The Gold(en) Replica Lie
No matter how they are offered, as Golden Replicas or Golden Stamps - they are far from what they seem. You can save yourself some reading if you think about one simple fact: only an official postage service like the Royal Mail, US Postal Service or Deutsche Post may issue stamps, just like only a regular country/state mint can issue currency. It is official - as stated in various court decisions against Calhoun's, the Postal Commemorative Society (PCS) and other 'collector circles' - that their reproductions of original stamps are not to be called 'stamps' as the term is misleading and illegal in that context. On top of that, many of these 'collector circles' were never granted licenses either for their work or single series meaning that the reproduction is (strictly spoken) illegal anyway. Under certain circumstances people reselling these items may be seen as trading with illegal/counterfeit material and could be prosecuted depending on country and/or state laws.
Of course people will ask how it can be that these collector circles and societies could easily trick thousands of customers into believing their marketing whitewash and still remain in business for long periods of time, even for years after first claims of fraud were voiced. First of all, most of these things came into being in the pre-internet era and even today with the internet it still takes ages for the info to spread. In fact even now many people still try to hide these facts or claim them to be plain lies ... even if court decisions and company closures clearly show the facts. Completely ignoring claims of fraud, misrepresentation and illegal marketing activities as well as undisputable court decisions like the results of the Scottish Staffa affair, folks sitting on a stash of useless junk after being cheated seem to become reality-blind.
The only folks still believing they have some collectible of value are those people directly (or via a deceased relative, indirectly) tricked into buying/owning such items. These then try to sell their items on eBay for a few bucks but in the end they have to give in to the bargain bins at philatelist meets where these 'treasures' are dumped for 50c a piece. Now one could say that stamp collectors have a sick sense of humor, but actually the philatelists have found a great use for these replicas and especially the presentation sheets: they purchase the one or other replica as representative backing for a presentation or as cover because it's cheaper than creating a classy cover themselves. Isn't it ironic that a former claimed 'collectible' itself is degraded into a marketing and presentation aid for real stamps?
That aside, take a look at one of the typical misrepresentations in this matter: the claimed value (or increase thereof) based on gold content. This part is mostly just nicely-worded marketing blah-blah, for example "... Gold stamp replicas are a form of medal or medallion and they can be an interesting way to invest in gold at the same time as acquiring historical, artistic, or antique artefacts ...". Sounds nice? Well, nothing but nonsense.
From the technical point of view more or less 'real' gold of a certain quality (mostly 18k up to 24k even if some manufacturers use lower grade gold as normal folks can't check anyway) is 'steamed' onto a carrier (e.g. tin foil) in a process similar to regular 'wet' electroplating. The resulting gold surface however is so incredibly thin (think molecular strength) that it's useless when it comes to measurable 'gold content'. With other words you would need literally tons of these replicas to receive a gold amount worth looking at (still less than a gold filling, mind). However the effort for extracting the gold would be astronomically high and one can easily say that old Greek Sisyphus had an easier job ...
You can get more real gold much easier (and much cheaper) by either simply getting a batch of real 22k+ gold leaf needed for gilding and decorating (usually 1/7000th of a millimeter thin, still much thicker than any steamed replica), a gold filling, or visiting your bank and buying a Krueger or two. Again: there is no value based on a claimed gold content of replicas.
A real stamp becomes rare and collectible by normal use, wear and tear. A gold steamed replica created in the high thousands and still freely available after thirty years is *not* rare and collectible - in fact it's not worth the paper it's printed on and the street value of these items is merely based on what a specific person is willing to pay at that time. After all there is no official independent catalog or price scale applicable as literally everybody can create his own series and catalogs with fantasy prices to match. It's just the same as every ready-to-go-collectible: overrated, overpriced and utterly useless. Ask some sobered-up collectors that invested in ready-made collectibles of all kinds (e.g. from Franklin Mint and others) and you will see that they *all* lost money, especially when considering inflation over the years.
People investing some research in this matter may find that the appraisal sites and experts - apparently aiding the collector circles in question - are often affiliated with the manufacturer, meaning that the manufacturer backs his alledged 'collectability' (and his prices) with fake statements by simulating the 'independent' opinion of a third party. Another common trick are internal sales on eBay: the manufacturer lets employee [A] offer a certain replica while employee [B], [C] and [D] create a fake bidding war on the item. The artificially bloated price is then used as reference for 'value'. As the item is per definition not really sold because the item remains in-house there is no money involved except the auction fees. And those are mere peanuts compared with the marketing effect as running ads is far more expensive.
Don't let yourself be fooled. Replicas are dead capital, period.
© 2004-2018 C.S.Marshall, all rights reserved