Currently those who collect the topic of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)may have their hands full as numerous issues, from all parts of the globe, could be vying for collectors' dollars in these sesquicentennial years of that historic American conflict. If the U.S. Bicentennial was any indication, countries are more than ready to jump on the new issue stamp bandwagon for an American event or anniversary. There’s nothing like selling stamps to willing collectors to help fill the national coffers, even if you are a tiny island nation with no connection to American history.
There will also be those who will endeavor to sell collectors high priced varieties and freaks and errors examples of the basic stamp issues. There will be fancy gold stamps and limited editions. Remember, the only ones who will gain from these issues are the dealers. Those completists in the Civil War topical collecting area have a real dilemma of conscience to face. Can they draw the line? And if so, where to draw it? At the minimum I would suggest any stamp issue that will not be listed in one of the major catalogs, like Scott or Gibbons.
In my own case, I was a collector of the worldwide issues of the 1983 Bicentennial of Flight stamps. I let the completist impulse get the better of me and bought everything available on the topic, including issues made specifically for those who must have it all. Of course, there’s one born every minute, as Mr. Barnum supposedly said of the gullible. And I may have been naive, but I was also lucky: when I was done with that collection I was able to sell it quite easily, to another collector suffering from the same malady that had gripped me. But what if I hadn’t been able to unload it?
When an interest fades, the collector hopes he will get a return on his investment. I basically broke even. No, let me amend that. I came out ahead, because even with ridiculous stamps like gold-foil high values picturing the brothers Montgolfier as saints; “rare” imperfs honoring Von Zeppelin, issued from some unknown island with stamps to sell, but no population, its questionable artwork making one wonder if you're looking at an airship or a day-old hotdog; and every last cachet from first day covers of the U.S. balloon stamps (I even made some of my own!), I gained enough pleasure to make the collection worthwhile.
Of course, along with these artificially high priced items and contrived issues that will never see postal use, there will be a natural market movement as interest heats up: check out eBay to see first day covers with Civil War connections already priced higher; or some Confederate States of America (CSA) stamps already enjoying more bidding action than usual.
There will be Civil War buffs who will be bitten by the collecting bug coming into the hobby and perhaps buying up quantities of CSA stamps. These items could become just a bit scarcer, sending prices up. That’s OK, because it is an authentic function of the law of supply and demand. Have pity on those who fall prey to the hype of the limited edition or the "rare" variety. After all, everything is limited, even if the number produced is 500,000.
This isn’t to try to discourage you from putting together a collection of U.S. Civil War sesquicentennial new issues. The beauty of stamp collecting is that you can collect any way -- and anything -- you desire. If the thought of a Fort Sumter stamp canceled on its first day of issue on an original Civil War patriotic envelope makes you weak in the knees, by all means, follow your bliss. Just remember, every stamp you buy can’t be a good investment. And what is the Isle of Jubajaba doing issuing stamps commemorating Ulysses Grant anyway?