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Disney Takes Charge

by Ken Lawrence

The market for Disney stamps and covers is about to undergo a major change.

The Walt Disney Company evidently believes that the former licensee, Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corp. of New York, did not develop the market to its full potential of profit (for Disney). For example, IGPC made certain that the stamps remained plentiful, that they were not artificially scarce, and that they could be purchased as new issues at face-value prices.

Now and in the future, the stamps will be marked up substantially from the moment of issue, and will be marketed outside the traditional stamp hobby as individual collectible keepsakes, rather than as parts of a comprehensive collection.

I can attest that the market for Disneyana is soaring, including philatelic Disneyana. Most desirable are Disney covers from the 1930s. I have a 1931 cover from Germany with a pictorial Mickey Mouse meter imprint that is a four-figure item, if I wanted to sell it. Next in desirability are Disney covers from the 1940s (such as World War II patriotics with Disney-designed combat insignia) and 1950s.

Disney subjects on stamps came in 1968 (U.S.), 1970 (San Marino), 1972 (Fujeira and Sharjah), 1979 (the beginning of the IGPC omnibus), and subsequently. First day covers of the 6-cent U.S. Walt Disney stamp have risen greatly in value, and are today the most expensive of any postwar single commemorative stamp. FDCs of the San Marino Disney set are scarce three-figure items; Fujeira and Sharjah, four-figure world rarities. The mint U.S. stamp is getting tougher all the time, but is still reasonable. The same is true of the San Marino set, but the Fujeira and Sharjah sets are tough.

Recently in Linn's [Stamp News], Varro Tyler illustrated fake Sharjah Disney stamps, crediting me with their discovery. They are being counterfeited because they are so popular, and supplies of the genuine stamps are depleted.

The Easter 1981 Barbuda Disney set is rare, costing more than $100 in mint condition; FDCs are even tougher.

Bob Driscoll, the pioneer Disney stamp dealer and album publisher (owner of Brookman/Barrett & Worthen) told me two years ago, "Disney will be good when Sam [Malamud, owner of IGPC] runs out." Bob hired me to write the introduction for the Brookman Disney stamp catalog; I'd say he knows the market better than anyone else.

I think he's right. Now that IGPC is no longer the agent, I think all the older issues will rise in value, perhaps fairly quickly. Dealer buy ads are now common; in the past, they were unnecessary, because Sam could supply everything.

As for the new stuff, it's hard to say. It's coming in at a high price, but selling to non-collectors means it will be like gold foil FDCs. In a few years they will be dumped cheaply at flea markets. That's my prediction.

Ken Lawrence
Illustrations courtesy IGPC.

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