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 1½d 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 ½-1oz. 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 ½oz. 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 ½oz., 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 3½-4ozs.) + 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 ½oz. 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 ½oz. 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.