From the most current issue of Kelleher's publication, Stamp Collector's Quarterly:
The most common question collectors and dealers ask us is "What's hot now?". The answer used to be quick and simple: China, British, quality US, France and Colonies. Much of this remains unchanged, however, the China Market seems to have become unhinged due to the worldwide COVID 19 pandemic. In-person trading has virtually come to a halt in Hong Kong (and the rest of the world), severing supply chains and seeing the first-in-a-decade softening of the heavily promoted PRC and Classic Chinese items. Perhaps China's virtual abrogation of its 1997 Hong Kong Treaty and other naked acts of hubris begin to have real consequences! A year ago the stamp market appeared to be stuck in the doldrums of a long and slow softening. But, 2020 saw a surprising jump-start and a sharp reversal in the fortunes of the world's noblest hobby. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the midst of a trading boom not seen since the 1970s and 1980s. Year-on-year, our revenues are up nearly 40%. Much is due to the surge of interest in our hobby. Also, fortuitously, two Landmark properties were brought to market by our firm. The stock and private holdings of William S. Langs—featuring US and Possessions Proofs, Errors, Stamps and Postal History—and the Leo Malz extensive holdings of South America, Middle East, Space, Topicals and Worldwide. With less than 20% of the Langs Holdings having been offered, and nearing completion of the Malz property, some clear standouts in "What's hot?" have burst upon the philatelic world. Mongolia for one—a market as mysterious and under-serviced as China was three decades ago—reached heights that are truly mind-boggling. A single lot from the Malz collection realized $96,000.00 (buyer's premium included). Langs items achieved strong and healthy realizations across all categories. We are also pleased to note a 22% increase in the number of participants and bidders in our auctions (again year-on-year) with double-digit price increases. Our client list as well as the American Philatelic Society's membership is swelling. It's always hard to put into perspective how "once-in-a-lifetime" holdings affect the market, but historically these offerings have boosted normal markets and stoked up those on the rise. With declining markets, such as China, good material tends to hide, or is placed on the shelf. We project that the quality material that does come to market from this area will enjoy new upward price adjustments with increased demand and scant supply, especially for quality items and postal history. The Scott Catalogs boast many new price increases. All these rising indicators point to 2020 as a bellweather year for both increasing demand and surging values for collectibles. This expansion, by the way, has not been limited to postage stamps. Just about every collectible category has shown promise, with many (such as sports cards) showing exponential gains. Traders and trading platforms report huge growth in collectibles. Online sales and demand for tangible items—from groceries to electronics to collectibles—seem insatiable. We do not see this ending anytime soon. In fact, many economists point to possible inflation or a stock market adjustment. In either scenario, collectibles are a recommended mix to hedge financial bets. With a vaccine being distributed even as we write this, there are great hopes that the pandemic will subside and be put behind us by summer 2021. It is our opinion that the current increased demand is more than a bubble, but an increase
in the awareness of quality-of-life issues and the satisfaction that hobbies such as Philately provide. Physical travel may be limited but the joy of virtual travel to far-off places and different eras (without leaving one's home) via paintings or small philatelic artworks will show continued and continuing appeal. Zoomed meetings and remote gatherings or exhibitions may well fade into memory when we have conquered the coronavirus, but we will always remember the small joys and solace our great hobby provided us in the grim and terrifying days of this pandemic. We will cherish this, and we will know that we can always return to our tongs and our albums—and to the friends and cohorts who have shared our philatelic pursuits—whenever we want to or need to. This will be our true and abiding connection—the thread that knit and held us together during our World's darkest hours, and it will sustain us and allow us to move forward and flourish, again and again. As we approach 2021, this could well-be one of the most historic years we will ever have seen, as we successfully conquer COVID, and begin seriously to heal our environment—socially, physically and spiritually. Both buyers and sellers will enjoy a renewed interest in their hobbies, benefiting not only from increased demand and the elasticity of price, but from an even larger community that will embrace others when it is safe to do so. We look forward to this and in wishing you our very best for the Holiday Season, and a HEALTHY, HEALTHY, HEALTHY New Year to you all! Everywhere social gatherings have vanished, but solitary pursuits have boomed. Without warning, 2020 has become the golden era of picture puzzles, crosswords, marathon TV binges, video games and-yes-stamps!