It seems there is nothing more british than philately. The immense possibilities for British Commonwealth stamp collecting covers a wide spectrum of fifty-four countries located in five continents. Now known as the Commonwealth of Nations, most of the independently ruled countries were once part of the British Empire and originally included nearly 100 locations. Because each country has a history ruled both through a monarchy and with an independent counsel, a diverse selection of british commonwealth stamps have been issued in the last century. Many of the stamps feature a monarch that reigned within a specific period while others feature distinct flora, fauna or natural landmarks found within the region. Because this group of commonwealth stamps covers a large range, a good method of organizing this collection is by sorting individual countries and then by establishing a date of issue for each collectible stamp.
Many stamp collectors begin their hobbies with newly released samples or choose favorite designs and colors. Collecting a series from New Zealand, for instance, or working on all of the British Commonwealth nations in Africa makes a fun project. For the experienced collector, adding historical stamps enhances the challenge and increase the value of the collection. By adding british commonwealth stamps from former british colonies such as Hong Kong, India and Pakistan, a unique collection may be developed over time. Stamps that depict events related to both former and current British rule, for example, the conflict in the Falkland Islands are always popular and highly collectible.
Collectible British Commonwealth Stamps
Virtually any stamp that features a past monarch will hold some value to collectors of British Commonwealth books. Stamps that were issued to celebrate a specific event such as King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935, King George VI’s coronation in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II’s accession in 1952 were issued in limited amounts and only for a short period. Finding these stamps can be challenging but worth the effort. A more recent event, the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday in the year 2000 presented an opportunity for a limited issue stamp release that is now a collectible item and increases in value each year. Collectors who watch for new issues related to political events or commemorating a unique phase in history add value to their hobbies.
Rare British Commonwealth Stamps
queen victoria, 1897
During the late 1800’s, the Victorian era dominated much of the British Commonwealth and stamps produced during that period are a valuable find today. Stamps issued during the relatively short period between when postage stamps became available to the public in 1840 and the next fifty years are a valuable find. Stamps from newly settled areas or those that featured lower production are highly desirable to collectors. For example, a Never Hinged block of Newfoundland stamps dating from 1897 that features a profile of Queen Victoria recently became available at auction for over 5000 pounds. Individual british commonwealth stamps from the same region in good condition, particularly if never used, may draw 10 to 20 pounds per unit. Also in the Victorian era, stamps issued in territories with lesser populations such as Turks and Caicos Island may be harder to find and therefore more costly. As with other antique items, older stamps in prime condition will be the most expensive and tradable with other collectors.
Where to Buy British Commonwealth Stamps
Stamp collectors today enjoy several options to purchase new additions. Using the various Internet sites that both auction and sell at a fixed price provides a valid means for securing a specific stamp. The advantage is the ability to research and quickly purchase a missing item from a collection. The disadvantage, however, is that the actual condition and quality of the stamp may be difficult to determine. Most of the reliable websites include a clear photo but for those collectors who insist on perfect quality, finding a dealer where the stamps may be viewed in person is a preferred option. Here are some websites you may find useful:
Specialty stores that sell coins, stamps and small collectibles are often found in the larger metropolitan areas. Antique stores are another valid source for locating rare and valuable stamps. A collector who uses the Internet for general pricing knowledge and purchases the stamps through a store or dealer often ends up finding the best pricing and locating the preferred quality samples.