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Stamp News    December 2005

                              Woodchip-free Zone   

King George VI - When common becomes uncommon (Part II).

Part I of this two-part article appeared in the February issue. Then I featured issues for the period 1937-41, and on this occasion it’s the final decade of the King’s reign. In the first part I mentioned that Brusden-White’s ACSC-series  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II – 1952-1966 were to be combined in to a single publication. Geoff Kellow, catalogue series editor, now advises that owing to size constraints the two sections will remain as stand alone publications, with delivery to the printer imminent.


          Having recently despatched to Geoff my suggestions for revision of the prices for the ‘On cover’ column in the catalogues, it’s perhaps timely for this completion of the overview of KGVI issues used on commercial cover. Most readers hopefully should agree the selected subjects are good examples of ‘When common becomes uncommon’.


           Figure 1.  The little ½d Kangaroo looking ever so lonely


The 1938 ½d Kangaroo underwent a perforation change in 1942 and in 1949 was converted to unwatermarked paper stock. This 22 Nov 1953 solo use of the last issue is particularly interesting. It was posted to Melbourne by a Corporal serving with the Australian Contingent during the Korean War (‘AUST UNIT POSTAL STN/388’) was the datestamp then allocated to 2 Battalion R.A.R.). The cover has been trimmed at sides as if to fashion it into a makeshift wrapper for the conveyancing of printed matter. We know of a ½d newspaper rate for U.K. Forces serving in Australia (although I have yet to see an example of that usage). Figure 1 is the first ½d solo rate I have recorded and I can’t find any reference to it having been a legitimate rate for Defence Forces Concessional Mail. Surface postage was free for those serving in Korea, but airmail for printed matter at ½d appears generous. The article was permitted to travel without taxing so either it was a legitimate use or was simply overlooked as underpaid, perhaps by a sympathetic Postal officer. Whatever the circumstances, this is a rare solo usage. Value : $100 (off cover zero).


        Figure 2.  Photos unlikely to be arriving in your mailbox any day soon


On 28 Feb 1950 the folder in Figure 2 was sent from Colac to Beeac (Vic), and the photos it contained would have been eagerly awaited by the addressee. The Printed matter rate was then 1½d only (it became 2d on 1 Dec 1950) so the article was actually overpaid by ½d. The excitement in receiving photos in those days would no doubt have greatly outweighed consideration of correct postal rates. Value : $10 (off cover zero).


             Figure 3.  1940s 3½d ‘blues’ were intended for export


The five 3½d blue commemorative issues of the ’forties were issued primarily for the Foreign letter rate. They are rather uncommon used for that purpose and are more often encountered as a make-up value for domestic registered mail or above base rate (2½d) articles. Figure 3 is quite unusual in being a solo domestic use of a 3½d Mitchell on 13 Mar 1947 from Sydney to Newcastle. The machine-applied cancel conveniently tells us that this was a ‘Late fee’ article (a mss. marking at top further confirms its status) which incurred a cost of 1d over and above the standard 2½d Letter rate. I have suggested a cover price of $20 in ACSC for a more ‘garden variety’ use of this stamp, but this is a scarcer and more desirable usage. Value : $50 (off cover 30c).


         Figure 4.  1950, when hats were sent by mail more often


The 1948 1/3d Hereford Bull is uncommon used on cover where it is mostly found as a make-up denomination for overseas airmail and domestic registered mail. It is very scarce indeed used for Parcel post, the primary purpose for its issue. Figure 4 is the only example I have seen of this primary use, on a label which was once affixed to a parcel containing a ‘Gladmore hat’. The rate was 1/3d for a 1lb parcel to an adjoining State. This was the ‘Scale 3’ rate for Adjoining States. However, the article was sent 24 Oct 1950 (well in time for “Betsy Jane” to wear to The Melbourne Cup) from Bourke St East (Melbourne) to Echuca, which should have been ‘Scale 2’, being within State but beyond 30 miles, for which the rate was 1/-. It appears that Echuca, which is on the Murray River, was close enough to the border by Post Office standards to qualify for the ‘Adjoining States’ rate. I value 1/3d’s on cover for ACSC at $35 but this solo use is an excellent example of its type. Value : $75 (off ‘cover’ 50c).


             Figure 5.  Two ‘One Pound Jimmy’s’ are better than one


Figure 5 is a novel cover bearing both the 8½d and 2/6d Aborigine (so-called ‘One Pound Jimmy’, for Djungarai’s standard reply when asked his daily rate was ‘One Pound, Boss’), together with KGVI 1/0½d. None of these issues are easy to find on cover, and the 2/6d is particularly uncommon; it was primarily for parcels and telegrams. The article is by registered airmail 24 Jul 1952 Sydney to U.S. at a rate of 4/3d. This actually overpays (by 6d) the double airmail rate of 1/6d per ½oz. plus 9d registration fee. The airmail rate was to increase to 2/- the following week, which may have contributed to confusion with the Postal officer servicing the article. Value : $50 (stamps off cover $1).

    Figure 6. Worth $60, but check the fine detail before becoming too excited


Under Figure 1 we referred to the Concessional ½d newspaper rate for U.K. Forces in Australia. Concessions extended also to Liaison Staff in Australia and Figure 6 is a good example of the 3d airmail rate to U.K. then applicable (the regular airmail rate to U.K. was 1/6d), replete with appropriate informative handstamp, sent Melbourne to England on 2 Jun 1952. Do not confuse this solo use of the KGVI 3d green with common Printed matter usages of which I have seen (indeed have) hundreds. Value : $60 (off cover zero).


               Figure 7.  In to the bath with this grotty little number


Thomas Cook & Son in London at various times in history must have had a resident Philatelist or two on the staff, for I have seen many covers surviving intact addressed to the firm. Upon receipt of Figure 7 well may one have imagined a recipient making a statement such as the caption I have provided for this item. Fortunately, our Philatelic Guardian Angel at Cooks did not engage in such practice, and this highly franked article carried aboard the ill-fated BOAC Belfast, which crashed at Singapore on 13 Mar 1954 en route to U.K., remains intact. This high 36/- franking, which includes Arms £1 and 5/- pair, was for an airmail article originally weighing 17½-18ozs (ie 2/- per ½oz.). Coincidentally, I have a cover bearing Arms 10/- and £2 which also survived this air crash (see Stamp News November 2002), which completes the Arms set on ‘crash’ covers! Value : $400 (stamps off cover, well, in this condition not much).


           Figure 8.  1951 5½d Federation. Should be worth a hundred
                            used off cover in my opinion


The 1951 5½d Federation was issued primarily for the Foreign letter rate (FLR). The stamp was issued on 1 May 1951 and on 9 Jul 1951 the FLR increased from 5½d to 7½d, not providing much time in which the stamp could be used for its primary purpose. In fact, Figure 8, used 15 Jun 1951 from Newcastle to Norway, is the only use of this stamp for the FLR encountered. I’ve handled thousands of this stamp mint and used (off cover and on common FDC’s) but here’s the only solo franking for the primary purpose for which the stamp was issued that I’ve seen! As you may have gathered, I like it. Value : $200 (off cover 50c). If you think the valuation’s preposterous take a look at Figure 10.

Figure 9.  1951 Centenaries pair. Innocuous but rare


Figure 9 is what I regard as a good example of a rarity which would go unappreciated by all but a handful of philatelic aficionados so inclined. The Centenaries stamps were issued on 2 Jul 1951 for the 3d Letter rate, and it is very difficult to find a joined pair (the same applies for the other 1950-53 joined pairs) on a commercial cover. It’s most likely that if one was to make such a find it would be for the domestic Airmail rate, which was 6d per ½oz. However, given that the rate increased to 6½d on 9 Jul 1951, just a week after these stamps were issued, that was always going to be a tall ask. Figure 9, used 3 Jul 1951 from Hobart to Melbourne, is the only example of the 6d Airmail rate utilising a Centenaries joined pair that I’ve found. Truly a ‘little unsung hero’. Value : $75 (off cover 60c).

Figure 10.  A Philatelic ‘New Age’ item triumphs yet again


The 1952 KGVI 4½d scarlet as a solo franking and its scarcity as such has been featured in this column previously. It was issued primarily for the Foreign postcard rate, although its use for that purpose appears to have been very limited. About seven examples have ‘turned up’ thus far, one of which (Figure 10) was recently offered on eBay (by a North American vendor to whom in the ’nineties I had telegraphed the significance of such an item!). This 16 Dec 1952 use from Melbourne to U.S. realised US$326, but to me the more interesting statistic was that there were seven (repeat, seven) individual bidders participating for this item at above the US$200 level. I was one of them (at US$275 – I still don’t have an example of this usage!) and I’m encouraged, indeed delighted, to note that more and more collectors are coming to appreciate the importance of including in their collections examples of usage on cover/card of those stamps they collect.


On reflection, I appreciate that if you prefer your stamps ‘squeaky clean’ (‘sterile’ as I irreverently prefer to put it) direct from a Post Office, this column probably wont have the slightest interest for you. If, however, you have the inclination and patience to learn more about the type of material that ‘turns on’ fastlane Philatelists (and hopefully aspire to become one of them), then you may recognise that this column could have something in it for you.


Fred Johnson, author of More Riches from Real Estate and at one time one of Australia’s richest men, wrote in the ’seventies words to the effect that of every one hundred people who buy his book he doubted that even one would act upon his recommendations. When I write this column I often think to myself Fred was an optimist. If even one in one thousand of the readers of this column acted upon my recommendations, and I accept that I am deluding myself as to the number of readers, then that would be a success rate beyond my wildest expectations!


Just as this column was about to be despatched to Stamp News Mr Harold Sheath, of country Victoria, kindly provided me with the rate information for Figure 4 in last month’s column (1949 56/4d cover from U.K. to Hong Kong). The rate translates as 56 times 1/- per ½oz. for an article weighing 27½-28ozs. plus 4d registration (which I had conveniently overlooked – demonstrating how easy such an oversight can be). Thank you Harold for responding to my tardiness and for being my ‘1 in 1000’ reader for the month!


My best wishes to readers for a safe and happy Festive Season.

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.