Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Indefinite Rate Stamps for Fun or Profit?

Looking through my personal collection last week my attention was drawn to an album containing early Non Value Indicated booklets which I admit were in a bit of a mess and demanded a tidy up. My fist thoughts other than "what a mess" were " I wander if these stamps have kept up with inflation"

Many philatelists do say they do not collect stamps for investment, yet over the years it is evident through dealers prices that certain stamps do increase in value, some more than others. Indefinate Rate Stamps are just one example, that is if one hangs on to them long enough. It is obvious that these must increse in value with every postage rate rise, which is normally 1 or 2 pence during April every year.

N V I s ( None Value Indicated ), Indefinate Rate Stamps, Forever Stamps, or what ever you want to call them were fisrt introduced in Britain in the late 1980s. These originally consisted of booklets of 10 printed by Harrison & sons in Photogravure and booklets of 4 printed by Walsall in Litho.

New colours were adopted for these booklets, the stamp colours said "to resemble the 1d black and 2d blue, 1st class stamps (black) and 2nd class (light blue)". Both were released to the general public via post offices and retail outlet shops by the Royal Mail on 22nd August 1989. They were also released later on 19th September 1989 in booklets of 10 printed in litho by The House of Questa

The first NVI stamps at the time of issue had a decimal value (postage rate) of 14p (light blue) 2nd class and 19p (black) covering first class. I have been informed that "these colours ( a change from dark blue and Red respectively) were introduced to get the pubic used to the colours in preperation for the double headed stamps which were to be issued during the following year for 150th anniversary of the 1d black (1840 - 1990)".

However thats another story for another time, so back to my exersise. What I was most interested to see was if these were ( have been ) a good investment over the past 20 years. Most of the booklets in my collection were purchased at face value during the time of issue and dumped into albums to be sorted. Hence the mess I mentioned earlier.

After the initial tidy up, my first calculation was to compare them with todays basic inland rates for which they are still valid for postage. Todays basic rates (2008) are 27p for 2nd class and 36p for 1st class. This gives single stamps purchased from this era at face a base profit margin of 13p for 2nd class and 17p for 1st class, that is if I or anyone wished to to use them for postage.

The table below shows what each individual booklet cost at the time of issue, the value in brackets now in 2008 if used for postage and lastly a main dealers average catalogue or selling prices today.

There were several more issues during the the following next few months, If you were lucky enough to pick up these booklets with a blind hole, missing phosphor or low OBA, then these are in great demand by booklet specialists and carry a premium over and above the prices listed below. Booklets with covers printed by Walsall which contain stamps printed by Harrisons also fetch an extra premium.

It should be noted from the statement above that specialist catalogue prices can vary as to the rarity of the booklet cover, make up, perforations and so on. So in order to make this exersise as simple as possible am only going to list a few of the lowest or basic prices.

This is the Original cost or face value of the stamps in August 1989

1st class (single) 19p
2nd class (single) 14p

Booklet of 4 x 1st class 76p
Booklet of 10 x 1st class 1.90p
Booklet of 4 x 2nd class 56p
Booklet of 10 x 2nd class 1.40p


What the stamps are worth today face value

singles may be cut or Imperf top or bottom

todays value base profit on original purchase in brackets

1st class (single) 36p (17p)
2nd class (single) 27p (13p)

Booklet of 4 x 1st class £1.44p (68p)
Booklet of 10 x 1st class £3.60p (1.70p)
Booklet of 4 x 2nd class £1.08p (52p)
Booklet of 10 x 2nd class £2.70p (1.30p)

Current Dealer or catalogue prices 2007

todays catalogue value base profit on original purchase in brackets

1st class (single) 1.20p (£1.01p)
2nd class (single) 45p (31p)

imperf top or bottom + right or left
1st class (single) 2.50p (£2.21p)
2nd class (single) 1.50p (£1.36p)

Booklet of 4 x 1st class 4.50p (£3.74p)
Blind at base 8.50p (£7.74p)
Booklet of 10 x 1st class 7.50p (£5.60p)
Booklet of 4 x 2nd class 4.00p (£3.54p)
Blind at base 7.25p (£6.69p)
Booklet of 10 x 2nd class 6.00p (£4.60p)

Comparing the prices above to the exisiting catalogue prices in 2004 these booklets have risen roughly 25p a year each ( which is basicly the line of inflation)

This figure amounts to about £1.00 per booklet over the period of 4 years. What will they be worth roughly in another 20 years time? Using the calculations or rates in figures (not percentages),just add onother £5 to the figures per booklet this will give you the total. (see below an example)

Todays Catalogue Value Base Profit on Original Purchase

IE: Booklet of 10 x 2nd class (2008) 6.00p (£4.60p)

Booklet of 10 x 2nd class + £5.00 11.00p (£9.60p)

Does this indicate that a basic first class stamp will cost 52p and a basic second class stamp 39p in 2028? Who will be on the throne? Chas or Wills? Will we still have postage stamps in 2028 or dreaded postage labels?

Assuming we do still have postage stamps, 2p per year to each rate is more of a realistic rise which with this figure give a rise a basic first sevice costing in the region of 76p and a basic second class sevice 67p.

Or then again if we get back to reality by this time (2028) The pound sterling will be worthless and Britain will most surely have adopted the Euro by then. The Eurocrats will demand that we have one overall President and if we do have postage
stamps they may well be general European Stamps with a presidents head ( not the monarchs) in the corner.

A dreaded thought just hit me, the NVI stamps may even be worthless as postage (as were pre decimal stamps).Catalogue prices may drop like stones from heaven. And if they do drop it makes this just another pointless exersise.

Well we did say we collect stamps for fun , not profit. Why worry? We may all be wearing wooden overcoats by then. Whatever the future holds, my NVI stamps are now sort of tidy after 20 years and I have had fun writing about them. I have also given you food for thought, if not, kept you amused or just plain old entertained.

As a last note I notice that we have had a few comments left. May I thank those who responded to the request. Robert, if you would like to post on this site please email my self or Larry we would love to have you on board.



nnnnnn said...

Larry, excellent .. very interesting and one day I will sort my many booklets.. who know what I will find.. I used to have a habit of randomly buying booklets from stamp vending machines while on many visits to variosu parts of the UK ....just to see what I would get :-)

Keep up the good writings.. I for one enjoy your work

Michael cddstamps

larry said...


This was Roy's post, not mine. I certainly don't want to take credit for his good work.

I know lots of collectors who would pop a few coins in the vending machines. I was only able to do this once or twice on my visits to the UK, and I didn't get anything special.