Seeing my friend Simon Dunkerley's excellent as usual column last issue, detailing some of the extraordinary results from the auction of Australia from the George Zambelli Estate, has prompted me to contribute some additional comment on that subject in this column. George was a meticulous collector and kept a record of when he bought an item, from whom, and what he paid. An important client of mine in the 1970s he clearly had greater foresight in what material was going to do well as an investment than I judging from the difference between what he paid and the realisation for a few items shown in Simon’s table as having originated from me (eg 1972 cost $45, realisation $2151).
Stamp News April 2003
Zambelli’s 1960s/1970s purchases from Harmers of Sydney were even more remarkable, with the 1967 purchase of the Kangaroo 2/- brown imprint block at $92 against a realisation of $56,600 verging on the unbelievable. Clearly Harmers was the place to buy in that era. And I did. Problem is I didn’t hold for the long term.
This brings me to the purpose of repeating Simon’s information here. How does one enjoy the thrill of collecting, and George Zambelli was an enthusiastic philatelist not just a clever investor, and over the duration of a generation have the value of your collection appreciate to such extraordinary levels? It may well be that the type of material which did so well for the Zambelli Estate may continue to appreciate spectacularly during the next generation. However, I think it unlikely, particularly coming off such high dollar realisations, although I do believe that remarkable gains in values for certain philatelic categories will be achieved during the next decade and beyond.
What will be the star performers of philately in the future? In the 1970s Essay and Proof material was unpopular but look what happened. During the past decade such material has enjoyed great popularity and prices have escalated commensurately. The next categories in philately to become popular will most probably come what is presently less than popular. The collecting of Postal Stationery and stamps on commercial cover (the subject of this column) is enjoying a ground swell of interest. I believe that the popularity of these collecting categories will continue to grow and that they will produce many of the ‘star performers’ which will emerge during the next decade or more.
This issue I have selected for comment commercial usages of stamps of King George V (the first occasion for this column), the King’s son, and his grand daughter. Are items such as these destined for a bright future? Time will tell. From this issue onwards I am providing the value of subject stamps off cover by way of comparison to their on-cover valuation.
Figure 1: KGV 4d violet on a postcard to Sweden
Figure 1. KGV stamp issues have justifiably been one of the most popular collecting fields in Australian philately from the outset, particularly during the past decade. One of the more difficult issues to find used on cover is the 4d violet. Prior to 1 January 1922 it is found (and rarely so) used for double weight letters within Australia and to British Empire countries, and for the commercial papers rate (a low survival use) to Foreign countries. From this date 4d became the Foreign letter rate but the violet stamp was replaced by the blue in February 1922 allowing only a very limited period for use of the violet for this higher survival rate purpose. This 10 April 1922 use on postcard to Sweden pays the 4d letter rate when in fact the rate for Foreign postcards was 2d only. I have seen more imprint pieces of this stamp than usages on cover. Value : $200 (off cover $15).
Figure 2: Sturt set on cover from June 1930
Figure 2. A set of stamps (or in this instance more appropriately a duo) on commercial cover is always novel. This 21 June 1930 use of the Sturt pair correctly meets the 4½d internal airmail rate. Value : $80 (off cover $5).
Figure 3. 3d blue SA Centenary on advertising cover
The 3d blue commemoratives of the 1930s were largely intended for the 3d internal airmail fee, registration fee and Foreign letter rate, and most issues are not particularly scarce on cover utilised for one or other of these purposes. A popular pursuit for variety is to attempt to find ‘3d blues’ used on advertising covers such as this 12 Jul 1937 use of the 3d S.A. Centenary for the Foreign letter rate. Value : $75 (off cover $3).
Figure 4: 6d AIF used for combined foreign letter rate & registration
Figure 4. The 1940 A.I.F. 6d was primarily intended for the parcel (Scale 1) and Forces parcel rates. It is rather scarce on any type of postal article, particularly as a solo franking. Shown here is an example of solo use of 19 September 1940 for combined Foreign letter rate (3d) and registration fee (3d). Value : $100 (off cover $10).
Figure 5: Multiple 2/- Tasmania Sesquicentenaries on an overweight item
Figure 5. The 2/- commemoratives of the 1950s were primarily intended for the airmail rate to the U.K. and most overseas countries. They are not easy to find on commercial cover and usually are a solo franking when found. This item was overweight (i.e. above ½oz) and incurred the triple rate of 6/-, the utilising of three 2/- Tasmania sesquicentenary being particularly uncommon. Value : $65 (off cover $9).
Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962 and a regular Stamp News advertiser since the 1960s. He founded Rodney A Perry Auction Galleries (now Millennium Philatelic Auctions) in 1971. As a collector he has exhibited nationally and internationally. Rod prefers his used stamps on cover and likens taking a stamp off its original cover to converting a tree to woodchips.