Stamp News June/July 2002
Postal usage of particular stamps has a profound impact on the availability of covers – and that in turn influences their on-cover values – Rod Perry explains in his new column.
I have long been interested in why certain Australian stamps were issued and the manner in which they came to be used. This interest was aroused in my youth when Australia issued stamps of odd denomination for that time such as Zoological/Floral 11d, 1/2d and 2/5d, values not issued previously by Australia, and at a time when one was accustomed to more ‘rounded’ figures. Learning that these denominations were issued primarily to service the combined letter rate/certified fee, postcard airmail rate to UK/Europe, and the combined letter rate/registration fee, respectively, satisfied my initial curiosity.
Similarly, in more modern times some may have been puzzled by the 1987 Technology issue with its odd 53c, 63c and 68c values along with the basic letter rate 37c. These values were primarily intended for non-standard articles.
The 1966 3c Coil
The primary use for this stamp, when issued, was to add to its companion 4c coil to make up the 7c 2nd weight step for letters within Australia and the British Commonwealth.
In practice, the stamp was almost exclusively consumed by the philatelic community for speculation or use to fellow collectors after withdrawal of the stamp. This 11.03.1966 use, with the 4c, 40c Tasman and 13c Avocet, for franking of 60c (airmail rate to Canada 20c x 2–double rate – plus 20c registration fee = 60c) is unusual. Value: $60.
During the decade (1992 – 2002) in which I was proprietor of The Australian Commonwealth Specialists’ Catalogue, the Editor, Geoff Kellow, introduced to the catalogue details on the primary use (or uses) for every stamp issued by Australia. The research which this entailed was the first step towards evaluating the relative scarcity or otherwise of a given stamp on original cover in order that we could provide a dedicated column giving market valuations for stamps on cover, postally used during period of issue. Volumes have been written on the stamps of Australia, but little published research has appeared on the postal usage of the stamps, which after all is the purpose for issuing stamps in the first instance (apart from marketing to philatelists!).
1966 30c Ibis
Primary use of the 1966 30c Ibis when issued was for Scale 3 parcel rate within Australia for which use survival rate is low (I am yet to see an example). The principal use I have recorded for this stamp is around October 1968, when the combined letter rate/registration fee increased from 25c to 30c. This 28.05.1968 single use to Indonesia is for combined Zone 2 airmail (10c) and registration (20c) is exceptional and the unclaimed, return-to-sender markings add to its character. Value: $50.
Most basic Australian stamps are comparatively easy to obtain mint or used, but many of the same stamps may be difficult to very scarce, postally used, in period, on cover. Stamps used on cover in the manner I refer to should not be confused with First Day and Souvenir/Commemorative covers, or other philatelically contrived items such as stamps used out of period, as are commonly concocted nowadays. Worldwide, there is a steadily growing interest in collecting stamps postally used on cover – and for the philatelist seeking a new challenge I highly recommend the ‘thrill of the chase’ which such collecting delivers.
Over the years I have derived great delight in forming a reference collection of Australian stamps postally used on cover in a multitude of configurations of usage such as single, double and combination frankings. Many stamp issues served more than a single primary purpose (the 1986 65c Stingaree had nine usages!) and I attempt to show an example of every type of use. The pursuit of a philatelic masochist indeed!
1986 3c Alpine Wildflower
This denomination was issued to assist in raising the face value of the booklets, which contained this series to 80c and $1 for more convenient distribution, by vending machines. The only practical use for this denomination was for make-up purposes. This and the other sub base rate stamps (the 5c and 25c) actually were very little used, more often being discarded be the general public. The 02.09.1987 use of the 3c either inadvertently or by design by the sender, as a single franking for the 36c letter rate, should have been taxed by the Post Office at 78c (representing a 33c postage deficiency plus a fine of 45c). German collectors love sub base rate single frankings. Value: $35.
The mission of this column is to persuade more philatelists to include examples of stamps postally used on cover in their collections, be they Australian stamps or otherwise, thereby adding greater diversity, interest and individuality to their collections.
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.