WHAT MAKES A STAMP VALUABLE
Generally speaking, the maxim "a thing of beauty is a joy for ever" applies to stamps as to anything else, which has any pretension to being an art-form. For this reason, a great deal of time, trouble and money is expended by postal administrations in selecting competent artist who design postage stamps.
Although exquisite designs is important in assessing a stamp's future prospects, undoubtedly, the chief factor to watch is the number issued. Here the age old law of supply and demand has to be taken into consideration. If Britain issued a commemorative stamp in an edition smaller than 1 Million it "would automatically be a sound investment since there are at least 16 Million collectors in the United Kingdom alone and a vast number abroad who collect British stamps. On the other hand 1 Million copies or a commemorative stamp from Nigeria or Libya are probably more than enough to supply all collectors of these Countries. Many countries publish the print order of their commemorative stamps in advance of their sold and in many cases quantity of stamps have to be destroyed after their period of validity.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Stamps attain their greatest popularity in their own country but most depends on what percentage of the population are stamp collectors. Many countries have as yet little indigenous Philatelic activities. These include the undeveloped countries especially those in regions of high great temperature and humidity, conditions which militate against stamp collection. Most depends, also on the degree of literacy of the people, their living standards, income and the amount or free time available for hobbies.
The most popular countries from a philatelic view point are the European States, especially West Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and United Kingdom. Outside Europe the stamps of the United States and the Common - Wealth Countries such as Canada Australia and New Zealand are among the most popular. Nigerian can associate with these countries as an impetus to philatelic growth.
All things being equal, it is the stamps condition which determines it’s value, and yet this is probably the most difficult factor to assess.
The terms most commonly used to describe a stamp are as follows:-
(i) Unmounted Mint; It has not been affixed to an album page in any way so it's gum is impeccable.
(ii) Mounted Mint: As above but very lightly hinged, bearing exceptionally minute traces of previous stamp mount.
(iii) Unused; Part e.g this indicates a stamp which has been heavily mounted in an album either by hinges or by means of a portion of its gum, but still retains some semblance or original gum (hence the abbreviation: e.g. from original gum).
(iv) Unused; Without gum; an unpostmarked specimen which has none the less been stuck down at sometime, and on being soaked off the album page has its gum wasted away.
(v) Fine used; A stamp with the lightest possible postmark and otherwise intact. Categories I, ii, and v are the ideal standards to aim at. The top prices will always be paid for the finest materials and anything second rate will suffer accordingly. Apart from good gum, the back of a stamp should not be damaged or torn in anyway.
One of the peculiarities of philately is that so much attention and monetary importance should be lavished on errors and imperfections. Paintings, jewellery and antiques suffer considerably in value if their workmanship is faulty, but quite the reverse is the case with stamps. Examples of errors include:-
Stamps with inverted overprint:- They are regarded highly by collectors. Missing colours are also a favourite form of errors. Flaws occasionally occur in printing stamps and where these are constant on one position in the print, they are usually worth a premium.
Another type of error is imperfection where the stamps are normally issued in perforated conditions. Stamps may be found imperforated either horizontally or vertically or completely devoid of perforation. It is not sufficient to have a single copy.
A pair showing no perforation between them is the minimum required to establish that the perforation have not mere been trimmed off with scissors. Watermarks are security marks that the stamps carry. Errors in watermarks are not so popular with collectors because they are not so obvious as imperforation or misplaced colours. In Nigeria like other postal administrations, production of stamps is initiated by the motives of issuing such stamps.
This has brought about the theme or concept of stamp issues. Stamp issues are divided into two categories based on the concepts i.e. commemorative/social issues and definitive issues.