Historically, the early the Plate Blocks (those issued before 1940) have the highest catalogue value. This is a result of lower printing quantities and the gradual attrition through out the years of the available supply. However it was in the 1940s when Plate Block Collecting really came into its own. In the period of World War II, there simply were not many forms of entertainment. The postage rate at the time was 3 cents for first class letters. With the war came a tremendous amount of correspondence and increased demand for stamps. Stamp collecting enjoyed a tremendous amount of activity.
Plate Blocks, for the most part, cost 12 cents at the post office. Thousands of people collected them and some "put away" large quantities of Plate Blocks in the hope that even more people would be attracted to the hobby in the future and that their Plate Blocks would appreciate dramatically in value.
What actually happened was the reverse. After the war ended, there was a tremendous pent-up demand for everything - housing, autos, and other items that were not available during the war. Stamp collecting was put on the back burner. Still, though, the true enthusiasts kept accumulating large quantities of Plate Blocks even until the late 1970s.
Two significant events occurred that had a huge impact on Plate Block collecting. In 1963, the U.S. Postal Service issued its first Setenant, which means "joined together". While the postal services of other nations had issued them in the past, Scott No. 1254-7 was the first issue of the U.S. Postal Service that had stamps of different designs joined together.
At this point many so-called investment advisory services suggested that purchasing Plate Blocks would be a good investment. The stamp-collecting public agreed and started buying them in large quantities.
The post office, recognizing a popular trend, issued more and more Setenants. In 1970 the post office, seeking still further revenue, devised a new plan to appeal to the wallets of Plate Block collectors. Beginning with Scott No. 1338D in 1970, the post office started putting more plate numbers in the margin of many sheets.
Now it turned out that in order to have a genuine Plate Block a collector had to purchase from six to twenty stamps. Of course the price of Postage was on the rise too. The effect was a substantial increase in the price of maintaining a Plate Block collection. A Plate Block that cost a child 12 cents at the post office only a few years ago might cost as much as $4.40 today. Many Plate collectors have reflected their annoyance by quitting the Plate Block hobby and collecting singles instead.
It is no secret that one reaps what he sows. With regard to philately, Mr. Hearst in his book explained it this way.
" The man who puts out money for stamps, according to the degree of acumen and good fortune he has, will find that he can get money for them if he sells. Whether it is more than he paid, or less, depends on many considerations. But the man that boasts that his collection has cost him nothing should not be surprised if, when he tries to sell it, his prospects seem to share his original ideas of what his collection is worth."
What do these developments mean to you?
Why? Because the number of Plate Block owners has greatly diminished over the years. No matter what is being purchased, the most important tenet of investing is to buy low and sell high. By all historical standards, Plate Block prices are now low. In the history of Plate Block collecting, there has never been a more propitious time to act.
At this moment - even with a lower level of demand - some Plate Blocks issued in the last three years already are showing substantial increases in value.
Plate Block collecting is a compelling hobby, an investment, an adventure. A collection of Plate Blocks is an heirloom worthy of being handed down for generation to generation to be improved and added to by children and grandchildren. Whether your interest lies in the financial rewards, in the learning experience, in the sense of accomplishment you feel as each part of the album is completed, or in the lasting remembrance you can leave your offspring - Plate Block collecting offers hours of wholesome family entertainment. Imagine the sense of pride you can experience in continuing a project started by parents or grandparents in a bygone era.
Most people are procrastinators,They are always going to begin tomorrow. Right now, the supply of Plate Blocks is sufficient to fill collectors' needs. But when the demand increases, the supply will not..
As a collector, you will be guided by this eternal truth; once a stamp is discontinued, it will never again be issued. Never. You can start today. Start to build a collection yourself. You can build a lasting legacy of fun, knowledge and value for your children or your grandchildren.