Ex Post: The Investment Performance of Collectible Stamps

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

See all articles by Elroy Dimson

Elroy Dimson

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School; London Business School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Christophe Spaenjers

HEC Paris - Finance Department

Date Written: December 1, 2010


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)

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Christophe Spaenjers

HEC Paris - Finance Department ( email )

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