Frieze Masters


When I attended Frieze Masters two years ago it was not as popular as Frieze and the quality of art works was amazing – every artwork was a masterpiece. This time it was as more crowded and less engaging. I missed this years Masterpiece, so I can not compare these two art fairs.

All leading galleries participated showcasing multimillion art pieces. Wide range of art could satisfy any visitor: you could have found sculptures, canvases, icons, porcelain and antiques. Masterpieces by Picasso, Magritte, Fontana, Bacon and other well known artist were presented by different galleries. Old Masters galleries preferred conservative display of their artworks – either white walls or dark walls with light directed on the paintings.

I also want to point out the difference between Frieze contemporary ad Frieze masters and how two very different groups are targeted. In contemporary art fair the food offered was mostly pizza and sandwiches – food to go and on Frieze Masters you had more sophisticated options – oyster bar, champaign bar and high end Japanese restaurant.

Altogether it was more pleasant experience comparing to the main fair. And it is a great opportunity to explore masterpieces that belong to private hands and are rarely displayed to general public.


Week prior to Frieze in London is full of late night openings and exhibition previews. House of the Nobleman opened its doors on 41 Conduit Street for the private view of British artist – Wolfe von Lenkiewicz. The exhibition is called “L’Oeuvre” which is ironic, since all his works are a modern take on well known masterpieces. So the title consonant with Louvre seems on point.

The exhibition is rather private and space is intimate. Many curious people and the artist was also among the crowd. It is on for a short time, so if you want to see these paintings in the flash you have to hurry – doors are open 5th–9th October, 10am – 8pm.

Thumbs Up!

Fourths plinth on Trafalgar Square is a real phenomenon – for those who do not know a bit of history would help. Trafalgar Square is the heart of London and major tourist attraction. There is a huge 52 meters height monument commemorating Admiral Harario Nelson standing in the centre of the square. There are four lion statues placed at the bottom of the column, children love climbing them! Two beautiful fountains also decorate the square. On the perimeter of the square there are four plinths, three out four display 19th century statues however the forth one remained empty. The funds run out before the last statue was completed.


Since 2005 the plinth has been occupied by contemporary art sculptures selected by the Mayor of London’s Culture Team. There are many proposals submitted each year and only six are selected for the next stage. The mini-versions are presented to the public and then the committee decides which one of the six is going to be commissioned.

This years artist who gets to display his work in such special place is David Shrigley, British visual artist. His sculpture is called “Really Good” and it is a 7 meters tall bronze fist with thumbs up sign. Shrigley hopes that this sculpture will make a world a better place and “thumbs up” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Mayor of London was present during opening few days ago and he spoke very highly about it, he said that: “What it represents is so important – optimism, positivity, the best of us. This sculpture is so important showing Londoners…tourists…that London is open”

It is definitely a shift from a downtrodden horse by stock market to a massive thumbs up! I am very excited about a new piece of art on public display and I surely hope that it will make people smile and will indeed become self-fulfilling prophecy.

Value of Public Art

Every city has distinctive identity: its structure, architecture, memorials, historical monuments and public art contribute to uniqueness of cityscape and create specific features. “Public art supplies another layer of sensitivity to the development process, complementing (and challenging) the work of architecture and landscape design”, said the artist David Patten.

The history of public art started in Greece, when Greek sculptures were placed in public spaces. One of the main examples of public art in Ancient Greece was in Athens – Parthenon (c.447-422 BCE) on the Acropolis. Later, the Roman Empire placed statues of the Emperor in several places to emphasise his power. Since then sculptures, monuments, religious statues have been an inseparable part of a nation’s culture. Nowadays, public art becomes not purely aesthetic but also functional. For example, in Barcelona there are seating areas that incorporate Art Deco sculptures and street lighting.

The definition of public art is not universal, different people and organisation offer different descriptions. McCarthy (2006) suggests that public art is “site specific … in the public domain”, however the type of art is not specified. Others (Hamilton et al, 2001) identify public art in five different forms: sculpture, functional objects, architectural features, landform works and temporary forms. Public art can be of different sizes and of different mediums; it can be a major monument such as The Eiffel Tower in Paris or hidden somewhere in the neighbourhood. In this essay, public art is defined as an art object of any size or medium that has been planned and executed for a specific space accessible for the general public.

Public art is a legacy of a nation and is rarely sold. There are some examples when art has been nearly sold, but the public signed a declaration and prevented the sale. For example, Henry Moore Henry Moore's sculpture Draped Seated Woman“Draped seated woman”located in a deprived area of London was announced for sale in 2012 according to The Guardian (2012) for almost £20 million. People stopped the sale by collecting more than 1,500 signatures in just a few days. Since public art is rarely sold it is difficult to talk about its value. When talking about the value of public art two sides should be considered: cultural value and economic value. This essay will analyse how public art ads cultural value to the society and the city, as well as how public art relates to financial value.

The cultural value of public art is the major component of the value overall. Every day that the sculpture, monument or a statue is on display it gains recognition and cultural value. Non-tangible value of public art includes education, a memorial for historical events, cultural heritage, national identity, inspiration and aesthetic beauty.

Public art to a large extent is covering important national events from the past to honour the memory of ancestors or important historical events. Each large city is full of historical monuments and significant figures. These monuments have different functions: honour memories and educate population. They can be seen as inseparable identity of the city. How can these monuments be valued? For example, the bronze monument to Yuri Dolgorukiy in the heart of Moscow, Russia, was built in 1954 to honour the prince and founder of Moscow. 3581071167_9c596fee61_bThe life-size statue portrays him on a horse. Four architects and artists, S. Orlov, A. Antropov, N. Shtamm and V. Andreev, worked on the design of the monument, which was commissioned for the 800th anniversary of the founding of the city. The statue’s initial cost was 5.5 million rubles of state funds – a huge amount at that time. If the statue was sold today what would it be valued at? If inflation is take into account, the value is many times more than the initial cost, but what about cultural value? This monument is a part of every history book and every educated Russian person knows what it looks like and where to find it. The architects became famous after creating this statue. The educational purpose is undoubtedly important. The statue is not only an honour for the founder of the city, but also an example of the art movement at the time of creation. This piece of public art is extremely important landmark for the city and as a part of Russian cultural identity. No financial figure can reflect its historic and cultural value.

The education and inspiration provided by public art are extremely important factors. Public art educates from a historical perspective and/or educates about art. Public art is like an open-air museum; the artwork has a label with key information. People can read who or what it is and who created it and why. By surrounding citizens with art their appreciation for art increases and they become more educated. In the Forbes magazine interview (2009) Darren Walker, vice-president of the Rockefeller Foundation and vice-chairman of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, said that an educated and civil society is impossible without public art and it lifts up humanity and challenges individuals to think differently about the world. Public art is open to the public at all times and people can analyse, explore the details not restricted by opening hours in museums or large crowds in closed spaces. They can return to it many times and discover something new and see it differently.

Non-for-profit organisations such as Forecast Public Art in America add educational value to public art. This organisation creates and manages walking tours around public art and explains the aesthetics, idea and story behind it. The idea of the organisation is to bring artists and community together, so local artists volunteer to give the tours. Public art is valuable for art and architect students as they study proportions, composition, structure and other aspects. Urban planning students can also benefit from public art and study how the artworks are positioned in relation to buildings and streets.

Becker (2004) in Americans for the Arts public report “Public Art: the essential component of creating communities” suggests that public art shows the diversity of the city. In different parts of the city there are different styles of artworks and they correspond to diverse nature of neighborhoods. Moreover, public art is dynamic and new artworks represent new demographics of the city and changing tastes.

Each nation has a different history and artistic characteristics. Italy is always identified with the Coliseum and the Statue of David. When people think of the UK they think about Big Ben, London Eye and red telephone boxes. History and identity is built through developing public art, as art reflects culture and society. The existence of public art in a country becomes valuable as a whole, not as individual objects.

The national identity is represented by public art. If the piece of public art is not an abstract object, but a figure, it represents a significant person or event with a lot of emotional attachment. Every country has important statues of national heroes, leaders, key thinkers, writers, artists and folklore characters. The value of public art can be gained either through the importance of the artist who created it or through the subject matter of the art. There are a lot of sculptures that are crafted by relatively unknown artists, but the figure portrayed is a national hero and carries cultural value. In war conflict or revolution the first things that are destroyed by the victors are statues of people of power. For example, in Iraq the local opposition pulled down the statues of Saddam Hussein. For the nation these public statues, form of public art, represent the cultural value that they no longer supported.

Finally, the value of public art is that it generally improves the urban environment and provides aesthetic beauty for citizens. It is nice to walk in parks and streets that are different because of unique monuments and art objects. These add something special to the environment and create an understanding of being in the particular place. People are more relaxed and thoughtful when surrounded by beautiful sculptures and statues. By developing outdoor public space and decorating it with art governments promote walking and sense of wellbeing.

It is challenging to value public art in public spaces in financial terms because its cultural and economic values are interrelated. Usually there is a direct fee involved in the production of the object which can be considered as the monetary value of public art. However, this fee does not fully reflect the monetary value of an artwork. Public art has indirect financial impacts on the artist and the surrounding area which should also be taken into account. For example, artwork displayed in public space adds cultural value to the artist who created it and is likely to increase prices for his/hers artworks. Public art also has Bilbao Effect: increases foot traffic and, therefore, boosts the local economy. Finally, the real estate market is also influenced by public art, as nearby properties increase in value. Each of these points are analysed in details bellow.

When talking about the value of public art, the first thing that comes to mind – expenses that are directly associated with commissioning, producing and installing the artwork. These expenses, according to Public Art Resource, can be broken down in the following way:

  1. Artist’s Fees
  2. Other professional fees
  3. Material, equipment and production costs
  4. Transport and installation costs
  5. Presentation costs
  6. Administration
  7. Insurances
  8. Contingencies
  9. VAT
  10. Documentation

These expenses are a direct investment in public art. They vary depending on the recognition of the artist, material used, size of the work and the legal complexity associated with installation and authorisation of a particular public artwork.

Public art is commissioned by local authorities, for example, the Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square. Alternatively, public art is sponsored by not-for-profit organisations such as Project for Public Spaces or Americans for the Art, where the money is raised through private and public donations. According to Ixia’s (2013) public art survey “The public art sector’s overall value increased slightly from £55 million in 2012 to £58 million in 2013”. This indicates increase in number of commissioned artworks or their value reflecting an increased interest in public art in the UK.

For the artist – being commissioned to create an artwork for public a space is a sign of recognition. His/hers artwork on a public display increases knowledge of his/her style and work. A gain in cultural value trough exhibiting in the public space (Pettersen, 2014) transfers into gain in economic value. How does it affect the value of public art if the artist has gained international recognition and tripled his/her prices compared to the time he/she installed the work? The value of public art depends on the reputation and value of the artist. Hence, it gets even more difficult to estimate the value of public art.

Public art attracts visitors and increases foot traffic. Increased foot traffic boosts the local economy: gift shops, hotels, restaurants and cafes open nearby to satisfy new levels of tourists. This can be related to so-called Bilbao Effect. “For urban planners, politicians, museum directors and trustees, it [Bilbao Effect] means the transformation of a city by a new museum or cultural facility into a vibrant and attractive place for residents, visitors and inward investment”, says The Art News Paper. Bilbao Effect usually refers to large cultural facilities such as museums or art fairs rather than a single public statue or element of architecture. Nevertheless, public art facilitates growth in the local economy.

It is difficult to estimate the economic affect of public art in real terms because the correlation between the installation of public art and improved local economy is not exact. There are many other factors that may influence local business, such as general improvement in the area or appearance of new real estate development, which may be the reason why the art is put there in the first place. Lundi (2012) in her study “Public art – purpose and benefits: exploring strategy in the New England city of Pittsfield” pointed out that there is lack of research and empirical evidence of how much of positive effect there is on local economy. Moreover, McCarthy (2006) suggests that the positive effect on local economy from public art is more of a “belief” than empirical conclusion. However, it might be argued that cultural regeneration also involves public art and it is an inseparable part of the urban planning. There are some cases in whi510c5369b3fc4b7d01000074_ad-classics-parc-g-ell-antoni-gaud-_antoni-gaudi-spain-barcelona-parc-guell-05-samuel-ludwigch the art appeared first and then the economy boosted. For example, Park Guell in Barcelona. It is a park created by Antoni Gaudi in the early 20th century that is a massive tourist attraction today. The infrastructure improved since the park was opened to the general public and now it is surrounded with small cafes, hotels, taxi stations, souvenir shops and other small businesses. In this case it is known that the public art appeared first and then local economy improved to facilitate a large number of tourists.

There are three different types of regeneration driven by culture identified by Evans (2005): culture-led regeneration (large scale developments that drive regeneration), cultural regeneration (when culture is integrated in urban policy) and culture and regeneration (when small objects of public art facilitate regeneration). Public art falls not only in the third category, but more and more often in the cultural regeneration as well because public art becomes a part of real estate developments. This brings us to the next aspect of the economic value of public art.

Modern real estate developments are introducing public art as a part of their project. In some countries, like in America, it is required by law to spend between 1% and 5% of total value of the new development on art. The structure is called “Percent for Art”. Introducing art as a part of a real estate project is part of cultural regeneration, where art and urban planning policy meet. There are many stakeholders in public art in new developments such as tenants, builders, artists, local community and real estate developers. Public art in real estate complexes promotes education, improves aesthetical image of a development and creates a colourful image. However, for the real estate sales prices public art is also important because prices depend on location. Properties that are close to sculptures or have a view from the apartment on the art object are generally more expensive than those that have nothing special in their surroundings. This variety in price that depends on public art can be seen as indirect value of art, as the value of real estate is enhanced by a particular piece of public art. This applies not only for real estate developments, but also for all properties. Generally a property with a view is more expensive than without. In this case “extra” value provided by public art depends on how well known the artwork and the artist are: if the property is overlooking a public art landmark such as Big Ben the mark up for a view will be higher than if the same property is facing an unknown sculpture other things being equal.

After describing different aspects of the cultural and the economic value of public art there are two examples that illustrate these values. Every autumn in Britain a paper poppy becomes a part of people’s lives, which they wear to honour veterans of war. In July 2014 it was no longer a flower on someone’s coat or scarf it became one of the most visited public art installations in the history of the UK – “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”. tower_3049643kThe Installation of 888,246 ceramic flowers two-feet tall covered a massive space next to The Tower of London. Each flower represents a British or colonial fatality in World War I. Artist Paul Cummins designed the installation, poppies were placed individually by thousands of volunteers staring from 17th of July until the Remembrance Day – 11th of November. Then most of the poppies were sold for charity and around 10,000 poppies went to the Imperial War Museum in London.

This installation reflects everything that is valuable about public art, combining high cultural and economic value. “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” was all over the news. The Royal Family as well as the Prime Minister came for the opening and planted a poppy. The story and idea behind the installation were explained many times in the media, which was a free educational lesson. Millions of children might have learned something new about their history and relatives that they might have not known otherwise. The installation was so massive, beautiful and significant that people travelled from across the country to see it. It has been estimated (Marketplace, 2014) that around 4 million people from England and Ireland came to London specifically to see the installation. In economic terms it means that this piece of public art boosted the economy: train tickets, hotels, restaurants and gift shops. This installation influenced the economy indirectly, by increasing tourist numbers, but also by raising money from selling poppies – £25 each. Money raised from the sale – £15 to £25 million – covered all costs associated with the artwork and 10% went to different charities such as Help for Heroes and Combat Stress. This is an example of how public art can be beneficial not only culturally, but also financially.

POTD-Fourth-Plinth_3222055kTrafalgar Square Fourth Plinth is another interesting case of displaying public art. Three out of four plinths on the main square in London have statues installed in 19th century; however, the fourth plinth initially designed for a William IV statue, remained empty due to lack of funds to create the statue. Since 2005 the plinth has been occupied by contemporary art sculptures that were selected by the commission that is led by the Mayor of London’s Culture Team. There are many proposals submitted each year and only six are selected for the next stage. The mini-versions are presented to the public and then the committee decides which one of the six is going to be commissioned.

According to the a member of Arts Council in London, Joyce Wilson, this project plays an important role in engaging audiences in debate about arts and culture generally, and art in the public realm in particular.

Alastair Sooke (2013) from “The Telegraph” argues that the process of choosing an artwork for the plinth is not truly democratic and it is not fair that small committee decides what people are going to look at for next year or so.

The plinth on Trafalgar Square becomes an attraction; people are travelling to see the sculpture and are excited about what is coming next. This is a perfect example how public art can be dynamic and reflect the culture of a city.

There are different types of public art: temporarily exhibited like “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” or those created and still standing by the ancient Greeks. It is extremely difficult to value public art because it gains in value every day and involves so many indirect issues. Public art shapes the national identity alongside its culture. Cultural and aesthetical values combine with the economic and financial values to create a notion of how valuable public art is. The thing that is clear is that public art is beneficial for cityscapes, societies and economies. Public art inspires people, decorates cities, and stimulates tourism and regeneration.


N/a, (2007) “Tenth anniversary of the Bilbao Guggenheim The “Bilbao Effect”: from poor port to must-see city” THE ART NEWSPAPER, No. 184

Beard, S., (2014) London’s poppies prove the value of public art (Available at’s-poppies-prove-value-public-art on 02/05/15)

Becker, J., (2004), Americans for the Arts public report “Public Art: the essential component of creating communities, p 14-15

Evans, G. (2005). Measure for measure: Evaluating the evidence of culture’s contribution to regeneration. Urban Studies 42, (5), 959-983

Forecast Public Art, non for profit organization in the USA (available at on 04/05/15)

Hamilton, J, Forsyth, L., & De Iongh, D. (2001). Public art: A local authority perspective. Journal of Urban Design, 6, (3), 283-296.

Hill, A. (2012) Henry Moore sculpture decision raises fears for public art, The Guardian, (Available at on 03/05.15)

Ixia Public Art Survey 2013 (available at on 03/05/15)

Laneri, R. (2009) Why We Love and Need Public Art, Forbes (Available at on 03/05/15)

McCarthy, J. (2006). Regeneration of cultural quarters: Public art for place image or place identity? Journal of Urban Design, 11, (2), 243-262.

Pamela J. Landi , 2012, Public art – purpose and benefits: exploring strategy in the new england city of pittsfield, MA , Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts, p 20

Pettersen A., 2014, Risk and uncertainty in the Art World ed. by Anna M. Dempster, Chapter 3 Value, Risk and contemporary Art ecosystem, p. 71-74

Project for Public Spaces organization web site (available at on 30/04/15)

Public Art Resource (Available at on 02/05/15)

Singh, A., 05 Mar 2015, Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth taken over by horse’s skeleton”, The Telegraph (available at on 30/04/2015)

Sooke, A., 24 Sep 2013, Why can’t the public vote for Fourth Plinth?” The Telegraph (available at on 30/04/2015)

How stamps are valued?

The stamp market has its own eco system with key dealers, main collectors, international fairs and press. Each colleague presents a sector of the market as well as the highlights of his national stamp market. This essay is looking at the stamp market from the economic perspective, describing the factors that influence monetary value of a stamp, establishing authenticity, looking at the performance of the market, and finally describing the highlights of the Russian market.

All the market segments are related and some of the research among group members overlaps. The value of the stamp is the cornerstone of the stamp market: if there is no monetary value there is no market. Hence, it is crucial to determine what influences the value and what is so special about stamps. Research indicates that the high-end stamp market is rather small and the majority of the pieces are medium to low-end.

The study suggests that age, rarity and condition of the stamp are the key factors that determine the value of the stamp. Generally the older the stamp the more desirable it will be on the market (Fairchild, 2012). However, even though the stamp is old it does not necessarily mean that it will be expensive – the rarity is as important as the age. Rarity is defined by how many stamps were issued and how many of them have survived. For example, there were 150 million one-cent Benjamin Franklin stamps issued in 1861, hence, these stamps are unlikely to achieve high prices.

Condition is essential for the value. The condition of gum influences its value. The stamp, which was never used and is free from any disturbance is called mint and is the most valuable. The gradation for the condition of the stamp varies from dealer to dealer. Siegel Auction has six categories of gum condition: mint, lightly hinged, hinge mark, part of original gum, small part of original gum and no gum (Siegel Auction Gallery catalogue). Mint, lightly hinged and hinge mark stamps of pre-1980 are sold at a premium. However, there are some exceptions: stamps issued in tropical climates are expected to have some gum disturbance due to humidity, and such condition is not considered a negative factor in pricing.

Sound condition of a stamp is also determined by the face of the stamp – the design should be centred and the colours bright. Perforation should be round, even and clearly cut. Used stamps are generally more valuable still attached to the envelope or post card, rather then removed from it (DuBasso, 2012). This is because if removed the gum will be damaged.

Unlike any other art market – mistakes, misprints and errors add to the value. A faulted design of the stamp is considered to be a pure rarity and hence increases the value. The reason for that is the strict quality control: the faulted stamps were usually destroyed before distribution. Therefore the stamps that survived are rare and expensive. For example, TreScreen Shot 2014-11-09 at 15.01.36skilling Yellow stamp issued in Sweden in 1855 is the most expensive result of a fault in printing. Originally, all these stamps were produced in green, however, one sheet of nine stamps turned out to be yellow. Only one stamp is known to exist, which definitely contributes to its value. Moreover, after long discussions about authenticity of the stamp, two independent experts have declared it to be genuine. Furthermore, its provenance also adds to its value – it was in possession of King Carlos II of Romania. The stamp was sold privately and realised price is unknown, but according to the Scott World Stamp Catalogue (2013) a used Treskilling Yellow stamp is worth 3 million USD.

The good condition of a stamp does not guarantee a good price for it because there has to be a demand for the design and the country that issued the stamp. There are different trends in the stamp markets and some stamps are more desirable than others: for example, stamps from the UK, French and British colonies and from Russia are generally more expensive than Israeli and Scandinavian stamps.

When determining the value of the stamps it is always useful to consult stamp catalogues. The first catalogues were published in the early 1860s in Great Britain and United States. Originally they only printed the dealers’ prices for stamps. However, philately developed as a hobby over time and now there are plenty of printed and online catalogues over the world. Today’s catalogues provide not only price, but also further details such as issue date, colour variations and different values according to condition.

There are four main catalogues that cover stamps internationally: Scott, Yvert et Tellier, Michel, and Stanley Gibbons. These catalogues have different editions and sections divided by countries and updated every year. There are a lot of domestic catalogues that are issued by leading philatelic dealers or institutions. National Post Offices publish catalogues with the new stamps. However, stamps issued for the last 60 years are generally worth only face value because of the large circulation, unless the stamp is a very limited edition (Mackay, 2012).

Editing the catalogue can be challenging because the value for each stamp should be reviewed individually. According to Charles Snee, editor of Scott catalogue (2014), four editors are working on updating the information and consult dealers and collectors on the subject of value. They consider the stamp market for each country and collectively decide if the value increases, decreases or remains unchanged. The catalogues make it easier to identify the fake: each valuable design can be found in the catalogue.

Genuineness determines the value of a stamp. Authenticity is a big issue in the stamp market as in any other art market. There are connoisseurs, usually collectors or dealers with a lifetime of experience, as well as chemical tests, which analyse paper, ink, and gum. There are new chemical tests that are available on the market – infrared spectroscopy – which examine all components of a stamp without damaging it (E. Imperio et al).

Usually, the auction house stamps are sold with certificates of authenticity. For example, the most expensive stamp ever sold is the one-cent Magenta, The British Guiana stamp issued in 1856. 1It was sold by Sotheby’s New York for 9,480,000 USD including buyers premium in June 2014. Interestingly, even though it is the world record price for a stamp, the estimated value was 10 to 20 million USD and the realised price did not reach the low estimate. This stamp is the only one in existence; it was issued as an emergency stamp when the British colony ran out of stamps. It had impeccable provenance which was a significant factor in determining authenticity. All owners can be traced back to twelve-year-old boy who discovered the stamp in 1873. The stamp was sold with two “Genuine” certificates (Sotheby’s catalogue) issued by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society in 1935 and 2014. To further ensure authenticity, experts from the Smithsonian National Postal Museum also examined the stamp before the sale. Generally, the more rare and expensive the stamp is the more important is its authenticity.

Such high prices for a stamp as for the one-cent Magenta are extremely rare. Market performance over the last decades was analysed by looking at the annual Rarities of the World sale by Siegel Auction. This auction house was chosen as one of the biggest auction house specializing in stamps and the data for each sale is available online. The auction house holds many medium value auctions, but Rarities of the World sale is the most important event of the year. The value for the first sale in 1964 is also included to give an idea of where it all began. The data was collected manually and all lots were added individually.

Total Sales graph shows the overall dynamic of the stamp market. The sales fluctuate and there is no clear trend. The revenues were declining before the 2008 Economic Crisis, but the market is gradually recovering since 2011. Rarities of the World sales sometimes include manuscripts, envelopes, and postcards. In 2012 the total sale reached almost 6 million USD, however, this was due to the sale of Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln for 1,850,000 USD. This sale can be considered as an outlier because it was not a stamp and the price was much greater than for the other lots. To make the results more reliable there is also shown an outcome without this outlier.


Source: Siegel Auction, catalogues; Created: 11/2014

The Average graph shows that the average realised price per sale is rising over time even when the outlier is not taken into account. The average was calculated by dividing the total sales by the number of lots per sale and included the bought in lots. In order to determine why the average is increasing the total number of lots statistics has been created.


Source: Siegel Auction, catalogues; Created: 11/2014

It can be seen in the graph below that the number of lots per sale is decreasing over time. It can be concluded that there are fewer rare stamps in the market, but they are getting more and more expensive as the average price is rising.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 13.44.05

Source: Siegel Auction, catalogues; Created: 11/2014

The research about market performance could be improved by collecting data from other sales; however, the data is not available. Moreover, the private market is unknown so the market analysis is not representative.

The second part of the study is devoted to the Russian Stamp Market. Unexpectedly the Russian market for stamps is rather developed and Russian stamps are recognised internationally. Even though the market experienced a slowdown after the fall of The Soviet Union, philately is slowly recovering its popularity. Collectors are generally aging population and collections are mainly medium to low in value. It is considered a hobby of childhood, rather than serious investment. Among people who are collectors, 18% collect stamps according to Sterlegrad (2011), which makes stamps the third most popular collectable in Russia after coins and small statues.

During the USSR period philately was extremely popular and everyone collected stamps. However, the reputation of the country was damaged because the government was issuing so called cancel-to-order stamps (Moneu, 2014). The post administration was printing more stamps than needed for the postal services and was selling the excess in bulk to collectors cheaply. This almost destroyed the market of used stamps in Soviet Russia.

According to the newspaper “Izvestia” (2013), Russians were spending 40 million USD for different collectables online in 2007, compared to 2 million in 2007. This is not only because collecting is more popular, but also because of increasing number of Internet users and the development of Internet platforms. The majority of stamp dealers are online platforms such as Molotok and Marka – they sell both low and high value stamps. There are some dealers in large cities, but they usually specialise in different types of collectables. There are two auction houses that are devoted to stamps or have stamp departments: Gelos and Pugachevs Auction House. However, they are not popular as collectors still prefer buying stamps online or in dealers’ shops. Bookshops also sell stamps in the “Antiques and Collectables” section and provide certificates with each stamp and are highly trusted by collectors.

The stamp market is transparent because of the existence of the catalogues; however, all private sales are still unknown to the general public. The data found on the Internet was arranged poorly and sometimes out of date, especially for the Russian market. This essay provided an opportunity for students to analyse the information that has been found and include material that was not in the presentation. In conclusion, it should be said that researching and analysing the stamp market turned out to be challenging and informative.


DuBasso M., 2012, Stamp Collecting: The Definitive-Everything you ever wanted to know: Do I have a one million dollar stamp in my collection?, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, pp 70-90

Fairchild, S. 2012, American Philatelic Society’s Stamp Pricing, APS Chapter 601

Imperio E., Giancane G., Valli L., Spectral Database for Postage Stamps by Means of FT-IR Spectroscopy. Analytical Chemistry, 2013; 85 (15): 7085 DOI

Lyalyalina, A., 2013, Izvestia, Russians began spending 40 million USD per year on antiquaries online, (available on at 09/12/14)

Mackay J., 2012, The Complete Guide to Stamps & Stamp Collecting: The Ultimate Illustrated Reference to Over 3000 of the World’s Best Stamps, and a Professional Guide, Southwater, pp177-180

Moneu News Portal, 2014, (available at on 10/12/14)

Robert A. Siegel Auction catalogue, available at on 05/12/14

Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Volume 6 Countries of the World San-Z (Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue: Vol.6: Countries Solomon Islands-Z), 2013

Snee C., 2014, When did the Scott catalogues originate, and how are they edited and updated each year? (Available on on 09/12/14)

Sotheby’s Sale Catalogue entry, June 2014, Lot 1, The British Guiana one-cent black on magenta (available on at 01/12/14)

Sterlegrad Newspaper, The most popular collections of Russians, 2011 (available at on 07/12/14)