Stamp News April 2009
Queensland's Propaganda Envelopes initiative of the 1950s.
Before commencing the subject this month, I wish to express my profound sense of loss upon receiving the awful news of the untimely passing of Simon Dunkerley, a columnist in this magazine for many years, amongst many other philatelic achievements. Simon was a client from the age of 13, a member of staff at 18, and a friend ever thereafter. We shared a love of Philately, wherein Simon graduated to become one of the very few stakeholders for whom the title "expert" could truly be attributed. I cannot visualise his philatelic expertise and natural talent ever being fully replaced. Thoughtfulness, and a friendly smile whenever we met; but two of many of Simon's qualities I'll greatly miss.
For the column this month, I've chosen a subject which is overdue for some attention in the philatelic press. The Queensland Government illustrated "Propaganda" envelopes, introduced in the late 1950s, were a unique initiative, at a time when general Government stationery in Australia was positively bland. The designs expounded to the Nation, and internationally, Queensland's Tourist, Commerce and Industry potential. As will be seen from the scans which follow, a collection of this material could form an unusual, attractive and interesting exhibit.
Before continuing in this vein, allow me a divergent paragraph, contributed with a positive objective. Including this month's topic, out there are literally millions of worthy subjects in Philately begging collector attention. I highly recommend more collectors think outside of the square in their philatelic pursuits, and actively seek new collecting challenges. Particularly those addicted to collecting New Issues. Try asking the question, "Is this pursuit likely to fulfil for a lifetime"? Philately has much to offer, yet the enigma remains that so many never aspire to raise their philatelic ambitions beyond collecting New Issues. Inevitably disillusioned, some former devotees turn to "Australia Post Bashing" for relief. This activity of course has been de rigueur for decades, although in recent times appears to have become a philatelic sport. In this magazine alone, the activity has commandeered a full page paid advertisement by a Trade member (Feb 2009), and monopolised "Editor's Mailbag" (Mar 2009). I suggest some need to work on getting a more fulfilling Philatelic Life; selecting refreshing new philatelic pursuits from those "millions of worthy subjects". I'll happily provide suggestions to collectors who have an open mind; just email me (email@example.com). New Issues, if one still craves them, can be picked up anytime later. Around half issue price, for the diligent.
Back to Queensland Propaganda Envelopes, research indicates there are twelve design types, with a few variants. First appearance was mid-1958, in jet-black, later in shades of blue-black and blackish violet, accompanied late 1960 in shades of blue. Illustrations follow, in a sequence corresponding with appearance dates I've recorded.
Fig. 1. Holiday in Queensland A Tourists Paradise
Figure 1 is the type for which I have the earliest date recorded for the series, 21 Aug 1958. The example illustrated is a 26 Jun 1959 use from Brisbane, the very common stamps, looking somewhat more dignified used in this manner, paid the 2/3d airmail rate to U.K. This type, and most others in the series, are found in "7B" (small) and "Foolscap" (large) size envelopes. The small are generally found in black on buff (rarely on white stock), and are generally scarce. Large envelopes in black come on white or buff stock; in blue I've seen only the white stock.
Fig 2. Tourist Attractions Abound in Queensland
Politically incorrect, one could say of the Figure 2 design, but good old fashioned 'fifties fun could be another term. For those so inclined, this design more so than others has much to offer the printing variations specialist. The design was printed by letterpress, later offset, with some interesting varieties in the second technique! There are at least three design formats in the large envelopes, a circumstance not found for other designs. A Brisbane meter impression for 2 Jul 1959 was utilized for the 3½d Printed matter rate (unsealed).
Fig 3. Your Best Investment is in Queensland
One of the scarcer "7B" envelopes in Figure 3, a 28 Mar 1963 use from Main Roads Dept., Rockhampton North. Following the introduction of Decimal currency in 1966, this design is found with the "£" symbol excised. These are quite rare, found in blue only.
Fig 4. Queensland The Tropical Wonderland
Always nice to have Postal History elements present, as in Figure 4. This 30 Apr 1964 registered use from Parliament House, Brisbane, bears 2/5d aggregate franking for combined Letter rate (5d) and registration fee (2/-). The "AR" endorsement indicates the Acknowledgement of Delivery service (Avis de Recéption) service was required, the fee for which was 9d. Either this was paid in cash (unlikely), or there was a change of mind for that service.
Fig 5. Queensland the Queen State for Investors
Figure 5 is in the blackish violet shade mentioned earlier. A 5 Aug 1965 use from Brisbane to U.S., it bears solo but colourful franking of 2/- Whistler, for airmail rate.
Fig 6. Queensland The Mecca of Tourists
An 18 Jun 1969 use, Figure 6 has received a "Paid" slogan cancel, in that period struck in red, inscribed "1969 HEART / FUND APPEAL / GIVE / SO MORE WILL LIVE". This is a very scarce paid cancel, with added interest in being the popular theme of Medicine. Paradoxically, the sender was the dreaded State Land Tax Office, which of course does not have a heart.
Fig 7. Queensland The Industrial Giant of Tomorrow!
More slogan cancels, Figure 7 shows 11 Dec 1959 use of the "Santa Claus" Christmas slogan, another popular theme. The item was sent from Brisbane to an Orchardist in Wamuran, which doubtless was very rural in the 'fifties. Slogan cancels are a terrific collecting field, somewhat neglected in comparison with their chic cousin, the Circular Date Stamp (CDS) cancellation. Another of the "millions of worthy subjects" to collect.
Fig 8. World Hails Queensland's Bright Future
The designers of the "Propaganda" series could be accused of becoming a little over exuberant having regard to the design in Figure 8. "World Hails"? Perhaps the designers back in the 1950s were just a bit ahead of their time, for nowadays many around the world would not argue with this title. The Traffic Engineer's Dept made this 11 Oct 1963 use, locally at Brisbane.
Fig 9. World Acclaims Queensland's Scenic Wonders
Few would argue with the "World Acclaims" title, in the manner it's featured in Figure 9. I would have preferred to show an example without "By Air Mail" etiquettes impinging upon the design, but this use is so nice I couldn't go past it. A 27 Mar 1963 use to U.K. from Brisbane, the scarce franking of 1/- and 1/2d strip of three, an aggregate of 4/6d, was for double 2/3d per ½oz. airmail rate. This I've found to be easily the scarcest design in the series of twelve. Seen in black only, thus far.
Fig 10. Queensland The Land of Opportunity
Time I featured a blue printing envelope. The design in Figure 10 has at its centre a stylized bundle of banknotes, which prior to 1966 had symbolic "£'s" inscribed thereon (see insert). It's removal was crudely retouched along top, where the symbol had encroached, which will not escape lover's of such procedures amongst readers! This "decimalization" of design is similar to the treatment mentioned under Figure 3, although in this instance the revised design is not uncommon.
Fig 11. Queensland the Magnet for Wise Investors!
Nice franking for Figure 11, an aggregate of 4/-, which includes uncommon (on cover) 2/6d Aborigine. This 15 Oct 1959 use from Brisbane to Canada was for double 2/- per ½oz. airmail rate.
Fig 12. Queensland Wonderland of the South Pacific
The design in Figure 12 has the latest use of these envelopes I've recorded; 9 Sep 1975. The other designs were exhausted by 1970-71, so this instance may be a case of using up some previously misplaced stock. Featured is a 30 Aug 1960 use of the rare "7B" envelope on white stock, to our Orchardist in Wamuran.
Fig 13. Scarce types from another Government series initiative
The "Propaganda" series may have developed from a State Government Insurance Office concept, which from at least 1950 produced not dissimilar illustrated Official covers. More or less consecutive with our subject series, was a Main Roads and Dept. of Transport initiative, which produced a series of at least nine designs, relating to Road safely. Figure 13 shows two designs from this particular series, each the only examples I've recorded.
It would be interesting to assess if this propaganda initiative materially contributed to the subsequent emergence of Queensland as the Tourism and Industrial powerhouse we know today. There is no doubting that many "southerners" have been attracted to Queensland by one or more of attributes such as these, including me. By the time this column makes the rounds, I'll be consulting from our newly established Port Douglas office.