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Stamp News    August  2010 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 

 

On-line auctions for cover enthusiasts

Last month I alluded to the commencement of a new on-line auction, dedicated to covers and postal stationery. rap.com.au on-line auctions debuts mid August. Initially, content will comprise Australia and related only, but within months will expand to include World material. Encouraging, and continuing growth in the number of cover/stationery enthusiasts, particularly during the past few years, has emboldened me to dust down our many stock containers, housing a hoard, which has brewed for up to 20 years, and more. The opportunity to own some of this hoard is about to come within the grasp of all interested.

Why rap.com.au, well may you ask? Well, aside from that being the registered business name, in addition to the domain registration, when one's initials are R.A.P., an obvious nickname emerges, early in life in my instance. It's fair to say I was referred to as "rap" well before the first rap dancers were even a twinkle in their respective father's eyes. It could have been worse. My family name could have been Terry.

This month, forgive the bias towards an advertorial; all but one of Figures 1 to 12 are offered in the inaugural on-line auction (starting price (ie minimum bid) is given as a guide to valuations). The continuing mission of the column, however, will remain providing encouragement to those who seek to learn more about the joys of including commercial covers, and other postal articles in their collections.

                
        Figure 1. Solo franking 2/- Kangaroo with appeal to usage and p.h. collectors

The 2/- Kangaroo (CofA wmk. in the instance of Figure 1) is rare as a solo franking for the "Clipper" airmail postcard rate to U.S.; double frankings for the equivalent airmail letter rate of 4/- are common. Writers apparently preferred the degree of privacy which sealed letters provided, compared with "naked" postcards. The subject item is a particularly unusual usage; it's from a P.O.W. in Sydney. From October 1941 a concessional rate of 1/6d applied to airmail postcards sent by P.O.W.'s via the "Clipper" service, but our item, dated 2 Apr 1941, was sent during the 2/- rate regime. An item equally at home in a Usage or Postal History collection. Starting price $200.

                  
                          Figure 2. KGV d orange solo frankings rare - this unique!

The KGV d orange as a solo franking can occur only on an underpaid article; the lowest postal rate during its period of issue was 1d. Figure 2 is a 14 Jan 1924 use of the Single wmk. printing, the only solo use I've noted. Used locally at Orange (NSW), a nice touch, unlikely to be duplicated. This item is from an exhibition-prepared collection (180+ pages), which is probably a best-of-kind, to be offered in this and the next two or three auctions. The collection was offered at auction last year as a single lot, containing a number of very rare/unique usage items, reserved at $65,000. That's less than the realizations at auction of the two most expensive KGV inverted watermarks. Absurd? You bet. Starting price $500.

                  
            Figure 3. KGVI 1d red-brown perf change - common mint, rarity on cover

ACSC gives November 1941 as the month of issue for the KGVI 1d red-brown perf. change, and for usage "Postcard rate within Australia and British Empire". The earliest date of use I've recorded is 10 Dec 1941, Figure 3, and I've yet to see a usage for the stamps primary purpose of issue. Given that the postcard rate increased to 2d on 10 Dec 1941, the window of opportunity for usage of this stamp for its primary purpose may have been as little as a couple of weeks. I'd be interested if a reader has seen an example on pre-10.12.41 postcard. The stamp is very common mint, contemporary punters thought it a certain bet, and may have "warehoused" much of the printing of 1.6 million; I've handled a number of sheets over the years. Certainly it's a difficult stamp to find commercially used, supporting the low postal use, and I've recorded only six covers. Starting price $150.

                      
                                   Figure 4. At least we know this one's commercial

The 1953 Food strips are difficult to find on commercial cover; most usages are contrived to some extent. Of the small number of covers I've seen which I'm prepared to concede are commercial, so far as one say, the "red" strip is marginally more often seen. Figure 4 is a 20 Feb 1953 airmailed cover Victoria Park (WA) to U.S., where a "green" strip of four (incorporating a strip of three, of course), "reds" x3, and ancillaries provide an aggregate 2/- franking, the correct oz. airmail rate. A contrived cover more likely would have had a strip of three of "reds", although even that would not necessarily be a condemnation. Starting price $100.

            
                                       Figure 5. A "sleeper" to which I was oblivious

We all know the "cream" and "white" papers found for the 1971 Christmas issue. There were approximately 99.2 million printed of the former, and 10.9 million of the latter. The whites were therefore 9.87% of the total printings. When I calculated the cover prices for ACSC I reasoned, I thought effectively, that whites on cover should be found in the ratio of approximately 1 : 10. Originally I didn't physically check the ratio; spending a lot of time under a u/v lamp is not high on my list of fun pastimes. Inspired, however, by the recent realization of $115+ for a set of seven (no mention of paper types) on separate letter rate covers (Tasmanian Stamp Auctions), I thought it would be profitable to sort the whites from the creams amongst my stock (708 covers). A set of "whites" ought to be worth a few sovs, thought I. I inspected the comparative u/v reactions of mint before commencing; stamps on cover, provided they have not been subjected to surface moisture, react the same as for mint. The "whites" fluoresce white under the lamp, the "creams" pinkish. After checking about 100 covers, and finding just one "white", I thought I must be doing something wrong. My method rechecked, I proceeded patiently (well, occasionally) to wade through 700+ covers. Just ten "whites" were isolated! That's about 1.5% of the total and, unsurprising given the disproportionate numbers printed for two of the designs, not a set amongst 'em.

My theory for the quantum discrepancy? Use of the white paper was a first, and collectors/speculators "pounced" on it. In 1971, one of my staff, who followed the Modern Scene, recommended I buy a quantity. I have a vague recollection that he mentioned the new paper was available only at Philatelic Bureaux? (I may be proven wrong on that theory, I hasten to add.) It would appear for certain, however, that the whites saw limited postal use as a consequence of heavy philatelic speculation. Footnote: I shelled out $1050 for 150 sheets of whites, wholesaling them off during 1972 for between $9 and $12 per sheet. Sheets went to $800+ each by the late 'seventies, doubtless some of my $9/12 per sheet clients thanking me for that.

One of the ten "finds" is shown as Figure 5, a 23 Nov 1971 airmail use to TPNG. The 13c franking represents "Other Articles" 7c (the Christmas stamp) up to 2ozs. + air surcharge 3c per oz. x2 (6c Booklet stamp). Kevin Duffy Stamp Auctions, Sydney, was the sender, and it's probably reasonable to expect that firm then bought their postage stock at the Philatelic Bureau. Starting price $50.

                
                                                       Figure 6. Solos ain't solos!

The 30c denomination is the most often found on cover of the 1971 Aboriginal Art series. As a solo franking, it's not difficult to find, generally. My census comprised airmail to Zones 4 (106) and 5 (12), but just a solitary single Figure 6! This is a 17 Dec 1974 use Clayfield (Qld) to Sydney, 30c representing 10c Letter rate + 20c Priority paid fee. Sorry, this one is from our reference collection, not in on-line auction (value north of $100).

                   
                                   Figure 7. First I've seen in over 20 years seeking

The concessional airmail rate for U.K. Forces in Australia, when writing back to U.K., was just 6c. I've written previously about the rarity of 6c's Bird, Flower and QEII, of which I've seen between one and four examples. The 6c Gemstones used for this purpose had escaped me until Figure 7 dropped in my lap very recently. It's used 10 Jun 1977, from Watson's Bay (NSW), and bears the bold "Naval Postage/Concession Rate" handstamp, which that installation possessed. Such items, in my opinion, are little philatelic gems (pun unintended). Starting price $200.

                         
           Figure 8. Slogan cancels: very high on my list of should-do collections

Numeral and Circular datestamp (cds) cancellations, rightly, are very popular with Australia/Colonies collectors. Some individual cancels now realize up to a few thousand Dollars. Many slogan cancels are just as rare, but are comparatively unloved, selling for just Dollars. Attempted on a National scale slogans are a big field, superbly researched in Occleshaw's Australian Slogan Cancellations (2 vols). If you're looking for a worthy new challenge, perhaps at a State or Thematic level, I highly recommend go out and find your Occleshaw's and prepare for a lot of fun, at amazingly little cost in relation to scarcity of much of the material. Figure 8 is an extract from a group of Australia-wide covers bearing various dies of the "Santa Claus" slogans, introduced in the 1930s. There are many variations of depictions of the legendary character, and dies, some so grotesque that the kids probably would not wish to see that likeness emerging from the chimney on Christmas Eve! Would make a great one-frame exhibit subject. Starting price $100.

                    
                                              Figure 9. One for Colonial enthusiasts  

My philatelic interests nowadays are very 20th century centric. I haven't forgotten my Colonial roots, however, and a sprinkling of earlier material is featured. Figure 9 is a rather scarce South Australia 1899 d "O.S." uprate of an Official 1d Postal card, the additional franking required for 1d Foreign postcard rate, to unusual destination of Bohemia, Austria. Starting price $75.

                           
                            Figure 10. Unusual Hobart commercial Cinderella of 1906

I quite like Cinderellas, particularly when used commercially and tied to cover. Figure 10 is an unusual example, inscribed for A.P. Miller & Son, Chemists and Druggists, Hobart, tied by a curious intaglio obliterator in blue to a locally addressed postcard. I've not seen this particular item previously. Starting price $150.

                  
                  Figure 11. And you thought Australian airmail postcards were difficult

Australian Territories/Former Territories usage is a very worthy challenge. I do TPNG (see Figure 12), but a paucity of material for Norfolk Is. convinced me I didn't have the patience for tackling that country. Figure 11 is a rarity which would have been very welcome in my collection, had I've kept it evolving. Airmail postcards from Australia are scarce/rare, so it doesn't take much imagination to appreciate just how rare such articles will be emanating from N.I. On 8 Nov 1967 the airmail letter rate to N.Z. was 10c, and the airmail postcard rate was 5c. Starting price $100.

                       
              Figure 12. TPNG 1/- Malaria with very appropriate Red Cross slogan cancel

The TPNG 1962 1/- Malaria as a solo franking would probably have been non existent were it not for the survival of the Lawson's of Solomon Is. correspondence. Figure 12 is a nice example of a survivor; the stamp tied by Red Cross slogan cancel paid the 1/- oz. airmail rate. Out of curiosity, I did the stats on my TPNG 1952-66 stamp usage exhibit. Of the 128 pages in the exhibit, this would reduce by fully 55 pages were the Lawson contribution excised. A number of stamps are known to me used only on Lawson covers, so I doubt I'd be able to campaign more than a five-frame exhibit of TPNG without the Lawson presence, seminal to a TPNG usage collection. Starting price $100.

                  
                                         Figure 13. Yes, I do Israel usage; 1948-60

So ends the promo for the upcoming on-line auction. Unrelated to that event, Figure 13 is, for me, a delightful nostalgia item, seen recently on eBay. A 1950 registered airmail cover from Israel to Caulfield, Melbourne, the article is addressed to Charles Zuker. "Charlie" is almost unknown to present day collectors of Australia, but in the 1960s and 1970s was the most powerful collector of Australian Commonwealth. In a very short timeframe, he formed one of the top two or three collections of all time.

I have fond memories of being summoned in the late 'sixties to his amazing mansion in Toorak, straight out of a James Bond movie, and ordered "bring all ya new stuff with ya". Arriving at the grand entrance door, I'd be greeted by this jovial giant, over 30 stone in the old money (around 200kgs). Charlie's love of Philately was highly infectious, and most of my home visits were congenial, always memorable. On one occasion, around 1971, my "new stuff" included a bundle of 1914 1d Engraved covers, identically inscribed for Longmore's, the Melbourne Chemists. This bundle of several dozen covers had come my way as part of a mixed lot, purchased in a P.J. Downie auction (those were the days). I suggested to Charlie that he might like to go through the covers at his leisure, and select those with varieties, which he could retain at $1 per cover. Clearly no cover aficionado, Charlie took one glance at the bundle and handed it back to me, booming in his rather intimidating voice "Mate, what a heap of mullock!". Deflated, and not desiring to have "mullock" in my stock, I promptly began wholesaling off these covers, at about the value of used stamps off cover. Millennium Auctions had a Longmore's cover in the June 2010 sale, Lot #379, estimated at $450. (See under Figure 14 for the finale.)

                
                                              Figure 14. Every cover has its story

My inaugural Postal Bids Sale, which wasn't given a number as I probably suspected it would be my first and last, closed on 15 June 1971 for lodgement of bids. Lot #169 was "Engraved KGV: 1d on cover, incl registered, variety of pmks (20 covers)". Estimate was $6.00, suggesting even I was not a born cover aficionado. I don't have the prices realized, and cannot be certain even if the lot sold. If it did, the realization would have been unspectacular; I hope the purchaser still has that lot. Every one of those 20 covers was with the inscription shown in Figure 14, virtual clones of the Millennium lot (see under Figure 13). Not allowing for the "registered" content, which would be premium items, based upon the Millennium valuation, my six bucks lot would now be worth in the vicinity of $9000. Lot #179 in my inaugural sale was "Engraved KGV: 1d shades incl blks, prs MUH (100)", Estimate $30. Interestingly, the unit price for used on cover, and unmounted mint, was then estimated at 30 cents. How times have changed in nearly 40 years!

 

Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962. 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.