint - you can just order it at the face value from Post (unless they've sold out by now).

Perhaps such stamp is not very good example to reflect the general situation as it could be used so scarcely. Yet, 50kr value coin stamp, much more likely to be used is 10€ in Michel, £2.50 in SG, $8.50 in Scott as used. Quite absurd pricing in SG. Half of the face for such a high denomination?
Scott and Michel are a bit closer to realism. Both price used stamps at about double of face value.

I do not have catalogs for 2009-11 but I bet stamps there are still priced at the best on double of face value.
Yet in 2009 there was one issue, Alexander's Cathedral with printing number of only 30000. It was sold out extremely fast, from what I know most of it fell into the hands of philatelists. Estonian Post also sends quite a bit of any stamp issued aboard. Plus there are year packages. So many small Post Offices never got this stamp. I'm not sure if I've seen at all any commercially used covers. Even mint is scarce, as demand was so high. It sold easily for up to 6-7 times of face value and at the very least 2-3 of face. Yet, no doubt it will be priced at double of face value in catalogs. As would be any issues of recent years, which all have much lower printing amounts than before 2009. All commemoratives now get printed by 50000 compared to the earlier 100000 and higher.

And let's not forget how much stamps get commercial usage. Most clerks and business workers will gladly put on peel-and-stick definitives. Besides atleast in Estonia, billing has moved more and more into the web. Not to mention that common folk only send letter or postcard once per year, during Christmas, using... you got it, Christmast stamps!

Indeed quite many issues are priced seemingly unfairly. 1991-1993 inflation period stamps... everybody bought sheets of them, perhaps fearing Estonia will not last very long as independent country and hoping these will become scarce. Collectors aboard also thought the same and paid high prices for the first definitive set. Yet most of these stamps can be now very valuable on letters and hard to find as used. I do not see this in catalogs pricing though.

Perhaps more realistic would be localy produced catalog. Hopefuly this year a new catalog by Mart Aru will be published here. This time much more complex, with colored photos and up to date pricing.

And as for pre-war Estonia, it can also be said only in recent years Michel has started to give a proper pricing to certain issues. But Scott and especially SG do not list certain important types or have them significantly undervalued. For example 1940 issues, scarcely used before Estonia was incoroprated into the USSR and started to use Soviet stamps.
I hope that one day they will ask from Estonian collectors for some input.