HK gets stamp of approval

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2012, 12:00am

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Hong Kong's stamps may be losing popularity with collectors and have dropped in value since the handover, but the city will remain a worldwide hub for philatelic trading, a world renowned expert says.

David Feldman, who founded one of the world's leading philatelic auction houses under his name, said the drop in value was due to a lack of new collectors for the city's stamps since the return to Chinese sovereignty. '[Hong Kong] used to be one of the leading British Commonwealth collecting areas,' Feldman said. 'But ever since the handover there's been less interest for the British period, much less. Unfortunately, [the stamps] have become a little bit less popular.'

Although some enthusiasts abroad collected Hong Kong stamps to build up their China collections, the demand for the city's stamps had remained low compared with other Chinese stamps, Feldman said. He expected the value of Hong Kong stamps would fall further and 'stay depressed' in the future.

But this was unlikely to reduce the popularity of Hong Kong as a sales hub. 'Hong Kong has always been the hub for philately in China and the China region, and it has also been a gateway to all the Asian countries,' he said.

The auction house set up its only office in Asia in Hong Kong in March last year, and expects the market on the mainland to grow. Feldman believed having an office in Hong Kong would be a more cost-efficient way to expand his business in Asia. The firm sold a stamp from the Cixi era of the Qing dynasty for more than HK$3.1 million in November in Hong Kong, and is holding another Chinese stamp auction in March.

Feldman said he had seen growing interest in philately in China in recent years, but warned that the value of the stamps people were investing in now could be volatile in the future.

'[The interest] has been particularly in regard to modern stamps. But that's not really a collector demand. It's rather a mixture between collector, investor and culture,' he said.

The 64-year-old Irish philatelist, educated in Dublin, started exchanging stamps with friends when he was eight. He began selling stamps three years later by placing adverts in comic books, and was only 20 when he held his first specialised Irish stamp auction. 'I never collected. I was always in the business. For me it's an adventure,' he said. 'I am impassioned by [others'] interest in collecting.'