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FINANCE STAMPS For decades, stamps have been known to sell for huge amounts, sometimes even fetching up to seven-figure sums. Unfortunately, the chances of finding your fortune with that one rare stamp are quite slim. Your safest bet is to start a thematic collection. Examples include royalty, periods in time, or personal interests such as sports, animals or aeroplanes. You could even start collecting with your child, turning a long term investment into a bonding opportunity. Alternatively, you can go down the more clinical route. Stamp merchants Stanley Gibbons offer various “capital protected” investment plans which allows customers to purchase a portfolio of up to seven rare stamps, as long as a minimum investment of £10,000 is made over the course of five to ten years. At the end of the term, if the stamps haven’t risen in value when compared with the prices listed in their own catalogue, the company will refund investors’ money. But beware! As with most other alternative assets, this is an unregulated market so your investment isn’t protected by a compensation scheme and there’s no ombudsman to turn to should things go sour. FQ 149