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Stamp News    December  2007

                              Woodchip-free Zone 

Kangaroos. With a twist.

Australia's "Kangaroos", with justification, are very popular here and abroad. Everyone knows that, you say! Of course, but as I have raised in this column on more than one occasion, Kangaroos on cover/card/parcel label or tag (let's say "entires") have comparatively few devotees. I find this puzzling, for I'm one of a steadily growing band who see far greater growth potential in Kangaroos on entire than for the equivalent stamps mint or used. For "potential" read as an exhibit (for those so inclined), for maximum interest (for the more demanding), and as an out-performing investment (which, sadly, fewer in Philately enjoy than they should, and could). It's no coincidence that the fortunate owner of the world's finest collection of Kangaroos on entire philatelically classifies himself as an "Investor/Exhibitor". That gentleman sold his mint and used Kangaroos to concentrate on stamps on entire.

Why do I prefer my Kangaroos on entire? Simply stated, I like my Philately to be a challenge. Attractive Kangaroo entires are really hard to find. In comparison, Kangaroos mint and used (off entire) are generally readily available, for those with the "readies". Check out the Kangaroo section in virtually every major Australian auction catalogue if you doubt my "readily available" claim. Along with a challenge, I also prefer my Philately to be abundant in pleasure and profit. When found, nice Kangaroo entires are generally surprisingly affordable, which is inconsistent with their scarcity. Accordingly, I predict during the next decade that Kangaroos on entire will considerably out-perform traditional Kangaroo material. Would Arthur Gray have sold his great Kangaroo collection (which contained very few entires) if he believed the top of the market for traditional material had not been reached? To know Arthur Gray is to know the answer to that question.

This month I feature Kangaroos used in combination with the stamps they replaced: the issues of the Australian States. Kangaroos with a twist, indeed. Specialists are fond of such combination items, featuring as they do stamps from philatelically different countries. Deliberately created "novelty" items bearing State/Kangaroo combinations are often seen. The subjects selected for this article, however, have been genuinely used for the prepayment of a required postal service. These are items of a commercial nature, economically utilising stock on hand of the outgoing State stamp issues, prior to requisitioning the relevant denominations of the new issue Kangaroos.

           Figure 1.
5d stamp of N.S.W. lasted 58 years until displaced by Kangaroo

Figure 1 is an 11 Mar 1913 combination of Kangaroo 3d, 2d and N.S.W. 5d, registered at Sydney and destined for Germany. The 10d rate represented 7d for 1-1oz. Foreign letter rate (2d per oz. x 3) plus 3d registration fee. 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 stamp was first issued (imperforate) in 1855, and may claim the duration record for an Australian stamp.

                                          Figure 2.
Museum to Museum correspondence

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 odd 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 only. 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 d 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 it's stock of old issue d stamps. The Foreign letter rate increased from 2d to 3d (the extra d a War Tax) on 28 Oct 1918, so our subject is actually underpaid.

                       Figure 3.
Wrapper a sought-after item by Stationery collectors

Another Official item, Figure 3 is a use from Brisbane on 13 Dec 1913 of "O.H.M.S." handstamped Kangaroo d Stationery wrapper uprated with Queensland d punctured "OS" for 1d Foreign printed matter rate (1d per 2oz.) to U.S. The Official wrapper is rare in it's own right, and this combination makes for a highly desirable item. You may have noted by now that I'm not valuing the subjects individually this month. If I did, the market values would vary between $500 and $5000. There are presently three major collectors of State/Kangaroo combination items, and none of them like to be the underbidder at auction! Yes, I recommend collecting Kangaroo entires, but only the very brave should take up combination items exclusively.

                                          Figure 4.
d Queensland stamps linger longer  

The Queensland d punctured "OS" features again in Figure 4, on this occasion on an Official postcard inscribed for Queensland Museum, in combination with similarly punctured Kangaroo 1d (large punctures). The two pay 1d Foreign postcard rate to U.S., departing Brisbane 21 Aug 1913. Kangaroo d stamps were supplied to Brisbane as early as 9 Jan 1913, but as evidenced in this and Figure 3 the old issue d lasted throughout 1913.

                          Figure 5.
Heavy item - sought-after equally by S.A. specialists

Heavy in more ways than one, Figure 5, is amongst the pre-eminent items extant in State/Kangaroo combinations. The 1/- "Long" stamp of South Australia is rare on postal articles of any kind, and most likely 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, 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. 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, some would say, me amongst them.

  Figure 6.
Attractive combination - tricolour stamps, blue/black label, purple handstamp

Forgive me for repeating Philately as Art, but what a terrible loss it would have been to Australian Philately to have Figure 6 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 very ordinary off-cover used stamps. The Kangaroo 3d and 1d x 2, and Tasmania Pictorial d paid the registered Foreign letter rate for this 24 Jul 1913 article from Wynyard to U.S. Proof yet again that most used stamps off cover are but the ghost of their former glory.

                          Figure 7.
More abstinence from wood-chipping for Tasmania

Another nice registered cover from Tasmania in Figure 7, where Pictorial 2d x 2 and Kangaroo 1d paid registered British Empire letter rate (2d -1oz. + 3d) from St.Mary's to N.Z. on 10 Jun 1913. Although addressed to pioneer Philatelic traders, Wilcox Smith & Co., this is a legitimate use of the State 2d stamps, which are known to have been in oversupply for many months after the appearance of the Kangaroo series.

                         Figure 8. One of the most attractive of State/Kangaroo covers

Figure 8 ought to please even the more recalcitrant where cover-collecting is concerned. This is a 19 Jul 1913 use of an Allan & Co. advertising envelope from Melbourne to Germany, the Kangaroo 2d and Victoria 3d paying 5d -1oz. Foreign letter rate (2d per oz. x 2). The ENGLISH MAIL T.P.O. datestamp is uncommon, rounding out a very pleasing item indeed.

                                            Figure 9.
Ochre and orange anyone?

An unusual although attractive stamp combination that in Figure 9. The Victoria 3d ochre and Kangaroo 4d orange are affixed to a registered parcel tag sent from Stock Exchange Melbourne to Turramurra (N.S.W.) on 12 Apr 1913. The 7d franking is actually too low for a registered interstate parcel (the minimum postage for that combination was 11d). This franking most likely was for commercial papers weighing 6-8ozs. (4d) plus registration fee (3d).

                         Figure 10.
Triple combination - Switzerland, Victoria, Australia

Always nice to have State or Commonwealth Stationery uprated, particularly where there is a combination of the two. Figure 10 is an example of the Kangaroo 1d Letter card uprated with a Victoria d, sent from Mt.Martha to Switzerland 20 May 1913. A problem arose in that the 1d total franking was adequate only for the Foreign postcard rate, the Foreign letter rate was 2d, 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.

                                         Figure 11.
Racist comment 1913-style?

An unusual item is that shown as Figure 11. The sender 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 d x 2 and Kangaroo 1d adds to the effect, paying 2d -1oz. British Empire letter rate. Sent by one Herbert Gravenor Appleby (our "artist") 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".

     Figure 12.
W.A. Swan and Australia Kangaroo - excellent Ambassadors to Europe

Yet another attractive combination franking in Figure 12, where the Western Australia 5d and Kangaroo d pay the registered Foreign letter rate. Sent from Perth 31 Mar 1913 to Belgium. I wonder have I won over a convert or two from traditional Kangaroo collecting? Go on, encourage me.

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.