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 Stamp News January 2004

                              Woodchip-free Zone

Do yourself a favour in '04. Include covers and Stationery in your collection

An increasing number do include commercially used covers and Postal Stationery by way of adding spice to their collections.  Demonstrating the usage of stamps on cover introduces a new dimension to what might otherwise be a collection with diminished individuality.  Others collect Postal History (the advanced form of commercial cover collecting) and/or Postal Stationery exclusively.  For readers who are receptive to the concept of embracing covers/ stationery I have selected half a dozen collecting suggestions (accepting as I do that some readers would prefer half a dozen oysters natural) in which I see merit, and which need not send a collector 'broke'.  The subjects are Australian although the basics could be applied to a collection of many overseas countries.  Here are my collection suggestions in no particular sequence:

1. Slogan cancellations.  These have been in general use in Australia since late-1917 and continue to the present, with private advertising messages being a more recent development.  Some messages were adopted nationally (eg 'PREVENT BUSH FIRES' introduced in 1932) whilst others were for exclusive use by one State (or Territory) only. One could elect to collect the national 'definitive' types from any State/Territory (the lesser challenge) or by preferred State/Territory.  Many slogan cancels are scarce to rare but are not necessarily highly priced.  Indeed, those who enjoy fossicking through dealers' boxes and cartons in auctions will be off and away to forming a representative collection in no time. Figure 1 is a 1971 Melbourne use of the bilingual 'AUSTRALIA PRODUCES / EVERYTHING / UNDER THE SUN / PRODUITS DU SOLEIL / PRODUITS AUSTRALIENS'.  A number of variants on this theme were in use in four States from the 1950s to 1970s.  Seldom are slogans found this clear and complete and one will generally have to be content with more average examples. Value: $10.

                                                          Figure 1
2. Uprated Postal Stationery.  This occurs when a given article of Stationery is utilised for a postal service beyond that for which it was prepaid and intended (eg registered use of a basic letter rate article), or where a rate rise necessitates additional franking.  The added stamps can offen add colour to an otherwise bland item as in Figure 2 where a 36c PSE has been uprated by $1.20 (bonus of 1986 60c Christmas (x 2) which is uncommon stamp on commercial cover) in 1987 to accommodate its sending by Priority Paid mail, which usually facilitated overnight delivery to many major cities throughout Australia.  Value : $12.

                                                            Figure 2
3. Meter cancellations.   A favourite of mine and undeservedly unloved by most, these were introduced in Australia in 1927.  Initially rather mechanical in appearance some adventurous designs began to appear in the 1930s as user firms became more aware of the advertising possibilities delivered by meters.  Some who collect these endeavour to obtain an example of every individual meter installation (identifiable by a user number incorporated in the meter impression), a rather large challenge. Others might prefer to collect only pictorial types which appeal to that individual; perhaps designs of a particular theme, or by a specific user.  Figure 3 is one of many QANTAS pictorial or promotional meters produced in the 1950s and beyond, and is an example of literally thousands of subjects in which one could specialise in meters.  Most are very inexpensive (as for 'Slogans' above with similar sources for supply) although QANTAS material is a popular exception.  Value : $30.

                                                            Figure 3
4. Framas commercially used on cover.  Another comparatively unloved field but one brimming with scarcities for the philatelic sleuth.  I emphasise here that I am referring to commercial use during the period of issue of the respective frama stamps, and in the region of issue.  Of next to zero value (for me at least) is out-of-period use and use beyond region of issue (eg 'A23' cliché of Cairns used in N.S.W.), such as one sees prolifically on mail nowadays. When I conducted the research to enable me to price framas on cover for Brusden-White's Decimals II and III of the ACSC series, I reverted to our stock of commercially used framas on cover (about 15,000 of them) sourced from every State in order to provide a reasonably balanced overview of usage of the various cliché types.  Of many I found only one or two examples of use, and for some frama machine installations I could find no cover.  Fellow Auctioneer and Stamp News columnist, Graig Chappell, long an afficionado of framas, tells me that he also has not seen several frama types on commercial cover.  Figure 4 I have selected as an example of frama commercial use for no better reasons than it is a rather colourful use of two frama issues, one 'dialled-in' at 13c and the other at 14c (ie 27c for 37c letter rate), demonstrating the contrary accuracy of many frama installations, and finally for the slogan cancel, 'COLLECT AUSTRALIAN STAMPS' which some pundits would have that framas are not!  Value : $6.

                                                          Figure 4
5. Deficient postage markings.  An interesting field which comes about when the postage on a given article is underpaid.  Up until 1963 such articles usually had a Postage Due stamp affixed by the Post Office, and for some time later regular postage stamps were occasionally affixed.  Covers with such additional stamps are popular, but less so are those with handstamped markings only, such as the specific type for Monto (Qld) shown in Figure 5, the '22c' double deficiency tax applied due to a 22c stamp having been used during the 33c letter rate period.  One could collect the handstamped markings of a preferred State/ Territory, some towns and cities of which have quite individual or peculiar markings. Value : $10.

                                                                Figure 5
6. Advertising covers.  A more popular field, and one where I know that some collectors endeavour to obtain examples of to add lift to what might otherwise be a comparatively bland section of their collection, say for example the basic letter rate section.  Again, a dedicated collection of advertising covers could be drawn along preferred State/Territory lines, where a degree of nostalgia often occurs, particularly where one sees advertising from defunct firms which one might recall from younger days.  Advertising covers are usually found from as little as a few Dollars each for items of say the 1970s onwards, rising to $10+ for more interesting themes (automobiles for example) of the 1950s/1960s, to $100 or more for colourful covers of the 1920s/1940s.  Figure 6 is a good example of a 1949 advertisement for a movie, a popular theme.  Value : $50.

                                                               Figure 6
I hope that more readers discover the joy of collecting covers and Stationery in 2004 and resolve to take up that new challenge.  You will certainly be taking a step in the direction to 'Keep the Fun in Philately'.  Best wishes for the New Year.

Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962 and a regular Stamp News advertiser since the 1960s. 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.