Stamp News June 2006
Woodchip-free Zone PNG. Usage of the Early Photogravure Issues
I struggled to come up with a topic this month. Struck by a rare moment of writer’s block I wrote this column only on the morning of absolute copy deadline. It’ll probably show. Fortunately, Geoff Kellow inadvertently came to the rescue when he asked me had I ever encountered commercial usage of the PNG Canoe Prow series of 1965. Until I checked for Geoff I hadn’t appreciated just how scarce on commercial cover are the four stamps in that series. I haven’t an example of the 1/2d denomination, and but one or two of the 4d, 1/6d and 4/-, to provide an indication of just how scarce is usage of these stamps. A worthy subject for the column thought I, and to build content why not include a few contemporary other photogravure printed issues.
Pausing for a moment, this is probably a good opportunity to invite readers to make suggestions as to what they would like me to feature in this column. Send your suggestion to me at email@example.com and I’ll be pleased to consider it. Possibly you can give rise to the subject for a future article, and in so doing perhaps overcome for me another bout of the dreaded writer’s block.
Figure 1. German Missionaries we have to thank for many nice PNG covers
I have seen only two examples of commercial use of the Harrison & Sons of London printed 2/3d Legislative Council. The example in Figure 1 was found on the website of a German dealer. Logical when one considers it is from a German Missionary at Kaliai Catholic Mission (New Britain) to an addressee in Germany. A nice 17 Jul 1961 solo use it is too, cancelled at the larger Post Office at Kokopo, paying the 2/3d ½oz airmail rate. The advent of capability for trawling on the internet for interesting items is surely the most amazing innovation in the history of Philately. Frankly, I’m astounded that more Philatelists don’t take advantage of this medium for building diversity in their collections. The world truly is an oyster for internet aficionados. Value : $150 (off cover $10).
Figure 2. Commonwealth Games 5d se-tenant pairs used on cover no doubt on most ‘want lists’
I have previously acknowledged the Lawson company of Honiara, Solomon Islands, as the principal source for most of the scarcer PNG covers I’ve seen. This correspondence came in to the hands of noted Philatelist, the late Bob Taylor of Sydney, in the 1960s and I acquired it in the early 1990s, following Bob’s passing. An indication of how important this holding is can be gauged from no less than six of the ten subjects in this article having originated from the Lawson source. Photogravure printing now by Courvoisier of Switzerland, the 1962 Commonwealth Games 5d is reasonably available as a solo franking for internal Letter rate or airmail to Australia. Se-tenant pairs are something else, and Figure 2 provides a very scarce instance of commercial use, together with the contemporary 1d in a pair, to satisfy the 1/- ½oz airmail rate to Solomons. Sent from Port Moresby on 11 Dec 1962. Try finding commercial use of a se-tenant pair in a hurry! Value : $100 (stamps off cover $2).
Figure 3. Nice stamp to have for a Stationery uprate
The 2/3d from the Commonwealth Games issue is, not unlike the 2/3d of the Legislative Council issue of Figure 1, very scarce on commercial cover. Figure 3 is actually the only example I’ve seen, a 24 Oct 1962 uprate of the 5d Stationery envelope for 8d 2nd weight step (1oz+) airmail plus 2/- registration fee. The article was sent from Goroka to Guy Round in Toorak, Melbourne, who coincidentally was featured in Ken Lewis’ ‘Singapore to Korea’ article in the April issue of Stamp News. Value : $125 (off ‘cover’ $2).
Figure 4. The uniquely PNG designs of the Native Artifacts series
I recall in 1964, when the Native Artifacts series was issued, Philatelists were divided in their opinions of the designs, so ground-breaking was the departure from a more design-conservative era formally in place for Australia and Territories. The designs are after all but a reflection of indigenous art, and the vibrant colours I find most agreeable, particularly when found on cover. All four in the series are rather scarce/very scarce on commercial cover, and given their higher denominations typically are encountered on oversize articles. Figure 4 is a neat make-up use for the 11d, together with contemporary 1d, for the 1/- ½oz airmail rate to our friends in Solomons, sent 10 Dec 1964 from Moresby. Value : $60 (stamps off cover 50c).
Figure 5. 2/5d logical solo franking for combined letter rate/registration
Figure 5 provides a good example of use for the primary purpose of issue for the Native Artifacts 2/5d, for combined 5d Letter rate plus 2/- registration fee. This 23 Dec 1964 use was from Moresby to an indigenous Sergeant at the Wewak Police Station. Value $80 (off cover 75c).
Figure 6. Big is often the only way to go to obtain higher denominations on cover
Figure 6 gives us pairs of the Native Artifacts 2/6d and the Canoe Prows 1/6d for a 24 Jul 1965 make-up for the 8/- airmail rate (3½-4oz) Moresby to Solomons. These are the only 1/6d’s I’ve seen on commercial cover. Figures 6, 7 and 10 provide good examples of why larger covers are often necessary to include if one seeks to show comprehensive commercial use in a collection. Value : $100 (stamps off cover $3).
Figure 7. Options for obtaining commercial use of Native Artifacts 5/- somewhat limited
Another ‘only example’ of usage I’ve seen, this time for the Native Artifacts 5/-, the pair and single with Birds 1/- shown in Figure 7. A rather costly 16/- representing 7½-8oz airmail rate on 6 Feb 1965 from Moresby to Solomons. Understand why I rate the Lawson correspondence so highly? Value : $200 (stamps off cover $3.50).
Figure 8. Slight error delivers the singular use I’ve encountered of a 2/3d Common Roll
The 2/3d of the Common Roll Elections duo might turn up used for the ½oz airmail rate to U.K./Europe. I haven’t seen one yet, and indeed Figure 8 is the only cover I’ve seen bearing the 2/3d, period. This solo use on 30 Jul 1964 from Moresby to Solomons appears to be an overpayment for the 2/- (½-1oz) airmail rate. I’m satisfied however that it’s a commercial use nonetheless, and I’d include it in a usage collection in the absence of an optimal example. Value : $60 (off cover $1).
Figure 9. Frank Hoeter I can thank for this, and happy memories
Philately is a wonderfully nostalgic hobby. In my forty-something years of commercial involvement I have already amassed several lifetimes of happy (mostly!) memories. Figure 9 provides yet another. This 21 Jan 1966 out-of-period use from Sydney of the 1960 N.T. Centenary 5d underpaid the 11d non-standard airmail rate. It probably contained a stamp auction catalogue; Box E179 St.James was the address for the now defunct Sydney Stamp Auctions. The article was taxed 1/- (double the 6d deficiency) upon arrival at Wewak and a 1/- Bird was affixed for the purpose of taxing. It is probable that the recipient, Sen. Insp. (later Superintendent) Frank Hoeter, would not have been asked to cough up the bob tax! Frank, a Philatelist of course, fortunately did retain the item intact for we subsequent Philatelists to enjoy. Which brings me to the nostalgy. Frank rang me in 1977 to say that he wanted to auction a portion of his collection, and when would I be in Hervey Bay (Qld) next? Days before that phone call I had taken delivery in Melbourne of a shiny new Porsche 911 Turbo, so of course I could advise a rather surprised Frank that I would be on his doorstep the day after tomorrow. Value : $75 (stamps off cover, not much)
Figure 10. Three times four equals twelve
Figure 10 is a rather delectable use of the Canoe Prows 4/-, three examples no less, for the 12/- (5½-6oz) airmail rate 10 Jul 1965 from Moresby to Solomons. I have only two items showing usage of the 4/-, and have noted two others (2/- ½oz airmail to U.S.). Scarce material indeed. Value : $150 (off cover $6).
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.