Stamp News June 2005
Woodchip-free Zone A Selection of Pacific Explorer 2005 'finds'
Philatelic Exhibitions are great places in which to hone one’s skills in the noble pursuit of the ‘thrill of the chase’. Where else can scores of philatelic traders be located under the one roof, many with stock sourced abroad and available for inspection in Australia perhaps for the first time? Pacific Explorer 2005 provided such an opportunity, and I was delighted to be on the receiving side of the Trade stands for the four days of the Exhibition. Actually, an extra day or two duration would have been well received by those of us who found just four days a struggle in which to visit every Trade stand and do justice to the magnificent Exhibits on display.
It is a pity that more collectors did not take advantage of a visit to Pacific Explorer 2005 – the numbers were well down on expectations – for the Darling Harbour venue and superb weather alone would have justified the exercise, not to mention how much knowledge could be gleaned from studying how dedicated philatelists ply the art of exhibiting. I was on the prowl to add fresh additions to various collections under construction, and a few ‘finds’ I’ll share with readers this month.
Figure 1. Fijian KGVI 10/- finds a new home
Firstly, in the March 2005 column which featured usage on commercial cover of the Fijian KGVI pictorial series, I made specific mention that I had not seen the 10/- or £1 denominations from that series on a commercial postal item. Well, seek and ye shall find, and amongst the stock of an overseas Standholder I ‘found’ Figure 1. This is a 7 Oct 1954 use of the 10/- for registered airmail from Navua to U.K. The airmail rate was 2/6d per ½oz and 10/- would pay the quadruple rate (for an article weighing 1½-2ozs). The 6d required for registration has not been allowed for in this convenient rate assessment, therefore either it has been overlooked at the Post office or this is a philatelically motivated cover. The fact that it is a sheet corner stamp would appear to support the latter possibility, but in favour of it being otherwise should be cited the commercial size of the cover, collectors in 1954 (as now) usually preferred smaller covers, and the fact that the sealing flap on reverse has been crudely, rather non-philatelically sealed with adhesive tape, partly over which a Suva transit cancel has been applied. The KGVI 10/- had been replaced by a QEII design three months earlier, but a smaller Post office such as Navua might reasonably be expected to have residual stock of a low demand high value denomination for some time after its replacement by a new issue. The fact that this was use of the KGVI issue at a time when philatelists would perhaps be more interested in receiving a new issue does for me tip the balance slightly in favour of this not being a philatelically motivated item. Well, having now talked myself in to a more probable scenario, I will be pleased to add this item to our Fiji KGVI-era usage collection. Incidentally, for those who are interested in an interpretation of the format which a collection of commercial usage of a given stamp series might take, go to www.rap.com.au and select ‘Concept USAGE ’ from the menu at left. There will be found our developing Fiji collection. Valuation for Figure 1 : $250 (off cover $40).
Figure 2. The “Cyprus” green ½d commercially used
The final printing of the KGV ½d ‘green’ was in the highly distinctive ‘Very yellow (“Cyprus”) green’ shade listed in ACSC as 63I. The “Cyprus” was my contribution when I owned the catalogue and appears to have been accepted in to the philatelic vernacular (unlikely that the same will apply to my ‘Conce pt USAGE ’ buzz term above). So different was the shade that philatelists appear to have largely consumed the printing for posterity, with the consequence that it is very available mint but is very scarce, even rare, postally used. Simon Dunkerley and I can recall seeing perhaps half a dozen used examples between the two of us during the past 30+ years. Figure 2 is the first instance of a contemporary use of the printing on cover, or card as this is. Here we have use with 1d violet and 1½d green from Mosman (N.S.W.) to Italy for a combined rate of 3d, the Foreign letter rate, when in fact the article could have been sent at the 1½d Postcard rate. The date slug is askew, but is probably Nov 1923. This is an important item for a KGV specialist, of comparable rarity to, say, the rarer of the inverted watermark stamps which presently fetch five-figure sums at auction. I’ll be a little more conservative. Value : $1000 (stamps off cover about $50).
Figure 3. 7/6d Cook on cover. Found one at last!
A small band of we ‘usage’ aficionados have for many years (about 25 in my case) searched for the 1964 7/6d Cook commercially used on cover. Not to be confused with the stamp on FDC, which is relatively easy to find, a commercial use of the stamp on cover was beginning to look as if it may elude me, and Figure 3 almost did. As I thumbed through the extensive stock of covers of the overseas Trader from whom I bought this item, a collector known to me arrived at the Stand and requested the box containing pre-Decimal Australian covers. I had yet to peruse that particular box, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the subject cover appear as the collector waded through the box. Frankly I was amazed when he passed it by, particularly as the asking price was most agreeable, and I literally leapt on the box when he finished empty-handed from the exercise. I bought five other very useful covers (see also Figure 4) from that box and concluded that this collector must never have read my column. His loss, my gain. Figure 3 also includes the 10/- Navigator, cream paper, of which I have seen very few on cover. The total rate for this 18 Nov 1964 cover is 27/- which conveniently is 12 times the 2/3d airmail rate to Europe. However, the cover is registered so it should have been 29/-, and therefore either the 2/- registration fee was inadvertently overlooked by the servicing Postal clerk, or this item was overpaid (by 3d) for 11 times the 2/3d rate plus 2/- registration, ie 26/9d. What’s the cover worth? Let’s just say $500, for at that level at auction I know at least six hands (mine included) would be gyrating in the air. The used stamps off cover can be bought readily for around $12.
Figure 4. 10/- white paper Navigator, no slouch either on cover
From the same correspondence as Figure 3 comes the first 10/- Flinders, white paper, that I have noted on commercial cover. On this occasion the total franking for this 26 Oct 1965 cover is 33/6d, representing 14 times the 2/3d airmail rate plus 2/- registration fee. It is noteworthy that the high frankings in both Figures 3 and 4 did not utilise a £1 Navigator. Even larger Post offices such as Royal Exchange did not necessarily maintain a stock of the £1 and £2 denominations, so low was demand. I recall in 1965 doing a Post office ‘crawl’ for remnant stock of the £2 Arms, which had the previous year been replaced by the £2 King, and which was by then in short supply in Trader’s stocks. I did find a solitary £2 Arms in a larger Melbourne suburban P.O. and was told that it had been there for years. It remained there when I left for a clerk had carelessly deposited a biro mark on the stamp, probably during stock accounting. Value : $250 (stamps off cover $15).
Figure 5. These birds have come home to roost
Not from Pacific Explorer 2005, but rather a pleasant ‘find’ on eBay recently was Figure 5. This Papua New Guinea 12 Apr 1965 airmailed cover to Solomon Islands at 16 times the 1/- airmail rate I once owned but had parted company with in the early ’nineties. The 10/- Bird is rare on commercial cover and I had in the interim come to regret having sold this item. I was pleased to welcome it back (from Germany!) and will not be in too great a rush to allow these birds to again fly the roost. Incidentally, the only pre-Decimal PNG stamps which I have yet to see commercially used on a postal article are the 10/- Rabaul and £1 QEII. Has any reader seen them? Value of Figure 5 (my approximate cost on eBay) : $200 (off cover $10 - for complete Birds set).
Figure 6. Sexism 1950s style – rendering a useless stamp useful
On a light-hearted note to finish this month, accordingly to my Brusden-White Queen Elizabeth II 1952 – 1966 catalogue the 1959 QEII 5d blue had a total issue of 2,245,189,921. Surely a contender for the most common stamp of Australia, aside from having a major error or variety how does one extract value from such a stamp? When it is on an interesting cover, of course. In the instance of Figure 6 one of the series of ground-breaking propaganda covers produced by the Queensland Govt in the 1950s to promote tourism, commerce and industry in that State. I particularly like this cheeky, blatantly sexist type for tourism as redemption for the otherwise moribund stamp affixed. Value : $20 (off cover zero).
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.