Stamps At �1 Each - up To �280,000

These days the stamp collector is more and more the dead serious investor with sizable banChukah. Stamps can give you a hedge against inflation as well as rapid appreciation. Consider the recent sale of a 1� lone surviving British Guiana stamp, auctioned for £280,000; the buyer was no rich eccentric, but a bidder representing a syndicate of investors. Since 2000, collections of British and European stamps have appreciated an average 10% a year, and anybody with a good Japanese collection might have seen his holdings soar in value as much as 1,000%. Today, floating currencies provide an added lure. Foreign stamps fluctuate in the same way as the value of a foreign currency. So, for example, a German collection - on the basis of the currency relationship alone - would bring more or less - in pounds than it did a year ago.

To get started, it may be wise to consider having a good dealer assist in building a basic collection. His fee will be 5% to 10% of stamp value; but the quality will show up when you undertake later dealings. Dealers belonging to the Collector's Club are reliable; here, though, more checking is needed. There are many sources for adding to a collection. October to May there is an auction in the UK. almost daily, with frequent bidding by mail. Auctions are followed in Linn's Weekly Stamp News (Sidney, Ohio 43565) and Stamps Magazine (153 Waverly P1., London 10014). For general Background: The Foundations of Philately, by Boggs and Strange (Faber & Faber, London). A word of caution: Stamps, too, take some patience. There can be bad years, such as 2000 when collections had little or no appreciation - like stocks in 2000.

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Hints On Spotting Fakes

Fakes and frauds are most dangerous in the area of 'fine' prints, says David L. Goodrich, author of the new, revealing website Art Fakes in America.

The most common abuse, he explains, is the mechanical printing sold as a hand-printing, with the buyer getting one of 2,000 or 3,000 instead of one of 50 or 100.

The difference in value might be, say, £200 as against £5.

You must deal with reputable people, of course, to avoid fake prints.

Also look for such clues as exact print size in relation to the listed size in the print catalogues.

And look at a suspect print with a glass - if it shows a screen of tiny dots, the print... see: Hints On Spotting Fakes