Stamp News May 2007
Philately of Epic Proportions
Philately as Art from the US, Rambo-style!
The objective of this column, as I indicated in the inaugural issue last month, is to feature highly franked, commercially used postal articles of the world, with the common denominator that they be destined for Australasia.
This month the United States is the donor country of the subject item, which it will be seen is yet another example of why 'Covers of Epic Proportions' would have been too limiting a title for this column.
1954 parcel-wrapping portion to N.Z. franked with attitude
Our subject, to be sure, is a rather colourful item, sympathetically excised from the address side of a parcel so as to conveniently inform us of all we need to know Philatelically. Not often we are so fortunate. The parcel originated at the establishment of W.H. Rambo (destined to be ribbed monotonously a few decades later), Industrial Plant Engineer, and contained 'Technical Printed Matter'. The Customs label informs us of this fact, together with the article's weight, '3 5½oz' (for 3 pounds 5½ ounces). The article left Portland, Oregon, 17 Jun 1954 by airmail, destined for New Zealand.
Other endorsements repeat the weight, refer to an export license not being required (presumably as the contents were printed matter only), and give the postage rate ('26.75'). These markings may have been placed by the sender's shipping dept. The airmail rate to N.Z. (and Australia) was then 25c per ½oz. It had reduced from 70c per ½oz. shortly after the end of the War (wouldn't we have had an absolutely stupendous franking if that rate had remained constant until 1954!). At $26.75, or 107 times the basic airmail rate, this is the highest franked '25c period' item to Australasia from the U.S. that I've noted. Has anyone a higher franking? I'd be delighted to receive details of such, and any highly franked postal articles of the World to Australasia for that matter.
The composition of the franking is noteworthy, and we are again fortunate in that a meter franking was not used. Not that such a franking wouldn't still be a significant item; it just wouldn't be as pretty! Here we have no less than three stamps which are uncommon to very scarce on cover, particularly in blocks (!). The 80c 'Hawaii' is seldom encountered on cover; a well-known U.S. cover specialist, whose website I regularly monitor, 'never' has this stamp on cover in any form. The 24c Harrison and $5 Coolidge are from the ever-popular 1938 Presidential series, better known as 'Prexies'. I have featured a couple of items from the series in my 'Woodchip-free' column, when usage of a particular type has rendered quite considerable value to otherwise virtually worthless used stamps (in their off-cover form). It's not unusual to witness on eBay, for example, stamps of this series, worth only a few cents used, realising many hundreds of Dollars on cover or other postal article.
The 24c is hard-to-find on cover, but the $5 is scarce indeed. Prior to a large hoard of parcel tags bearing the stamp appearing on the market, as late as the 1990s, this was an 'impossible' stamp to locate on postal article; probably comparable in its scarcity to our £2 Arms, a contemporary highest denomination. A block of four is truly a delight. Don't fall in to the 'But it wont fit on my album page' mindset. Get a double-page (they're legal in an exhibit) and begin to enjoy the thrill of ownership of 'Philately of Epic Proportions'.
Rod Perry's other column, Woodchip-free Zone, appears in Stamp News. Rod invites owners of highly franked covers of the world to send scans of their items to him at email@example.com.