Stamp News May 2008
Philately of Epic Proportions
Great Britain. A stroll down Nostalgia Lane.
Nostalgia plays an important role in my Philately. I have fold memories of that day back in the 'fifties, when I received as a present a packet of 5,000 Different World. I had wished for the 10,000 packet, but then as now my expectations were always too lofty. The images of many of those stamps I sorted that day are still vivid in my mind, and it's a delight to revisit them when I find the same stamps used on the commercial covers I handle. In this vein, our subject item this month has been selected for it's "nostalgic" rather than "epic" attributes. "Epic" in proportions, perhaps, but well short of a record aggregate franking, to which this column is largely dedicated. That distinction to date for Great Britain rests with the subject of the inaugural edition of the column, back in April 2007, when an article franked at a remarkable £20/5/0d was featured. The subject below, a 9 August 1952 airmailed cover ("front" actually, the reverse has been removed) from London to a Bank in Melbourne, is franked with the 1951 High Values set of four, with accompaniments. The rate of £1/19/0d represented 1/6d per ½oz. airmail x26 = 39/- (or £1/19/0d). This item provides the very first example of this £1 denomination that I've seen on any kind of postal article. I've been looking for 20 years!
G.B. 1951 "Festival" High Values on "cover", the complete set no less.
To finally find an example of usage of the £1, and in "set' formation no less, is a personal triumph. This £1 issue was my very first stamp, given to me in 1955 by my grandfather, who had obtained it from a parcel received at his office. Effectively, it got me started in Philately. Just why this stamp is so scarce on postal articles I'm not sure I can explain. It was on sale for over four years, and 2.38 million were issued; a fair number. I have seen a reasonable number of large covers bearing multiples of the 10/- from this series. In what were rather austere times in Britain, perhaps the £1 was restricted in Post Office distribution? Perhaps it was sent only to those P.O.'s which were likely to need a £1 stamp (and multiples thereof) for parcels? Aside from London, P.O.'s in Industrialised cities. This would result in a low survival rate of intact postal articles (as occurred with "my" £1). Coincidentally, the subject item was discovered in the month of my sixtieth. Lovely! I could never have imagined all those years ago that Philately would be as stimulating to me at this age as it was in my childhood.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.