Stanley Gibbons expects inflation boost to dealing in stamps and coins

Stanley Gibbons expects stamp and coin enthusiasts to benefit from rising prices for their collections, as inflationary pressures push investors to hedge against inflation.

Graham Shircore, chief executive of the collectibles dealer, said on Tuesday there was “some evidence that real assets tend to do reasonably well during periods of heightened inflation . . . stamps and coins have shown to be at the better end of the spectrum.” 

Talk of the increasing potential for investors to hedge against inflation by buying real assets comes as gold rose to its highest level in more than a month on Monday, reaching a peak of $1,998 a troy ounce before falling back to $1,977.

Shircore said any tangible increase in value for stamps and coins would become clear by the end of the year and the company said it was “by no means taking this for granted”.

However, he said a series of record sales “would suggest the higher end is going through a period of price appreciation”.

A US coin sold last year for $18.9mn in an auction at Sotheby’s in New York, breaking its own record set in 2002 when it went for $7.6mn. 

Stanley Gibbons bought the world’s most valuable stamp for $8.3mn at the same auction. Both items formed part of the collection of luxury shoe designer Stuart Weitzman.

The dealer has since offered collectors the opportunity to acquire fractional ownership of the 1856 One-Cent Magenta stamp, through its partner Showpiece Technologies.

The sale attracted more than 1,000 customers in a few weeks, while ownership of a second item on the platform, an Edward VIII penny coin, sold out in under four days, the company said in its trading statement.

Shircore also said the company had worked on the concept of non-fungible tokens of stamps and coins, as part of “the changing ways of people collecting things”.

Interest in stamp and coin collecting rose along with growth in other hobbies during the pandemic, he said, but Stanley Gibbons suffered from auction closures and a fall in sales during lockdowns, with revenue slumping to £10mn in the 12 months to March 31 2021 from £13mn the previous year.

The dealer said the company expected annual revenues of about £12mn in the year to March 2022.

Christophe Spaenjers, an expert in real assets and associate professor of finance at HEC Paris said that while “it is true that British stamps appreciated a lot in the inflationary 1970s”, there was no guarantee they would do so again.

Gold, silver and diamonds were the best-placed real assets to hedge against inflation, according to Spaenjers, followed by stamps and art.

“There is arguably an interesting self-fulfilling element here,” he said. “Stamps will only hedge against inflation if people start buying them as a hedge against inflation.”