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 Stamp News  January 2005

                              Woodchip-free Zone

The "Florin and treybit" Commems of the Sixties

Better known perhaps as the ‘two and threes’, the six 2/3d commemorative stamps issued between 1962 and 1965 were immediate ‘glamour’ items amongst collectors. They have always been difficult to acquire used in quantity, and I recall in the late ’sixties (when I was a wholesaler) soaking many off FDC’s to assist in fulfilling orders from the Trade. The fact is these stamps saw relatively little commercial use for postal purposes. The majority were bought by the philatelic community in the hope of making a speculative ‘killing’. A few did as we will see later.

The 2/3d’s  were primarily issued for the ½oz  airmail rate to U.K. and Europe, and the small number of commercial covers I have seen largely serviced that purpose. I say ‘small number’ for in some 15 years of maintaining a database I have seen between four and eight commercial covers only of the respective six stamp issues. These figures compare with many thousands seen of each of the same stamps in mint condition, and many hundreds on FDC’s. When I completed the pricing for 2/3d’s on commercial cover for Brusden-White’s QEII 1952-1966 catalogue in 1996 I valued the six issues at an average of $37.50. Given their scarcity  however, and the fact that there are now many more collectors of such material than there were nine years ago, I have made a review of  my suggested valuations for 2/3d’s on commercial cover the subject of this month’s column.

Figure 1.  1962 2/3d Perth Games

 This 14 Mar 1963 use for airmail rate to U.K. is attractively completed  by a nice strike of the commemorative Royal Visit slogan cancel then in use for the second visit to Australia by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Value : $75 (off cover $3).

Figure 2.  1963 2/3d Royal Visit

A more worthy addressee for the Royal Visit stamp is impossible! Here we have a loyal subject of Her Royal Highness who has sent her an example of the 2/3d (plus a garden variety – excuse pun – 2/- Flannel flower for registration) posted from Islington (N.S.W.) on 8 Mar 1963. The Royal Household must have from time to time disposed of what would obviously have been, at one point in time at least, a huge incoming mail. I assume most such articles were from time to time sold by auction, with the proceeds going to charity? Whatever the reason for it being in private hands I am happy to be the present owner of an ‘ex Royal Collection’ item! A good example of why a used stamp off cover often misses out on the ‘action’. Value : $100 - a 25% premium included for the addressee - (stamps off cover $3.20).

Figure 3.  1963 2/3d Commonwealth Cable

 This in my experience is one of the more difficult to find of the 2/3d’s on commercial cover. This 17 Jan 1964 use of an illustrated airmail cover to Poland is a good example of the genre, replete with slogan cancel warning ‘Keep Australia clean – by plant quarantine’! Value : $90 (off cover $3).

                    Figure 4.  1964 2/3d Air Mail

Multiple use of a 2/3d commemorative is very unusual and this 1964 (rest of date illegible) use of a pair for an article weighing between ½ and 1oz sent airmail to France is a desirable item. Value : $100 – a solo franking would be $80 - (stamps off  cover $6).

                    Figure 5.  1965 2/3d ANZAC

This issue I have found the most difficult on commercial cover of the six 2/3d’s; I have seen only four covers. The earlier 2/3d’s mint and used had by 1965 increased in market value, and the ‘punters’ were not about to let the general public get their hands on too many of the 935,440 issued of this stamp. As a consequence the stamp saw very little postal use, and this 6 May 1965 to London, again for the airmail mail, fulfills all that one could reasonably expect of  an example of use of the stamp on a commercial article. Value : $100 (off cover $3).

Figure 6.  1965 2/3d I.C.Y.

Given that most usages seen of the 2/3d’s on commercial cover have been for the airmail rate to U.K. and Europe, this 26 Nov 1965 use as a component in the registered domestic letter rate is an odd one out. The total franking of 2/8d represents second weight step for letter rate (8d) plus 2/- registration fee. Value $100 (stamps off cover $2.20).

 During the late ’seventies, early ’eighties boom the 2/3d commemoratives came in for more than their fair share of attention from the ‘punters’. As I alluded to earlier, a few (make that very few) did enjoy a ‘killing’ in the speculative frenzy which engulfed all who engaged in the madness which was the ‘Great Boom’. I vividly recall sitting through the Harmers of Sydney auction of 8 February 1980 and witnessing Lot 518 – 1965 ANZAC set in mint sheets of 80 – estimated at $480 sell in the room for $2300. With buyer’s premium this equates to over $31 per set. If one was to apply to that figure the increase in the Australian eastern states housing index during the period since elapsed the ANZAC set would today be expected to be worth $217. In fact it is worth but a few dollars. In mint condition there always was and always will be a far greater quantity of sets available than genuine collector demand could ever consume. My tip? Join the ‘thrill of the chase’ and see if you can find nice use of a 2/3d on commercial cover. They will turn up in Europe, albeit in numbers too small to satisfy emerging demand, and if you are lucky enough to find one it will probably cost you somewhat less than the valuations indicated above. Such is the joy of ‘getting in early’!

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.