Collecting 'SMILERS' / Customised Sheets fast became one of newest and most exciting ways to both build up an interesting and varied collection of these Sheets as well as to also build up a possible Investment Portfolio.
There remains particular interest around the Business Customised Sheets BUT care is required. Many of these Sheets have no 'business' connections - other than to make their producers a lot of money!!! These Sheets contain superior artwork and I would especially recommend some of the more limited ones produced - for investment purposes those of no more than 100 Sheets are likely to fare better in the longer term. Some are produced in quite huge quantities and are, therefore, likely to be more easily available. Having said that some such as the Bristol Scouts Sheet are hard to obtain and expensive despite 1100 having been printed.
Many of the 'Themed' Smilers Sheets are produced purely with the 'tab' showing a particular picture and with the rest of the Sheet containing no additional artwork. These progressed to some being produced with 'over printing' which much improved their appearance and collectability - notable examples are the Art range by 'Uni-trans' but, sadly, production of these ended around 2012.
The 'Customised Stamp Sheets of Great Britain' catalogue - 2nd edition is a must for all serious collectors but is seriously now out-of-date - it contains a mass of information which is constantly updated on the 'Smilers' website.
My best advice is 'buyer beware' - you can end up paying a lot of money for Sheets which are not likely to appreciate in value. If you collect thematically then this a new way to enjoy your hobby. If you are looking for investment growth then be careful, go for the lower numbers of Sheets produced (10 - 15) or those of particular interest (e.g. original Titanic Heritage Trust) or rarity.
If you want to feel good inside support those issued for charitable causes (e.g. 'The Snowman' for the NSPCC issued by Buckingham).
Study eBay carefully - there are some real bargains to be obtained but, equally, you can may pay a lot more than you need.
Some Sellers will have you pay many times what the Sheet is worth - sometimes by x20 or more!!! Always try to buy directly from producers / issuers of the originals, there is good information about this in the catalogue referred to above which lists who produced every single Generic and Business Customised sheet. On the 'flip' side when the market goes down Sheets can even be obtained at below original issue prices - this has now happened with many Sheets.
By 2016 Bletchley Park Post Office, Planet Prints and Bradbury / History of Britain had seemingly ceased to produce any further Sheets.
DISCLAIMER: The above is information provided in a personal capacity and its accuracy can not be guaranteed nor should it be relied on in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and should carry no additional weight. The reader needs to satisfy him / herself as to what reliance, if any, to place on any of the above statements / opinions expressed.
'SMILERS' / Customised stamp Sheets
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13 July 2016
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