Christmas Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

Christmas gifts for kids are a national pursuit in many western countries during the holiday season. It is all too familiar to hear of families spending upwards of 5% of their annual income on gifts during the holiday season. Many families allot a budget in order to curb spending, but inevitably the majority falls short, overspending mostly on toys and other white elephants.

Many websites suggest gift ideas for kids. One way to ensure a working budget is with the aid of lists. The first step is to create a couple of lists by scouting for potential gift ideas for kids – one for babies and the other for toddlers. Next, build a list of recipients and the count of items their way. Once the two lists are established, in a few iterations, purchases can be balanced without exceeding the budget.

Below is a list of Christmas gift ideas suitable for babies’ up to two years of age:

ProductThumbnailBest PriceDescription
Cloud b Sound Machine Soother, Sleep Sheep, Eight Sounds$60The stuffed plush toy comes from the award winning Sleep, Sheep and Friends theme at Cloud b. The toy has eight Soothing Sounds: Mother's Heartbeat/Twinkle-Twinkle, Rain/Rockabye Baby, Surf/Classical Lullaby, and Whale Song/Tranquil Melody that automatically times out after 23 or 45 minutes. Ideal as a sleep companion, during traveling, and in unfamiliar environments.
Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether by Vulli$18.50Since its introduction in 1961, the popular product has gone on to be the ultimate teething toy. It is made of 100% natural rubber and food paint and is designed to stimulate multiple baby senses – contrasting spots for visual, squeaker for hearing, and aids for touch and smell sensations.
Razbaby RaZberry Teether$5Another teether toy that is much cheaper. We recommend going for the single-colored version rather than the multicolored ones as there is a minor risk of small pieces coming off and causing a choking hazard.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes$87 classical melodies with colorful dancing lights across the screen. Promotes auditory development and music appreciation.
Lamaze Jacques the Peacock$11.82Plush toy peacock design with soft velour body, peek-a-boo mirror and squeaker. Included link can be used for hanging from other toys such as an activity gym or play mat.
Baby Einstein Bendy Ball$6.15An innovative rattle toy made of soft flexible plastic with a rattle ball inside which makes sounds as it is rolled.
Manhattan Toy Winkel$11.23A maze of safe, soft, continuous tubes for teething babies to chew on.
Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Soothe & Glow Seahorse$12.19Similar to the traditional glowworm toy, this plush toy glows, plays soft music and soothing sounds of the ocean for 5 minutes.

Below is a list of Christmas gift ideas for toddlers (2 to 4 years):

ProductThumbnailBest PriceDescription
Cloud b Twilight Constellation Night Light$48.95Projects a starry night sky on to the walls and ceilings. It is made to help children get a peaceful night’s sleep. Comes in three colors/themes.
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks$8Sort, stack, and learn to identify and match shapes.
Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube$26.99An award winning toy that teaches how sounds combine to form true polyphonic music. Sounds from 5 instruments or combination – harp, French horn, piano, flute, and violin.
LeapFrog Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo$28.99A learning toy for toddlers with three modes: Letter, Animal, and Music.
Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Box$19.9931 pieces including 8 food items that cut into 29 pieces. The pieces are fitted together using Velcro stickers. Cutting them up makes a fun if not realistic “crunch” sound. Introduces the concept of part, whole, and fractions.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Responsibility Chart$19.99Great value for a product that features 90 magnets depicting behaviors and rewards, and a Magnetic Calendar/Dry-erase board.
Green Toys Tea Set$27.99The best toy for the environmentally conscious gift giver – made out of recycled durable plastic. The set is brightly colored and light weight. 17 pieces.
Play-Doh 24-pack of Colors$14.32As one of the most used toys among toddlers, this is a no-brainer pick.

Related Posts:
  1. Christmas Gifts for Babies and Toddlers (this post).
  2. Christmas Gifts for Kids Between 5 and 12.
  3. Christmas Gift Ideas for Teenagers.
  4. Christmas Gift Ideas for College Students.
  5. Corporate Christmas Gift Ideas.
  6. Christmas Gift Ideas for Adults.

Last Updated: 10/2016. 

Home Ownership - A Peek at Periodic Costs

The hidden advantage with renting is that it lets one off the hook from attending to the odds and ends inevitable with owning. The landlord picks up the tab on all the government charges and in some instances goes the extra mile to include most utility payments as well as the ongoing maintenance. Many rental communities offer package deals that allows for cable TV and/or access to the community gym/swimming pool. For a homeowner, all of the aforementioned and much more are ones own responsibility. In the heels of handover, a number of these additional expenses arrive unannounced and many novice homeowners are caught unaware. The list below cites some common expenses homeowners have to cope with, in addition to the monthly mortgage payments:

1. Property Taxes:

Property taxes are familiar territory for most and the majority has an approximate idea of the cost involved per year as a percentage of the assessed value. While this quoted rate is a good starting point, a number of miscellaneous items are added to the annual property tax bill. Below is a sample of such items from a property tax bill from Alameda County during the 2009-10 year, assuming an assessed value of $500,000:

Taxing Agency/Special Assessments SourceTax RateTax Amount
Countywide Tax1%$5000.00
Debt Service: City of Alameda0.0245%$122.50
Debt Service: School Unified0.0479%$239.50
Debt Service: School Comm Coll0.0362%$181.00
Debt Service: Bay Area Rapid Transit0.0090%$45.00
Debt Service: East Bay Regional Park0.0100%$50.00
Debt Service: EBMUD Spec Dist 10.0064%$32.00
Subtotal (Taxes)1.1340%$5670.00
City Sewer ServiceNA$177.48
Mosquito AbatementNA$1.74
CSA Vector ControlNA$5.92
Healthcare DistrictNA$298.00
School Measure ANA$189.00
School Measure HNA$120.00
CSA Vector Control BNA$4.08
Mosquito Assess 2NA$2.50
AC Transit Measure BBNA$48.00
EBMUD WetweatherNA$61.00
East Bay Trail LLDNA$5.44
EBRP Park Safety/MNA$12.00
Urban RunoffNA$56.14
Subtotal (Assessments)NA$981.30
Homeowners Exemptin1.134% of $7000 MAX($79.38)
Total Amount DueNA$6571.92

Although the base property tax rate is 1% of the assessed value, additional taxes and assessments add up to another 0.31%. Another type of taxes imposed on a lot of suburban communities in California is Mello-roos. Mello-roos is taxation by which the local governments establish community facility districts (CFDs) as a means to fund community improvements – the law is outside the scope of Proposition 13. Some of these taxes are deductible (base property taxes) while others are not (some types of mello roos taxes and transfer taxes). Responsibilities also include state and city transfer taxes (due when buying/selling house) depending on the location – in our case, the state component was palatable at around 0.11% (California) while the city component was a bitter pill at around 1.2% (Alameda). Property tax relief is hard to come by although sometimes very minor concessions are possible.

2. Insurance:

Home insurance options abound and in most areas home insurance companies vie for your business thereby helping keep costs competitive. The standard Home Owners Insurance (HOI) mandatory for a mortgage include coverage for losses occurring to the property, its contents, loss of its use (living expenses), loss of other personal possessions, liability coverage for accidents at the home or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy territory. The important exclusions include flood damage, earthquake, effects of war, termite damage, etc. Additional policy for these items are available – the costs vary depending on the risk to the insurer and other factors – for instance, earth quake insurance expenses for our Alameda homes started at around 0.35% of the covered value but during our period of ownership, the costs escalated to around 1%, which to us was exorbitant. On the other hand, the mandatory HOI cost hovered around 0.15% during our entire period of ownership. One probable reason for this discrepancy could be that unlike the general HOI, there is not that many home insurance companies writing earth quake protection policies.

For appliances and other electrical equipments around the house, extended warranties are offered. These coverages ward-off surprise expenses when things stop working unexpectedly. The cost is steep at upwards of 5% of the purchase price annually.

Home warranties allow insuring major appliances such as refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven, along with plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. Sometimes, one-year warranty coverage is offered as part of the deal when purchasing an older home. The well-publicized exclusions include clothes washer and dryer and for these coverage is offered at an additional cost. The relatively hidden exclusions include faucets and fixtures. We were offered a 1-year warranty through American Home Shield for our 2nd home. The service was decent for that first year – a local plumber under contract from American Home Shield fixed a problem with the dishwasher. We extended coverage for two more years at a premium of around $400 per year. It was then we realized home warranties are not worth the hype:
  • The service is not prompt and the repair work can prolong for want of replacement parts.
  • Per the contract, replacement for appliances is an option only when it is beyond repair. In our experience, when appliances get really worn out it is not energy efficient to get them functional, weighted credit towards a new purchase is a necessary alternative.
  • Exclusions such as faucets, fixtures and the like are more prone to break.
  • The fee of around $60 per visit from a service provider is a deterrent from using them for small repairs.
3. Home Owner’s Association (HOA) fees:

These are fees collected by the association (usually a non-profit corporation) to maintain common turf and protect common interests. Almost a quarter of homes in the US are under a Home Owner’s Association. Depending on the nature and square foot of the common property and facilities serviced, these fees can vary from a few tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars per month. For our newly constructed first home in Alameda, there was no HOA per se, but based on the agreement the builder had with the city around $60 per month was collected as part of the regular property tax payments. The city in turn took over the maintenance of the streets within the community and a small park-area was converted into a public park. For our second home in Bay Farm Island in Alameda, there was an HOA of around $160 per month – the community is much larger (around 3000 homes) with private streets, beautiful landscaping, a large artificial meandering water-body etc.

4. Utilities & Miscellaneous Maintenance:

Water, Garbage, Electricity, Natural Gas, etc are all living expenses homeowners encounter periodically. Individually they easily average around $50 monthly with some kind of yearly inflation adjustment built-in.

Homeowners also have to be contend with assorted maintenance expenses such as front and backyard upkeep, house cleaning, and various fixes, which could be outsourced to a handyman. On the average, it is prudent to earmark around $1K per year for an older house under 2000 square feet.

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Last Updated: 03/2012. 

Mortgage Refinancing Decision – How to

Saving money drove our mortgage refinancing decision, which is, but one from a myriad of reasons for refinancing. Some common ones are:
  • Save Money.
  • Reduce Interest Rate.
  • Reduce monthly payment – sometimes even with a higher interest rate, refinancing could reduce the monthly payment, if the loan is spread over a longer term as compared to the old one.
  • Reduce or Increase Risk – Refinancing from a 30-year fixed to an ARM mortgage increases risk while the other way around reduces risk.
  • Changing the type of mortgage – Refinancing from a 30-year fixed to a 15-year fixed or vice-versa.
  • Cash Withdrawal – This increases the outstanding loan balance and could increase the monthly payment as well. They are a good option if there is equity tied up in the house and cash is required - the option allows for a comparatively low-cost loan. This is fine as long as it is understood that a part of the house is essentially given away as collateral for the cash taken out.
  • Consolidating other debt – again, the downside is that the collateral is your house.
The benefit reaped from refinancing is directly dependent on the motive and for most of the reasons cited above, it is an easy decision. On the other hand, refinancing to save money is not a straightforward decision.

Mortgage refinancing for saving money is hard to quantify given the number of variables involved. The mortgage industry has a Rolodex of guidelines to help arrive at the mortgage refinancing decision, which is counterproductive for the most part:
  • A popular ploy among lenders is to float a figure in the range of 1-2% as a threshold – largely flawed for such a simple formula is accurate only for a small minority.
  • Another familiar industry tactic is the calculation that focuses solely on the time required to recoup closing costs and endorse refinancing if ownership of the house is expected to surpass the duration required to recoup the closing costs. The obvious, but overlooked faux pas with this approach is that it down plays to insignificant the effect of extending the mortgage era – refinancing a 30-year mortgage for a lower interest rate after 5 years results in a new 30 year mortgage essentially adding five more years of mortgage.
Although the calculations can be complex, there are ways to make an informed mortgage refinancing decision. One way is to add closing costs back into the loan amount and determine the point at which the loan balances overlap for the old mortgage compared to the new one. Below is a sample spreadsheet showing this calculation:

The spreadsheet indicates that it makes sense to refinance if you plan to stay in the house for six years or more. Another way involves determining the present value of the costs involved in a refinancing decision:
  1. Closing costs
  2. The net present value (NPV) of future cash flows for the difference in the remaining mortgage period. The NPV formula needs a discount rate which makes this value variable depending on your assumptions.
Once the present values of the costs are determined, in the amortization table for the new mortgage, determine the point at which the savings from each monthly bill payment add up to the present value. The sample spreadsheet below shows this calculation:

The spreadsheet indicates that it makes sense to refinance if you plan to stay in the house for six years or more. The former method is more intuitive and gives you an exact time period. The latter method allows for a little bit more flexibility (discount rate adjustments).

Be extremely wary of these two potentially huge pitfalls when making the mortgage refinancing decision:
  1. Recourse vs non-Recourse Debt: Some states have a non-recourse provision whereby the bank cannot come after one’s other assets, should one decide to walk away from the home. In such states, most first mortgages are classified as non-recourse while refinanced mortgages are recourse. Should there be a chance that walking away is a possibility, then it might makes sense to not refinance at all, even at the cost of higher monthly payments. 
  2. Prepayment Penalty: Many loans come with the dreaded prepayment penalty whereby the bank can collect a huge fee, if the loan is prepaid. This can be a huge deterrent when it comes time to refinance. The only way to avoid this situation is to ask and ensure that the loans do not have this penalty clause.
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Last Updated: 04/2016. 

    Mortgage Refinancing - Our Experience

    Twice we refinanced during our seven years of home-ownership in the US. The first mortgage in 2003 was a 7-1 ARM at 5.25%. Mortgage refinancing offers below 5% started pouring in within a few months of signing the papers. We resisted initially for it was our impression that the closing costs would eat away whatever savings surfaced. The next solicitation for mortgage refinancing came a few more months later at an unheard rate of 3.25% - an ARM product with an interest-only payment schedule for the first year, and adjustments every 6-months based on the MTA index with a 2% margin. The triple icing on this offer was no closing costs, fees, or points. Skepticism took this deal away for we expected it to have hidden clauses or caveats. A few months later we signed up for a 5-1 ARM at 4.5% brought forth by a mortgage broker with the same terms – no closing costs, fees, or points. A refinance mortgage broker sells mortgages on behalf of national lenders for a commission from the lender (typically 1-2% of the loan amount). Generally they abstain from seeking commission from the borrowers. These refinance mortgage brokers have the flexibility to package a mortgage product as a no cost, no fee, and no point one by quoting a slightly higher interest rate than otherwise possible. Below is a look at the average 5-1 ARM rates over the last decade:

    A common misconception surrounding mortgage refinancing is the belief that refinancing favors only those with a protracted interest in a property. The basis for this impression is that the life of the mortgage may not be long enough to recoup the closing costs and NPV (Net Present Value) of future cash flows. But, as detailed above, mortgage refinancing options at no-cost, no-fee, no-points do exist – the downside is higher interest rate. This repacking by brokers can be manna for short-term owners provided the interest rate offered is lower than their current rate. Our brush with refinancing to a no cost, no fee, no point loan for 4.5% from 5.25% immediately reduced the monthly payments by a few hundred dollars! Ensure the “No Prepayment Penalties” clause is in place as otherwise the penalties can easily obliterate any savings realized.

    When it was time to finance our second home purchase, we approached the same mortgage refinance broker. This time around it was not smooth operation – the MTA 1-year ARM rate was adjusted upwards to 3.625% and a 0.25% “point” was charged in spite of the broker’s promise that the deal would be  no-cost, no-fee, no-point at 3.25%. Lesson learnt – even with the same mortgage refinance broker, the responsibility is yours to double check the terms. That aside, it was the golden period in terms of cost of ownership as the monthly interest-only payments (no negative amortization) was below what we paid as rent for an apartment half the size in a much less desirable neighborhood. The deal still came ahead when the equation was modified to include parameters like tax benefits and fixed costs like HOA, insurance, and property taxes. We held on to this deal for 12 months. The window of opportunity with these kinds of ARM mortgages was fast shrinking as their interest rates were catching up with the 5-1 ARM counterpart. Choosing to err on the side of caution, we refinanced with a 15-year fixed mortgage at 5.375%. This time we were careful to use the services of a different mortgage refinance broker who offered a no cost, no fee, and no point option. In retrospect, as mortgage refinancing rates would remain relatively low for years, it would not have burnt us even if we had held on to the MTA 1-year ARM mortgage – the monthly payments would have fluctuated as the underlying index varied between a low of just 0.4% in May 2010 and a high of 5.03 in April 2007 (2.4% to 7.03% interest rate at the 2% margin). The risk that the mortgage refinancing rates for conventional rates would go up and then the only option would be to refinance at a higher rate never materialized during that period. Below is a look at the MTA index over the last ten years - the actual mortgage rate is around 2% more than this index value (margin):

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    Last Updated: 03/2012.

    Home Owner Loans - Playing the Mortgage Game

    Back in the 1997-1998 period, when we we first scouted for houses, the mantra regarding home owner loans (mortgages) was to try and lock-in a standard 30-year mortgage at the historically low interest rate of around 8%. Five years later (2002) when we signed papers for our first house, the only difference in the mantra was that the historical low had slid to 6%. Two years later (2004), the variation for the story was that the average 30-year fixed interest rates for home owner loans had dipped below 6% for the first time. The story gets better when comparing with the current interest rate average of below 5% for 3-year fixed mortgages – historical low does not always imply an upward tick is imminent. In fact the reverse held true for the past decade and then some. The graph below detailing average 30-year fixed rates for home owner loans over the last thirty years is an indication of the wide-range possible:

    Locking-in a fixed rate mortgage involves a premium to be paid upfront. Opting for low interest home loans such as an ARM mortgage would make more financial sense should the going trend indicate mortgage rates staying low for an extended period of time or if you plan to stay in the home only for a few years. We opted for a 7-1 ARM at 5.25% with a lifetime cap of 10.25% at 1% annual cap set-up from the eighth year onwards – we considered it a safe bet for we did not anticipate residing in that house much beyond 7 years. However, our stay in that home lasted only two years and so in hindsight a 3-1 ARM at below 5% would have been a better choice. Below is a graph that shows average 1-year adjustable ARM mortgage rates over the last twenty five years. It shows the large variance as well as consistently lower rates and correlation when compared to the classic 30-year fixed mortgage rates:

    Another category of ARM mortgages that could offer even lower rates for home mortgages are the low interest home loans tied to the rates of less commonly used underlying indexes with very short fixed rate duration (1-month to a year). Based on the underlying index, the rates can be lower during certain time intervals and higher at other times when compared with the classic 15-year and 30-year fixed rates. There are times when the discount can be very significant, even when pitted against the best rates regular (3-1, 5-1, etc) ARM mortgages offer. Some of these also possess the vital "slow moving" feature, allowing nimble homeowners to make huge strides during certain opportune periods – specifically, when rates are following a steady to slow-rising trend, these mortgages allow “capturing” the lag built into the index. All else being equal, the best bet is the one with the highest fixed rate duration – initial 1-year fixed duration with adjustments every 6-months thereafter is a prudent and popular choice with these mortgages. The best options among such indexes for ARM mortgages are:
    1. COFI (11th District Cost-of-Funds Index): It is the weighted-average rate paid by 11th Federal Home Loan Bank District savings institutions for savings and checking accounts, advances from the FHLB, etc. The prime component is the interest paid on savings accounts which lag market rates in both uptrend and downtrend, thereby ensuring the index is slow moving, and
    2. MTA (12-month treasury average index): 12 month average of the monthly average yields of U.S. Treasury securities adjusted to a constant maturity of one year. Being an average of the previous twelve months, the index is slow moving.
    It is very common for first-time home buyers to be confused between the mortgage types described so far and what are termed exotic home owner loans. The latter typically offer a teaser-rate and/or very low down payment. Such mortgages have higher overall costs associated with them and are very risky for the lender – it is all too easy to be lured into these rates and end up with a home that is not affordable. Option-ARMs are another choice that promises flexibility with respect to the monthly amount to be paid, but the downside risk is negative amortization. Nevertheless, these mortgages serve speculative real-estate buyers well by allowing them to enter deals at a relatively low on-going cost in the initial months – ideally, the turnaround of the property occurs in that time-frame as well.

    To summarize, some ideas are clear from our experience:
    1. Low interest rates on home owner loans are relative. Locking in by opting for a 15-year of 30-year fixed rate is good provided you are relatively certain that rates will not slide further.
    2. Home owner loans categorized as regular ARM mortgages are a safe bet if you can foresee how long you anticipate keeping the house.
    3. ARM mortgages with short fixed rate duration tied to MTA, COFI, and other slow moving indexes work well when home owner loan rates are steady with an upward bias.
    4. Exotic home owner loans with teaser rates and/or low down payments along with option-ARMs are geared for speculative home buyers.
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    Last Updated: 03/2012. 

      Chile - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

      Chile is a country in South America covering a long (4000 miles) narrow (110 miles average) stretch of land bordered by Peru, Bolivia. Chile covers a land area of a little less than 300,000 square miles with a population of over 17 million people making it a sparsely populated country at around 22 per square mile. Human presence dates back 10,000 years when Native Americans began settling in the fertile areas. Chile is one of the wealthiest countries in South America with a GDP (ppp) of over $14,000. Chilean economy is primarily focused on foreign trade with copper at the top of the ladder followed by wine, forestry and wood products, fresh fruit and processed food. Chileans enjoy a private pension system.

      Travel Resources:

      The area enjoys Mediterranean climate with the driest desert on earth to the North (Atacama) and rainy temperate climate to the South. The best time to visit Chile is October through March for it seldom rains then and humidity is low. The attractions of Chile are many and please all palettes – be it a thirst for natural beauty, historical or cultural quest or adventure -driven. The Attacama desert lures all - the honeymooners, poets and the adventure minded. Easter Island, Villarrica Volcano, Casablanca Valley, Miloden Cave, and Torre del Paine National Park.

      ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
      Chile and Easter Island Eyewitness Travel Guide978-0756669515$16Region-wise coverage with full-color detailed maps and beautifully illustrations!
      Lonely Planet Chile and Easter Island978-1741047790$18An introduction followed by region-wise coverage. Lot of material but not enough pictures and maps.
      Laminated Chile Map by Borch978-3866093959$111:2,000,000 scale. Inset maps of Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Vina del Mar, La Serena, Valparaiso, Santiago, Isla Robinson Crusoe, Rapa Nui Easter Island, Torres del Paine National Park, and Punta Arenas.
      Chile Grounded Adapter PlugB001FD4PHA$8

      Philatelic Profile:

      The first Chile stamps, a set of two stamps printed in London, showed a portrait of Christopher Columbus released in 1853. The stamps (Scott #1 and #2) catalogs for around $800 MNH and around $200 for used. Many varieties exist with vertical, diagonal, and horizontal halves of the 10c stamp used as 5c on cover. Santiago prints of the same design appeared the next year and varieties of the same issue in different single colors dominated Chile stamps through 1865. Many of those issues (Scott #3 to #14) are in the hundreds of dollars while some can be had for as little as $5 (fiscal cancellations). Certain error water marks are in the thousands territory as well. The Columbus theme in different designs continued all through the century. Many short and long sets along with certain overprints were issued during the period. Chief among them was a set of twelve stamps (Scott #25 to #36) released in the 1878-79 time-frame in two different designs. The set catalogs for around $100 MNH and $40 used.

      The first Chile stamps outside the Columbus theme was a set of ten stamps (Scott #58 to #76) released in 1904. The set consists of telegraph stamps overprinted and/or surcharged in black. It consists of two designs – one showing Pedro de Valdivia and the other Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms design comes in two different types – one with the animal on the left of the design showing a mane and tail and the other showing neither mane nor tail. The set catalogs for around $65 MNH and $55 used. Certain overprints on Columbus issues resumed and they dominated the Chilean stamp issues till around 1910 when they issued a set of stamps (Scott #83 to #97) as their independence centenary issue. The designs show oath of independence, Battle of Chacabuco, Battle of Roble, Battle of Maipu, Naval Engagement of Lautaro and Esmeralda, capturing the Maia Isabel, first sortie of liberating forces, abdication of O’Higgins, Chile’s First Congress, monument to O’Higgins, monument to Jose M. Carrera, monument to San Martin, General Jose Ignacio Zenteno, Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, and General Manuel Blanco Encalada. A set of fifteen stamps (Scott #98 to #112) showing great men soon followed in 1911. The designs show Columbus, De Valdivia, Mateo de Toro Zambrano, Bernardo O’Higgins, Ramon Freire, F.A. Pinto, Joaquin Prieto, Manuel Bulnes, Manuel Montt, Jose Joaquin, Federico Errazuriz Zanartu, Jose de Balmaceda, Anibal Pinto, Domingo Santa Maria, and Federico Errazuriz Echaurren. The set catalogs for around $120 MNH. The used set is very affordable at under $20. The Great Men theme in Chile stamps continued until 1936 with only a few other issues in other themes. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #186 to #197) showing local scenes was issued in 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Chile by Diego de Almagro. The set catalogs for around $20 MNH and $10 used. The designs show Atacama Desert, fishing boats, coquito palms, sheep, mining, lonquimay forest, Colliery at Port Lota, shipping at Valparaiso, Puntiagudo volcano, Diego de Almagro, cattle, and mining saltpeter. A sister set in the industrial theme soon followed in 1938. That set (Scott #198 to #209) is very affordable at around $4 MNH and $3 for used. It features Laja waterfall, agriculture, boldo tree, nitrate industry, mineral spas, copper mine, mining, fishing in Chiloe, Osorno volcano, mercantile marine, Lake Villarrica, and state railways.

      Below are other relevant Chile stamps over the years:
      1. A set of six stamps (Scott #331 to #336) released in 1960 to mark the 150th anniversary for the formation of the first National government. The set catalogs for around $5 MNH and around half that for used. The themes show a beautiful Arms of Chile design and Jose M. Carrera.
      2. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #461 to #462) released in 1975 to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the training frigate Lautaro. The set catalogs for around $10 MNH and $4 used.
      3. A set of four stamps (Scott #679 to #682) released in July 1985 in the Endangered Species theme. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH and $4 for used. The used set in a block of four commands a higher premium at around $12. The designs show chinchilla, blue whale, sea lions, and Chilean huemuls. A block of four stamps (Scott #693a-d) soon followed in the endangered wildlife theme. The set catalogs for around $10 MNH and $4 Used. The designs show canis fulvipes, phoenicoparrus jamesi, fulica gigantea, and lutra provocax.
      4. A sheet of four stamps (Scott #1185a-d) released in September 1996 in the Ecotourism in National Parks theme. The set catalogs for around $2 MNH or used. The designs show river rafting, horseback riding, snow skiing, and hiking around cacti.

      Numismatic Profile:

      Chile started minting its own coins in 1750 following permission from Spain. Following the proclamation of independence in 1810, Chile’s republican era coinage started with the introduction of Silver Pesos in 1817. The issue is valuable cataloging the $1500 range for XF. Gold coins of Chile are a popular collectible theme.

      Numismatic items of Chile include:

      ItemPrice RangeDescription
      Coins$1 and upRecent UNCs start around $1. Bi-metal UNCs from the 2000s, early 20th century silver coins in UNC, etc start around $10. Silver Pesos in VF from the 19th century start around $50. Gold coins go well into the 100s and 1000s depending on bullion value, mintage, and rarity.
      Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs from the 60s onward starts around $1. Recent replacements, polymers etc start around $15. Specimens go into the 100s.

      Collectible Memorabilia:

      Chilean handicrafts worth musing over include knitwear, and those in silver, leather and wood. Good selection of lapis lazuli a blue stone unique to Chile can be found in gold or silver. Art and antiques are also popular.

      ResourcePrice RangeDescription
      Art$5 and upPrints and posters showing old local scenes start around $5. Paintings by well-known artists like Roberta Matta, Mario Carreno, Nemesio Antunez, Enrique Zanartu, Joseph Tamargo, Rodolfo Salazar, etc go into the 1000s.
      Antiques$10 and up19th century maritime maps start around $10. Authentic maps from the 18th and 17th centuries go into the 100s.

      Last Updated: 12/2015. 


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