Stamp News August 2011
"A Great White, in your swimming pool"
Woodchip-free Zone Stamp News August 2011 "A Great White, in your swimming pool" Last issue I alluded to the opening of an office/shop in Port Douglas, Far North Queensland. Rod Perry's Postal History is now operating from Shop 6 (adjacent Post Office), 48 Macrossan St, Port Douglas. I mentioned the opening in this charming, village atmosphere town to a friend, making light of a suggestion that some in Philately may thereby rate me a rather big fish in a small pond. "Big fish in a small pond? More a Great White, in your swimming pool", he fired back.
This is my second stint as a one man band philatelic shop proprietor. The first was in 1972, when I opened a shop in an arcade in Bourke St, Melbourne. On that occasion, nearly forty years ago, I knew I'd made a mistake as early as my first day of trading. The inaugural sale was to a gentleman who, after several minutes of philatelic small talk, bought no more than a packet of stamp hinges. From that day on, I plotted a graceful exit from a hole that I had dug for myself. Hopefully, this time around, I'll be more of a stayer. Of one thing I can reasonably be assured: it's not likely there will be any opposition opening in Port Douglas real soon.
This month I'm featuring a number of items from my collection of State/Kangaroo combination items. In July, I mentioned the entire collection, consisting of 59 items, will be offered by Phoenix Auctions. The sale date, as I write, is scheduled for 8 October 2011. This will be an opportunity for enterprising, visionary philatelists to take up the challenge of bettering what I've managed during the past 25 years collecting this subject. Pursuing a collection of Kangaroos mint only (including "unmounted"), all one has to do is front up with the cash in order to walk away with a complete basic collection. Hardly inspiring. On the other hand, nice Kangaroo combination covers really take some finding. Suffice to say, I added barely two items per year on average for the duration I was collecting, and budgetary constraints were not the reason for that modest growth rate.
My combinations collection is presented in three distinct categories:
A. State stamp and Kangaroo combinations B. State Stationery and Kangaroo stamp combinations C. Kangaroo Stationery and State stamp combinations
Overwhelmingly, Foreign destinations predominate. This is largely due to Foreign rates being 1½d (postcards) or 2½d (letters), providing scope for greater combination usage, encompassing fractional denominations, which Domestic and British Empire rates (1d postcard or letter) did not. The statistics, for those interested, are Foreign destinations (41), British Empire destinations (7), Domestic (11). The estimated values given are by Phoenix Auctions.
State stamp and Kangaroo combinations
Figure 1. Venerable N.S.W. 5d seldom seen combination with Kangaroos
The 5d Kangaroo had been supplied to Sydney on 1 Feb 1913, but residuals of the State issue 5d were still available for use. That was the case, at least, at Sydney Post Office on 1 Mar 1913, when in Figure 1 the N.S.W. 5d was used in combination with Kangaroo 3d, 2½d for registration to Germany. The 10½d rate, thought to be unique in this particular franking configuration, represented 7½d for 1-1½oz. Foreign letter rate (2½d per ½oz. x3) plus 3d registration fee. The N.S.W. stamp was first issued (imperforate) in 1855, and may claim the duration record for an Australian stamp. Estimate $1500.
Figure 2. Late combination, to a Museum built for a Princess
Generally, I would prefer to see combination usage of State/Kangaroo issues no later than the end of 1913. By that time most residual stock of State stamps could reasonably be expected to be exhausted, although there are exceptions. One does occasionally encounter commercial usages in 1914 and beyond, but more often than not these late combinations are contrived by Philatelists for novelty interest. One exception to the general rule is the use of State stamps punctured for Official use. Figure 2 is an example, an instance of punctured "OS/NSW" State ½d and Kangaroo 2d used 16 May 1919 from Australian Museum Sydney (inscribed on flap) to a Museum in Honolulu. It appears the Sydney Museum had little demand for its stock of old issue ½d stamps. The Foreign letter rate increased from 2½d to 3d (the extra ½d a War Tax) on 28 Oct 1918, so our subject is actually underpaid. The Hawaiian Museum was built in 1889 in honor of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last in a family line which once ruled the Kingdom of Hawaii. Estimate $1000.
Figure 3. "Widow's weeds" Queensland ½d: unflattering portrait of Queen Victoria
The Queensland ½d punctured "OS" features twice this month (see also Figure 18). One wonders if Queen Victoria ever approved of this unflattering miniature in her "image". Figure 3 has the ½d on Official postcard, inscribed for Queensland Museum, in combination with similarly punctured Kangaroo 1d (large puncture). The two pay 1½d Foreign postcard rate to U.S., departing Brisbane 21 Aug 1913. Kangaroo ½d stamps were supplied to Brisbane as early as 9 Jan 1913, but as evidenced in this and Figure 18, the old issue ½d Official lasted throughout 1913. Estimate $1000.
Figure 4. Unknown to Philatelists until early 2000s; now one of the top items in the field
My favourite in this collection, Figure 4, was in fact unknown to Philatelists until the early 2000s, when the proverbial "little old lady" bought it in to a Sydney Auction House. The 1/- "Long" stamp of South Australia is rare on postal articles of any kind, and this is a unique combination of not less than three examples of that stamp, with Kangaroo 4d pair. The whole is affixed to South Australia black on pink "INTER-STATE PARCEL POST" label, a rarity in itself, further affixed to parcel-wrapping which included a name and address label (fragment only now remaining). We know the parcel was sent from Mt.Gambier on 23 Jun 1913 to "Mrs Samson", who resided interstate (the P.O. label tells us that). We also know the parcel weighed 7 lbs. The interstate parcel rate was 1/2d for the 1st 2lbs. and 6d per lb. thereafter; hence 1/2d + 6d x 5 = 3/8d. Philately as Art, it's fair to add. Estimate $5000.
Figure 5. Writer more inclined towards classic stamps
Archival records show there to have been 1,420,800 of the Tasmania Pictorial ½d in stock at the end of 1912. There was therefore limited need to requisition the new ½d (Kangaroo) stamp, as supplies of the State ½d issue would have taken many months to consume; I've seen commercial usage of that stamp as late as March 1914. That ready availability of State stamps would probably have pleased the writer of the postcard shown as Figure 5, bearing Kangaroo 1d and Pictorial ½d, for Foreign postcard rate. A real photo postcard, sent from Nile to U.S. on 5 May 1913, it includes in the message "snap shot of a bit of my garden", and cryptic "I hoped to have some of our hideous new stamps to send you but will send them later when I have some of the higher values". Estimate $250.
Figure 6. Pioneer Traders, N.Z.'s Wilcox Smith & Co., we thank for not being woodchippers
Another Tasmania stamp in oversupply at the close of 1912 was the Pictorial 2d. Figure 6 has two of these, and Kangaroo 1d, paying registered British Empire letter rate (2d ½-1oz. + 3d) from St.Mary's to N.Z. on 10 Jun 1913. Addressed to pioneer Philatelic traders, Wilcox Smith & Co., who, mercifully, were renowned for preserving incoming covers intact. The early blue and black St.Mary's registration label is rare. Estimate $1000.
Figure 7. Philately as Art, again
Forgive me for repeating Philately as Art, but what a terrible loss it would have been to Australian Philately to have Figure 7 meet the same fate which befell 99+% of contemporaneous covers. Good fortune has smiled, and we have a delight to behold, rather than four otherwise moribund off-cover used stamps. The Kangaroo 3d and 1d x2, and Tasmania Pictorial ½d paid the registered Foreign letter rate for this 24 Jul 1913 article from Wynyard to U.S. Evidence, if it was needed, that most used stamps off cover are but a ghost of former glory. Estimate $2000; about what I paid at auction nearly a decade ago.
Figure 8. Quaint Merchandise, Patterns & Samples rate
An unusual although attractive combination is that in Figure 8. Here, the Victoria 3d ochre and Kangaroo 4d orange are affixed to a registered mailing tag, sent from Stock Exchange Melbourne to Turramurra (N.S.W.) on 12 Apr 1913. The 7d franking paid the 1d per 2ozs. Merchandise, Patterns & Samples rate x4 + 3d registration fee. Such items rarely survive, and when they do it's a treat to find one this alluring. A rarer usage of a Kangaroo 4d, for a specific rate, would be a challenge to find. Estimate $2500.
Figure 9. Extreme rarity not immediately apparent
Figure 9, along with a number of other items in this collection, may well end up being owned by a collector who is not a State/Kangaroo combination collector per se. This 11 Jul 1913 cover, Melbourne to N.Z., bears extraordinary franking of coil vending machine dispensed Victoria 1d and Kangaroo 1d, the characteristic "knife" mechanism separations clearly evident in both instances. The Victoria stamp is positioned slightly over left side of Kangaroo, suggesting it was affixed subsequently, to address the late posting fee (1d) evidenced by "LATE/FEE/STOCK EXCHANGE/VIC" duplex cancel. The Stock Exchange Post Office must have had at least two coil vending machines in situ, simultaneously dispensing State or Kangaroo stamps. Coil stamps of this early era are extreme rarities on cover, and this combination I would not have believed if I had not seen it. Est $1500.
Figure 10. The record-holder for a combination cover in its day
Not too difficult to understand why Figure 10 realised close to $4000 with the add-ons when sold at auction in 2003. That was then the record price for a State/Kangaroo combination item. A 10 Jul 1913 use of an Allan & Co. advertising envelope from Melbourne to Germany, the Kangaroo 2d and Victoria 3d paid 5d ½-1oz. Foreign letter rate (2½d per ½oz. x2). The ENGLISH MAIL T.P.O. datestamp is uncommon, rounding out a very pleasing item indeed; eye candy it's fair to say, which ought to satisfy even the most recalcitrant where cover-collecting is concerned. Estimate $3000.
Figure 11. Herbert clearly had way too much time on his hands
An unusual item is that shown as Figure 11. The sender, one Herbert Gravenor Appleby, has gone to considerable effort to ink-out the whole of the envelope-front, save for that area which constitutes the name and address of recipient, and a cryptic "MY WHITE HOPE!" The combination of Western Australia ½d x2 and Kangaroo 1d adds to the visual effect, paying 2d ½-1oz. British Empire letter rate. Sent from Newcarnie 29 Dec 1913, the sender has kept us fully informed of departure details by endorsing the rear of the cover "p R.M.S. Orsova/Orient 30 Dec". Estimate $1000.
Figure 12. Wildlife on stamps, lame early tourism propaganda?
Postal authorities in 1913 in Western Australia and the Commonwealth probably didn't give a second thought that their stamps might be seen abroad as tourism ambassadors (Tasmania clearly saw such potential, issuing an attractive Pictorial series in 1899). Figure 12, an attractive combination of Western Australia 5d "Swan" and Kangaroo ½d, for registered Foreign letter, was sent from Perth to Belgium 31 Mar 1913. Who knows, it might well have instilled some romantic longing to visit the exotic land downunder when the article was received in Brussels by Frau Schmitt? Estimate $1500.
State Stationery and Kangaroo stamp combinations
Figure 13. 8,230 N.S.W. Registered envelopes on duty for use in early 1913
Around two months supply of N.S.W. 3d Registered envelopes were on hand in early 1913. Figure 13 has one used from Sydney to Adelaide on 20 Jan 1913, uprated with Kangaroo 2d for double Letter rate. This is another of those items probably destined for a collection other than combinations. This is a very early use of the Kangaroo stamp, a contender for the earliest commercial usage extant. Three FDCs are recorded, dated 15 Jan. Estimate $2000.
Figure 14. Elusive usage of S.A. Stationery 1d Envelope
South Australia, along with the West, is the least encountered for State/Kangaroo combinations. Stationery, such as Figure 14, is rare. This 9 Jul 1913 use of 1d Envelope, uprated with Kangaroo 1d and S.A. ½d Adelaide G.P.O., is an attractive composition for the 2½d Foreign letter rate, Gladtone to U.S. Est $1000
Figure 15. W.A. Registered envelope Kangaroo uprate
Archival records do not inform us of the number of Registered envelopes available for use in W.A. at the time of introduction of the Kangaroo series. The figure must have been quite low. What we do know, is that Irwin P.O. had at least one 3d Registered envelope, for on 8 Dec 1913 it was uprated with Kangaroo 1d x2, and sent to Perth. Est $2500
Kangaroo Stationery and State stamp combinations
Figure 16. Appealing taxed item for Commonwealth Stationery collection
A collection of taxed State/Kangaroo combination items would be a scant collection indeed. I managed a ratio of two taxed in 59. Figure 16 is an example of the Kangaroo 1d Letter card uprated with a Victoria ½d, sent from Mt.Martha to Switzerland 20 May 1913. A problem arose in that the 1½d total franking was adequate only for the Foreign postcard rate, the letter rate was 2½d, and accordingly the article was taxed on arrival in Switzerland. The 20 centimes Postage due represented the equivalent of double deficiency for the 1d postage shortfall. Estimate $1500
Figure 17. Colourful Stationery uprate Philately is a visual science, and items such as Figure 17 are, to my eyes at least, always welcome. A 3 Jun 1913 use of Kangaroo 4d Registered envelope, it was uprated with N.S.W. ½d blue-green and Kangaroo 1d for registered Foreign letter rate Sydney to U.S. Est $1000
Figure 18. Destined for a Commonwealth Stationery collection?
Figure 18 is odds-on to end up in a Commonwealth Stationery exhibit. It is one of the great rarities amongst Wrappers. This 13 Dec 1913 Official use from Brisbane of "O.H.M.S." handstamped Kangaroo ½d Wrapper is uprated with Queensland ½d "Widow's weeds" punctured "OS", for 1d Foreign printed matter rate (1d per 2oz.) to U.S. Estimate $2000.
Why collect such material? Well, here are five reasons why I did:
1. The convergence of two philatelically distinct stamp issuing "countries", often with equal appeal to State and Commonwealth collectors 2. Historic, highly significant transitional period in Australian Philately 3. Most will be centenarians in 1913 4. Generally attractive, often colourful postal history items, incorporating the first Commonwealth stamp series 5. Excellent value for money, in comparison to rarity
The aggregate estimated value placed upon my collection by Phoenix Auctions, backed as it is by informed research, tallies at about what I anticipated. Even so, I can't help feeling bemused by the fact that the estimated total value approximates the realization for just two used Kangaroo stamps in the Cornwallis collection (see this column, May 2011): the inverted watermarks for the visually challenged 6d Second (Hammer £19000) and Redrawn 2/- (£17000). I'm aware some collectors don't appreciate my inverted watermark bashing, so I won't go there yet again. I do, however, find the comparison in market values between these two uninspiring stamps, and the State/Kangaroo combinations collection, well, inescapably "interesting".
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.