Due to a tight schedule of commitments we are doing this short retrospect and forecast one month earlier than we normally do. That leads us to totally different facts: The normal or quite unusual important final sales at the end of the year have naturally not been dealt with .The sales figures at present are therefore not comparable to those of the previous years where extraordinary high losses in shares had repercussions also in the philatelic field as well as all relatively close fields of investments like painting and other art collecting valuables.
We had after an incredible boom in “ new markets” with absurd gains and even higher losses in 2000/2001. Just so, in the “new” shares of technology values, which were highly speculative and where you had to decide yourself whether you wished to take the risk or rather not. This year we had even serious disasters with “Blue Chip” shares previously regarded as safe and sound suddenly in danger and taking an unlikely turn. There is hardly any share investor who did not suffer and who is regretting the good time of earlier years.
As one says in our branch, the new catalogue is being prepared and when the lots will be offered for sale from approximately mid December, then the last quarter of the year is not yet analysed. One has no idea and cannot give any comment. However, in my opinion it appears that there are now many collectors who would like to fill the gaps in their collection but who simply lack the money due to the present situation. They virtually have to start afresh making money. I see also very clearly one negative point in the consumers’ mood, which is not looking too good. One heard so much bad news in the economy and of repulsive management reactions .It is natural that people are afraid to lose their job or are generally afraid to think about the future. Normally this happens always in times in which all consumer branches show a drop in sales. It would be very extraordinary if we in philately would be able to avoid it. On the other hand there are - in my opinion - also absolutely positive signs for the future, which we should closely examine, especially in such a difficult time like the present, where a cool head is necessary to analyse them.
- Also in this rather difficult market of 2001 which had liquidations of entire companies and losses of entire first class investment portfolios sold at rock bottom prices (see Ebner shares), we never ever witnessed losses in philately. Never ever any well-known stock was sold throwaway price or has even come up for sale. In a recession this kind of bad luck could have happened to us because many collectors would have sold “unnecessary” values at any price (as they did at the stock exchanges everywhere). Then we would have had a serious drop in prices.
- Luckily we can say that it did not happen. Prices for stamps remained firm and moved very little during the 2001. We can even say that the stamp offer has gone down in comparison to 2000. We are complaining about not finding enough philatelic material.
- with regards to sales - in any event from my view - I can say that nothing has changed. I am not talking about increases in comparison with last year but in comparison with turnovers until today, which show already a big success!
- The inflation rate is very low, you can forget this factor more or less in Switzerland. It may be more important for you that I don’t foresee any important change for 2003. The interest rate will remain very low. This will relieve the market to a great extent.
- You have no problem to recommend classic Swiss stamps to an investor. After the partly colossal losses at the stock exchange, a market with steadily rising prices will be accepted as a paradise investment. I see it as an investment possibility notabene, which equally gives to the owner real pleasure. This is in my opinion the most important point when making an assessment:
- Collecting stamps, especially the old classic stamps, should be foremost give you pleasure! Give you pleasure and let you relax from the daily stress. You should not ask how much you would gain with stamps but measure this interest with the pleasure you will be having with your stamp collection. The pleasure would be greater if somebody honest advised you and someone who is an expert on the subject. You should see the satisfaction of those collectors, who followed my advice two years ago and even one year ago to buy classic Swiss stamps and turned their back on the stock exchange.
- Even if you are not a big connoisseur of old Swiss classic stamps, you can buy every early classic Cantonal stamp issue without fear that you are entering an overheated market. On the contrary, we have as always a buyers market, in which we have hardly any crisis. The offer is sufficient to satisfy the demand without boiling over in any field.
Cantonals are still as before underrated. You should seize here the opportunity to search also for better cancellations, which are today in comparison a little more expensive. Look also for covers, which are not at all overpriced.
Rayons started in the last years to enjoy a bigger demand; surely people try to find them for plate reconstructions. Especially the rare printing plate numbers are hard to find in quantities. Rare cancellations, multiples ( pairs, strips or blocks) as well as covers have always been interesting and should not be missing in any collection.
Strubeli and Sitting Helvetia perforated belong already to the most popular collecting fascination for regional collectors, who collect the cancellations of one canton, one region or one single town. This is the ideal collection for a person, who has not too much money or who would start a second collection. If you start collecting rare frankings and in majority on cover to rare destinations, you will start looking for rare material which is highly appreciated by the most advanced big collector. Exaggerated prices for such material have eased off in the last year. You will be able to find these at reasonable prices.
Unused stamps of the classic period are fortunately collected much more than it was the case 10 or 20 years ago. That is good news since these are as a rule much scarcer than the used ones .The prices for unused stamps have strong potential to increase in future.
Birthday collections: is the title of a collection consisting of single stamps or covers, which postmarks carry all the same date, month, and if possible are used in different years- all in many different varieties of cancellations or postmarks. Such a gathering (you cannot call it a collection, because as a rule one can gather only a couple of pages) is in my opinion the best way for a new collector to get into the hobby. Such a collection could be easily passed on to a possible successor, sons or daughters, grand children, godchildren etc. who still has no experience in philately,. The collection may have been built up with the birth date of the son or grandson, which he would find easier to understand and wish to continue. He will immediately have a relation to the collection because it will be personal and special. Other collections left to children are normally sold immediately. This one he will respect and gradually love the subject and become a collector himself. This reason must have been surely your aim when you wished to pass on the collection?
We all are interested to promote philately and get recruitment into our hobby. We as dealers try very hard and spare no effort. Recruits of collectors can mean that we talk of schoolchildren but need not be. Why can’t a retired pensioner become a stamp collector, now when he has time and perhaps for the first time in his life, has found a hobby tailored to his pocket and his liking? Therefore my request at the end of my article: Please help us with your own purchases (if it is possible for you), to bridge this a little difficult period and to cheer up the general sombre mood of consumers. Look around and find a successor or a new collector, best out of the blue, not from a philatelic club or a dealer. It is not important whether you find somebody for your collection but that you talk to people around you and show them how wonderful our hobby is. We have to find new collectors. It will serve us all, you, who wishes to pass on your collection into good collector’s hands or wishes to sell for a fair price and finally also for us dealers, who live from dealing in stamps and who have to be in a position to buy and sell at a fair price to somebody existing or new and equally to buy back at a mutual satisfying price. I would have a bad conscience to sign this article with my name without thanking those close people who made it possible to publish this catalogue, my wife and our youngest daughter, numerous relatives, who are traditionally involved with the mailing and especially my son Markus, who has edited this catalogue without my help. You will find his work also under this website!
It is my wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your purchases and contacts in the year 2002 and to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy peaceful New Year
All the best
Schmerikon 18th, December 2002