It was not an easy year, which is now behind us. However, it was an interesting one. After the economic hurricane of last year, you could only hope a little without any certainty that the market – also the philatelic market- would recover. Should this recovery somehow happen, you deducted that you would have in any case a difficult time for several years and live with it until the old, very satisfying conditions could return. Now it happened rather differently, totally differently.
If the collapse of the banks for most participants was not perhaps entirely expected but surely generally unexpected (especially it happened unexpectedly over night) but it passed over our stamp market without any repercussion then its rise followed promptlythis year quite suddenly. It happened perhaps a little too quickly in order to avoid a slight movement in the market tendencies, which cannot be excluded for the near future.
In philately- I consider as usually only the facts in our own business of classic Swiss stamps (1843-1880)- we had no collapses, perhaps certain bumps and therefore we can be sure that we cannot hope for astronomically high increases in the future. It would be judged positively- as everywhere else- as a great success if we could approach or even reach the earlier figures as before. And this was the case in most parts of the market. Although the classic Switzerland market had apart the economic market problems huge extra endurance tests to cope with liquidations of big collections, which were there because of in heritage, estates and not at all because of the economic market crisis. It would be of course easier if the sale of such big collections could be sold in stages or postponed (which was done with one collection). It is regrettable that it is not always possible. To present the collection as one lot, is naturally not advantageous and illustrate the collection as a whole with only a few photos. If the whole collection comes on the market at the same time you have to accept the lower result you get. At this moment nobody is willing or ready to support the market.
By writing this article (beginning of November 2010) the whole year for Swiss classic is not finished. Some big auction sales are still on our programme. But you can draw already a line. And this looks far better than expected especially after our worries in the sad economic year. There were some exaggerated increases within the Cantonals, deluxe pieces still fetched always good prices although medium quality was not in great demand. Also items of lesser quality and beauty although without defects belong to this category. Stamps which do not have a neat cancellation although perfect quality belong also to this category. The catalogue price quotations are only valid for perfect and beautiful stamps even superb stamps. You always have to remember that!. If you have a huge offer (as we have seen it), it is difficult to sell although perfect but “mediocre” condition. Here the money was possibly not available to sell the great number of this category still at a good price.
It is absolutely remarkable to see the demand for cheap stamps, also in lesser quality. I cannot remember that we as retailers had seen such a big demand for lower quality stamps in the last decades. We would be pleased to buy of most cantonal stamps these for instant cash in small or even big quantities.
If you have any stock, please contact us with your price offer.
The market for Rayons and Strubelis has remained the same, also because the offer is not very big. Prices remained constant. You can say the same of the Sitting Helvetia with all its multiple ways of collecting, cancellations, which are here thought after. For two or three years the exaggerated high prices for rare destinations were reduced to a healthy level so that such collections can be built up today without problems.
As far as the Strubelis are concerned, there is a tendency to collect from now on according to the new classifying system of Urs Hermann. However, you can stick as before to the Zumstein classification if you prefer. Certain questions remain unanswered regarding to the A-issue, which in my opinion are solved by Urs Hermann. This has lead Hermann to split the A-issue to a new listing in A2 and A3. That has shown that there are discoveries of big rarities, especially among the unused pieces. The price increase has yet not started. Here you will soon notice fantastic surprises. Therefore my advice: Buy these numbers already now before the price increases have taken off.
The reason, why the year 2010 was much better than even the satisfying year 2009, is the fact that the demand for genuine unused classic issues of Switzerland has luckily and gradually increased from year after year. The problem here with most numbers is not to sell them but to buy them. For some numbers we are totally sold out or have only one quality left. And this is very astonishing because I -as one of the few dealers- have always believed for 40 years in buying these unused classic issues. The prices appeared to be for years simply ridiculously low. They are even now seeing after the constant demand still too low and retarded in comparison with others. It is not possible that an unused number, which is 10 -50 times rarer than its same issue in used condition, has the same price as the last one. Even if the price for the unused one here and there rises now to the double of the original price for used stamps then it is not even the” end of the story “.
Exactly the same applies also for pairs of the cantonals or larger mutiples( Kantonals to Strubelis). Here you have unused and used. We did not have any new collectors for years and today, where you will find one or the other there, who wishes to buy. You discover that there are many of the pairs described as pure rarities in order not to mention the word world rarities. Experts know that there are of certain numbers known that means still available pieces of such pairs between 2 and about 10 pieces and only in single cases still two dozens more. But in reality: these pieces are in collections or museums and are available on the open market. If you are interested in such rarities, please contact us about those, which are pricewise well underrated and which we can offer–as private treaty outside of our catalogue.
The development in the economy in general as in philately is never going only in one direction. It is certainly not a one way street. The different influential facts can be rather compared with an old scale. You put the main factors equally into both bowls of the scale and you get the result in both ways. A negative influence can be created by huge auction offers, which abundance is too much for the market. That results into lower prices. This hardly happens for the most demanded rarities (and hardly for bad quality of the rarest numbers) but surely for the bulk of average material. A smaller offer also influences the market due to larger demand to the dealers and will reflect the market with a little delay, also in higher auction realised prices.
To run a good business, it is necessary that you firstly have prospective buyers and secondly have a stock to satisfy all customers’ wishes as much as possible. We have realised regarding the customers that one or two had suffered certain losses but mostly in shares. However money is still around. It is possible that they now are more careful how they spend it. I do not think that this is a disadvantage.
On the other hand I am pleased to see new collectors in the market for Classic Switzerland material. These are mostly people, who are disappointed about the stock market and the hardly noticeable interest rates or gains and are not willing to reinvest their money into the banks. The ridiculously low interest rates (almost in any country in the world) have even to be declared for income tax. That is useless for investors, especially the old age pensioners, who want to profit of their money and want to enjoy it. Therefore they wish to invest in something, which gives you pleasure. Those, who are still able to do physically something, book long cruises or have more long distance holiday flights. Others buy paintings and jewellery and we see intermittently but more often these clients, who discovered recently that our classic Swiss stamps as cultural heritage. It is not only interesting for collectors but guarantees also a certain investment, which equally gives plenty of joy and enjoyment. A careful built up collection is fine, above all when the collection is housed in the new album, issued by the Swiss Federal Dealers Association (also sold through us). This album is well presented with many beautiful educational historical illustrations, which consequently is even suitable for beginners or even people, who do not collect. It is an album, which grows on you. If not, it can be passed on to the next of kin, who will certainly enjoy the collection as much as you. I have always said that you should buy and collect what suits you and gives you pleasure. You should not buy classic Swiss stamps in order to check daily the value like you once followed the stock market to see the value of your shares.. On the other hand you have here rare and beautiful stamps and an interesting country which will give you pleasure and enjoyment all your life. If you build your collection with a certain feeling for quality and some knowledge or are advised by a professional, your collection will be also appreciated by your son or grand son.
My positive market feeling is based on the fact that the inflation in Switzerland is still extremely low and will be low for a certain time. It is cheap to get money- as mentioned before- and not easy to invest your money well in banks without risk. This fact will lead money in future to the philatelic market. Moreover is the unemployment figure in Switzerland very low in comparison with other countries in Europe or Overseas and we hardly expect any change for the coming years. This is not the case in other countries, even if other countries have bright spots. Furthermore: By buying Swiss Classic Stamps you will be invested in the strong Swiss Franc!
In Switzerland we have lost through death in the past few years big and very big collectors purely and not through the economical crisis. This happens regrettably from time to time. That is life and coincidence but it is also not a good sign, if our classic Swiss stamps appear at the same, when the demand alone in Switzerland would not have been sufficient so that the big too even huge demands came from foreign countries? The collectors of many countries of the world would love to have such a situation when they had a substantial demand for their classic stamps from overseas or neighbouring countries!
In Switzerland we can be really very proud about this. This has certainly to do with the esteem and admiration of our country abroad, our culture, our political and economical stability and our reliability. If you look back, this fact has always been the case throughout decades.
For decades some of the biggest classic Swiss collectors always lived abroad! If you study the list of the owners of great rarities, you discover that a greater number of collectors live rather abroad than in Switzerland. However, you can mention that also some of these “FOREIGNERS” are of Swiss origin or at least were. If only Swiss citizens admired the beauty of our Alps or enjoyed the advantages of our hotels, then our tourist branch would hardly blossom and could prepare itself for bankruptcy! Foreigners as buyers are also very important for the Swiss philately!
There is still another very important reason why the classic philately has excellent chances in the long run: the collectors live much longer than before. They possess in majority a certain sum available (certainly more than in the last century) and they wish to spend this money in a way that they can still enjoy it and profit themselves. And exactly this is possible without problems with classic Switzerland stamps while travelling or sportive activities are difficult or even physically impossible. Many clubs and societies complain that they have no young or new collectors and have in general only members of advanced ages. The reasons for the first statement can be explained. The second fact that the members get older and no new members is more problematic and serious. Maybe these so-called “old” members are underestimated and not enough appreciated. There are almost no sport clubs which have a reasonable number of 80 year old members. As philatelists we should be proud that we have these philatelists and give these old age pensioners before and now a home and hopefully always offer a source of living joy!
We could this year sell with satisfaction a great deal of material to real young collectors. This fact has surely to do a great part with boarding schools because here the young collector certainly looks for ideas. There is another reason that orders through the boarding schools have a very prompt delivery.
We would like to thank once again these but also our big number of long-lasting clients for their loyalty during the last year. Naturally we do not take it for granted to have long lasting clients because it is known that only happy, satisfied come back. I consider this as a personal award that we not only suppliers to our clientele, amongst whom mostly the biggest collectors in the world are but that they allow us to advise them. The last is absolutely connected with trust and trust you cannot buy with money. For this reason I am really proud of it.
I would also thank my son Markus, who has edited this catalogue without my help and who can also continue the business without problems. Bad tongs or better very awful tongs maintain already today that he does it much better than me. Maybe they are totally right. I owe also a special thanks to my daughter-in-law, Claudia, who for some year feeds all our documentations into the computer. You will find in this catalogue a result of my studies over 40 years about the Orts-Post and Poste Locales and its mixed frankings. Without their tireless support in this boring nervy job I think it would not have been possible to achieve this work. I can count now, as always before, on the collaboration of my wife, almost always when we have something urgent, especially in connection with the production of our catalogue. Last but not least I should not forget to thank our dear relatives, who help us to send out the catalogue in time to reach you at the beginning of the New Year.
We would be very happy if you would contact us also in 2011 concerning any questions relating to the classic Switzerland material or if you are interested in knowing about collections or larger lots, which we did not include this time into the catalogue. Simply contact us and we try to reply immediately as far as it is possible.
I wish you all a peaceful, happy New Year and look forward to hearing from you whenever you need me.
Schmerikon, 9th November 2010