Why Collect Semi-Postal Stamps?
Semi-postals became common in European countries around the beginning of the 20th century. They have remained a mostly European phenomenon, although some other countries have issued them as well. The United States didn’t issue its first semi-postal until 1998, later than most countries. Since then, a number of other US semi-postal issues have appeared, with two still being issued as of 2017.
Semi-postal stamps make a great choice for stamp collectors because of their uniqueness, their special postal status and the intrinsic historical interest of the designs. Unlike a simple commemorative stamp, semi-postals are designed to persuade the postal customer to contribute to the depicted charity. For stamp historians, semi postal stamps provide an interesting look into what causes or charities the issuing authority chose to encourage at the time of issue.
Purchasing today’s semi-postals also provides the collector with an opportunity to contribute to a good cause at a price only a few cents above the normal value of a stamp. However, the greatest draw for collectors is probably the potential future value of these unique issues. Although the issuing authority aims to sell large quantities of these stamps, for various reasons particular semi-postal stamps are now relatively rare. For example, 1920s Chinese semi-postals promoting relief for flood victims are now valued significantly over their purchase price. Collectors can hope that today’s American semi-postals will offer comparable returns in the future.
Currently Collectible Semi Postal Stamps
The first American semi-postal stamp was intended to raise funds for breast cancer research and depicts the Greco-Roman goddess Diana.
Issued in 1998, this boldly-designed stamp is still available and popular among collectors and ordinary postal customers alike.
The other semi-postal still being issued depicts a tiger cub and promotes the preservation of endangered species.
The surcharge from this stamp supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation efforts. The “Save Vanishing Species” semi-postal was first issued in 2011.
Two other American semi-postals are no longer issued, and so may be of more interest to collectors looking to invest in a more rare stamp.
The first, the “Heroes of 2001” issue, commemorated the emergency relief personnel injured or killed during the September 11 attacks and raised money for their families.
The 45-cent “Stop Family Violence” stamp was issued in 2003, and its surcharge benefited the Department of Health and Human Services and its efforts to end domestic violence.
While American semi-postal issues are a relatively new entry to the field of collectible United States stamps, the history of other country’s semi-postal stamps should make collectors optimistic. While European stamps that became annual issues have shown less of an increase in value, others issued only for limited periods have become worth significant quantities over their original prices.
A collection of semi postal stamps and other “back of the book” issues shows real potential for high worth in future years. Be sure to check back with us for updates on the growth of this market!