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Stamp News    September  2007

                              Philately of Epic Proportions 

From Canada, with political flavour

Considering Canada and Australia are fellow members of the British Commonwealth Fraternity, one sees surprisingly little correspondence between the two Nations, particularly pre-WWII. In searching my records for the highest franked postal article from Canada to Australasia, pre or during wartime, I was a little disappointed to find nothing greater than a triple rate item.

Our subject item was carried by "China Clipper", those famous and rather romantic Flying Boats, which plied air and sea for too few years prior to, and during the War, but produced many very highly franked Philatelic items. Not surprising perhaps, considering the postal rates for the service were far greater than those of other airmail services.

The airmail rate from Canada to Australia via London pre-war was 36c per ½oz., compared with 90c for the Clipper service via Hong Kong. Our subject cover, sent from Toronto to Canberra on 17 Jan 1939, with postage rated at $2.70, was for an article which would have weighed 1-1½oz.; a triple rate item (90c per ½oz. x 3 = $2.70). The backstampings tell us that the article was received at Hong Kong 28 Jan and Sydney 7 Feb, a journey lasting three weeks, which was not fast. The use in the franking composition of a pair of the $1 stamp, an uncommon stamp on cover, perhaps comparable in that regard to Australia's 10/- Robes of the same era, makes this an attractive item. So does the sender and addressee!

The article originated at Canada's Office of the Prime Minister, addressed to Hon. Mitchell F. Hepburn, c-o Right Hon. J. A. Lyons. Hepburn, at 38, was Canada's youngest ever Premier (1934-42), noted also for having made pasteurisation of milk compulsory! Lyons, of course, was then Australia's Prime Minister (1932-39). I am unable to ascertain what Hepburn was doing in Australia during his visit. Perhaps his trip was an early precursor to the now popular "fact-finding missions" indulged in so willingly, and selflessly, by our politicians.

I'll be unsurprised if a reader can show me a more highly franked item of Canada to Australasia, and would welcome details and a scan. Bring it on!

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