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Stamp News    December  2010 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 


Five suggested 'don'ts' and a 'do' for 2011.

2011 ought to be the year you resolve to achieve more, much more, in your Philatelic Life. Here follows a few suggestions which may assist some in achieving that end:

Don't remain transfixed by New Issues. Buy only those which will go up in value.
You will therefore be in for a very inactive year, which is a good thing. You will be freed up to pursue meaningful philatelic goals.

Don't remain obsessed with "filling gaps" in formulaic albums.
In so doing you reduce your collection to the lowest common denominator; destination mediocrity. Your collection will never be inspirational. How could a collection which is a clone of hundreds, perhaps thousands of others, ever inspire? Do Art collectors salivate over "limited edition" prints? No, they want the unique original. Fulfilling Philately knows no boundaries; the pleasure comes from exploring possibilities and interpreting them in your style.

Don't collect Kangaroo stamps in an attempt to be the next Arthur Gray.
Forming a notable collection requires timing, be it a collection of Kangaroos, or just about any other subject. The time to collect traditional Kangaroo-related material was in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Arthur Gray collection largely was formed. Now is the time to form a less traditional Kangaroo collection, one focused on usage of the series. However, if you wish to have your name associated with the next great collection of that kind, and weren't a serious participant in the 27 November 2010 "Kevin Nelson" sale, you will have missed a once in several decades opportunity to accelerate the launch of your Kangaroo usage collection. Whatever the collecting subject, it's all about timing.

Don't remain two-dimensional in your approach to Philately.
Dare to be different. A collection populated only by sterile mint and soulless used off cover stamps is, frankly, boring. I believe a major contributor to loss of interest in Philately is that too many of those who give up are not educated that there is much more stimulation inherent in Philately than garden-variety mint and used stamps can ever aspire to provide. Resolve to take the three-dimensional pathway: spice up your collection with a selection of essay/proof/specimen material (if you can afford to do so), and absolutely include examples of postal use, on covers/cards, and other postal articles, of the stamps for which you are passionate.

Don't accept that you can't form a collection of distinction.
It doesn't necessarily require a lot of money to form a best-of-kind collection. Rather, it requires an achievable goal, an informed knowledge of the subject, and dedication. You can be a philatelic hero. For starters, go to the useful and little known philatelic resource, albeit a work in progress, EXPONET Virtual International Philatelic Exhibition site ( If the biodiversity of developing ideas, and potential for spinoff interpretations doesn't begin to revitalise your philatelic passion, it's probably time to look for a new hobby. This brings me to the "do" suggested in the introduction.

Do resolve to form an exhibition collection, be it even a "virtual" exhibition collection.

One of the most fulfilling activities in my Philatelic Life is to mount up a coherent Usage exhibit sourced from a tub full of seemingly Lost Cause covers, etc. Let's say I commit to exhibit a one-frame usage study of Australia's 1966 Decimal Navigators for an Exhibition. (I have so committed). When the time comes to prepare the exhibit, I go to the "Navigators" tub (a modest unit, to be sure), select the subjects, research, mount and annotate in a 16-page configuration. With the technology available today, a "one-framer" generally can be completed in a day or two. The end result I liken to literally creating something out of thin air.

The "EXPONET" site, albeit somewhat European centric, will provide many ideas for one to eight frame (and beyond) collections. For a one-frame exhibit, and remember, it doesn't have to physically be exhibited - the goal is to set oneself an achievable goal - my suggestion this month, from a million possibilities, is a Usage study of Australia's first Air Mail stamp. The 1929 3d Air Mail was current for over nine years, from which period many interesting examples of usage can be located with a little dedication, and generally not much outlay.

Figure 1. Although designated an Air Mail stamp, the 1929 3d was valid for any postal purpose

There are a number of solo possibilities for the 3d Air Mail, which was a general rather than specific purpose stamp. Figure 1 is one of three separate solos featured, on this occasion paying the airmail component only for a 28 May 1931 cover Queensland to Victoria. The 2d letter rate has been overlooked by sender, and the Post Office, which should have taxed the item 4d (double the 2d deficiency). Valuation : $100 (off cover $4).

                              Figure 2. Tasmania a cost-effective State for airmail service

Tasmania from October 1937 was exempt from the 3d airmail surcharge applied in all other States (except Kangaroo Is. off S.A.!). Figure 2 is an 8 Dec 1937 rare solo from Tasmania to Victoria, 3d representing 2d combined letter and airmail rate + 1d Late fee. Valuation : $150 (off cover $4).

                        Figure 3. Type B stamps uncommon on cover, particularly solo

The ACSC recognizes four derivations of the 3d Air Mail stamp; Types A and B, and Booklet versions for both. I won't go in to those details here, other than to mention that usage of Type "B" is much scarcer than "A", and the Booklet plates are difficult to find, particularly "B's". This all adds to the interest this stamp issue can provide for a usage specialist. Figure 3 is a regular sheet version of a "B" used 23 May 1938 for surface mail to Germany. Valuation : $80 (off cover $10).

                            Figure 4. Nice airmail uprate of Stationery, utilizing a Type B

Another of the scarcer Type B is shown as Figure 4, this time as a specific uprate of a 2d on 1d Lettercard on 29 Jul 1931 for airmail Queensland to Victoria. Valuation : $75 (3d off cover $10).

                                  Figure 5. Booklet stamp uprate for domestic airmail

The Booklet plate stamps are scarce on cover, as alluded to above; Figure 5 is a Type A from a Booklet, paying the domestic airmail surcharge on a 6 Jul 1934 cover S.A. to W.A. Note late use of the quirky Colonial-era squared-circle datestamp of Aberdeen. Valuation : $120 (3d off cover $30).

                      Figure 6. To Sweden accelerated by domestic airmail service

Usages of the 3d to overseas destinations, particularly those other than U.K., add to the character of an exhibit. Figure 6 is a good example, an early use to Sweden on 21 Jun 1929, the 3d x2 paying -1oz. rate for domestic airmail service. The Melbourne Late Fee datestamp appears to have been used in error. Valuation : $100 (3d's off cover $8).

                             Figure 7. Equally at home in Rates or Usage collections

Mail to U.K. accelerated by both domestic and Karachi airmail services is uncommon, and sought after also by Rates and Routes specialists. Figure 7 is an 11d rate item sent 13 Jan 1931, where the 2d paid British Empire letter rate, and the 3d x3 the respective oz. airmail rates for domestic (3d) and Karachi (6d) services. A scarce and attractive example of then available total airmail "package". Valuation : $250 (3d's off cover $12).

            Figure 8.
Attractive and inexpensive regularly combine in the World of Covers

Figure 8 is a commercial article carried on board the 15 May 1931 return flight of Imperial Airways' second experimental air mail service to U.K. The rate was 1/11d for oz., and many in commerce took advantage of the 20 day delivery service this flight afforded. Attractive items such as this are sought after also by Aerophilately specialists, and are inexpensive for what they represent. Valuation : $80 (3d's off cover $28).

                                                Figure 9. Philately as Art contender

Another multi-faceted cover; Aerophilately, Postal History, Rates and Routes, Usage, take your pick. Figure 9 is a 30 Jun 1933 registered air mail Late fee cover to U.K., the 2/7d postage representing 2d per 4ozs. Merchandise rate + 2/- domestic airmail service (3d x8 for 3-4ozs.) + 3d registration fee + 2d Late fee (for a registered article) = 2/7d! The two strikes of Melbourne G.P.O. scarce "LATE/FEE" nicely finish off this valid Philately as Art contender. Valuation : $250 (3d's off cover $28).

                          Figure 10. 3d "OS" punctures rare on cover, this the Type B

The punctured "OS" 3d's, and they come in Types A and B for those who love a challenge, are really scarce, and very desirable on cover. Fortunately, unlike punctured stamps off cover, the on-cover stamps are unlikely to be faked. I've seen in total eight various covers bearing punctured stamps, and am satisfied that they bear genuine, Official punctures. Figure 10 is one of the few seen Type B punctures, an early 31 Dec 1929 NSW to Queensland Official cover, where the 3d uprates for domestic airmail service. Valuation : $600 (3d off cover $75).

So ends this introduction to the 1929 3d Air Mail as a subject for a Usage exhibit. On a different topic, there has been much hoo ha of late concerning the watermark variety of the 1952 2/6d Aborigine (watermark sideways inverted, ie top of crown faces right rather than left, as viewed from the front of the stamp!), reported initially in this magazine (October 2010 issue), and updated on the internet. The tally thus far is one mint, and now four used. Of interest to me is that I have yet to find the normal watermarked 2/6d as a solo franking on any postal article. Probably unsurprising when one considers that 2/6d was the airmail rate to B.W.I. and Central America during the life of the watermarked issue. Domestic Parcel use was another possibility. The best I've been able to come up with is a couple of rare unwatermarked solo uses, shown as Figures 11 and 12.

            Figure 11. 2/6d unwmkd. Aborigine rare solo on cover; wmkd. solo yet to be seen.

Figure 11 is a 5 Feb 1959 registered airmail solo use of unwmkd. 2/6d, Wahroonga to Hong Kong. The rate is represented as 1/3d oz. airmail + 1/3d registration fee. This and the item which follows I value at around $200 each.

                                            Figure 12. Rare usage, to exotic destination

Exotic destinations are a joy to behold in a usage collection, and Figure 12 is certainly that. This 16 Mar 1962 solo from Sydney pays oz. airmail to French Somaliland! These two are rare usage items, their significance clear to appreciate in an exhibit; significant examples of what they represent, and a delight to behold for their owner.

These 2/6d covers possess the compelling combination of rarity, visual appeal for an exhibit, and outstanding value for money. The mentioned watermark variety for this issue has but one of those three attributes. And, as more and more are discovered, of which there is a high probability, the rarity factor, the only thing this less than impressive variety has going for it, will diminish accordingly, along with the stratospheric price tag. A game of philatelic Russian roulette, indeed.

Witnessing such philatelic gay abandon reaffirms my unshakeable belief in commercial covers and their ilk, particularly 20th century material, for Australia and the World, as representative of the BEST VALUE FOR MONEY IN PHILATELY.

Best wishes to readers and cover aficionados for the coming Season. May 2011 see the Thrill of the Chase more exciting than ever.

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.