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Ex Post: The Investment Performance of Collectible Stamps

40 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2009 Last revised: 20 Mar 2016

Elroy Dimson

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School; London Business School

Christophe Spaenjers

HEC Paris - Finance Department

Date Written: December 1, 2010

Abstract

This paper uses stamp catalogue prices to investigate the returns on British collectible postage stamps over the period 1900–2008. We find an annualized return on stamps of 7.0% in nominal terms, or 2.9% in real terms. These returns are higher than those on bonds but below those on equities. The volatility of stamp prices approaches that of equities. Stamp returns are impacted by movements in the equity market, but the systematic risk of stamps remains low. Stamps partially hedge against unanticipated inflation. Estimates of average after-cost returns for individual investors show that stamps may rival equities in terms of realized performance.

Keywords: Alternative investments, Indexes, Long-term returns, Philately, Stamps

JEL Classification: G11, G12, Z11

Suggested Citation

Dimson, Elroy and Spaenjers, Christophe, Ex Post: The Investment Performance of Collectible Stamps (December 1, 2010). Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Vol. 100, No. 2, 2011, pages 443–458. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1444341

Elroy Dimson (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom
+44 20 7000 8212 (Phone)
+44 700 607 7390 (Fax)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, NW1 4SA
United Kingdom
44 20 7000 7000 (Phone)
44 700 607 7390 (Fax)

Christophe Spaenjers

HEC Paris - Finance Department ( email )

1 rue de la Liberation
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

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