Real value of a 1977 Fleetwood first day cover collection
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity after running a couple of errands during my lunch break to stop in at the local stamp shop for a few minutes, and while digging through a pile of albums stacked in a corner found this Fleetwood album containing 27 Europa first day covers from 1977.
There was no price on the album, and I have no particular interest in Europa, but there were enough stamps that looked like they would fit in my landscapes collection that I figured it was worth asking how much the shop owner wanted for it.
After quickly flipping through the album, Steve, the proprietor, told me that he would take $5 for it. I handed over the money and was soon on my way; I was happy to add some stamps to my collection, and the dealer was happy to have the album out of the way.
While looking through my new acquisition, I noticed that an original flyer advertising the set was tucked inside the front cover. The advertising copy seemed reasonably typical, but the original price was what caught my attention: $85! That works out to more than $3 per cover.
That’s not the entire story, though. Consider that the price of a first class postage stamp in 1977 was 13¢, or a little less than quarter of the current first class letter rate in the United States. Apply the same increase to the original purchase price, and it works out to somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 in today’s money.
My goal here is not to criticize the album producer for their original asking price, nor the original purchaser for spending that much money on it; neither of those are any of my business. My point is just that 40 years down the road, this collection has a value of somewhat less than 2% of its original retail price, and while this may be an extreme example, this sort of “limited edition” material is virtually never a good buy new. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy it; by all means, collect what you like and can afford, because that’s kind of the point. Just don’t expect it to hold much value if you or your heirs ever decide to sell.