Stamp News June 2003
Cover + Postal history = increased character and value
This issue I have introduced the impact of 'Postal history', the term given to the study of postal markings applied and other factors relevant in the transmission of a given article of mail on its journey from point A to B via the postal system, to illustrate how this element can add character and value to a cover.
Figure 1: An "irregularly posted" Registered item!
Figure 1 shows the 1950 8½d Aborigine used 16 November 1950 for the combined letter rate and registration fee. This stamp was primarily intended for this purpose as well as combined letter rate and Express service fee, both uses requiring 2½d plus 6d special services fee = 8½d. Express service covers are scarce, and even use for registration is not easy as the stamp could be utilised for that purpose for only 3½ months when a rate increase rendered it largely useless.
The illustrated cover has a story to tell evidenced by the handstruck marking 'IRREGULARLY/ POSTED '. This marking was applied by Post office sorting staff to articles which were received under circumstances contrary to regular procedure. Registered mail must be handed in at a Post office counter in order that a receipt be issued to the sender and handling thereafter by Post office staff conforms to the strict procedures required for registered mail. It would appear on this occasion that the sender has incorrectly posted the article in a pillar box and a diligent sorter has detected the anomaly, either by observing the red crossed lines required for registration service, or if these where not then present the relevant 8½d franking affixed. Post office procedure in such cases was to apply the handstruck marking and complete registered mail procedures at the Bulk postage counter, where the registration label was attached and from where the article would recommence its journey. This stamp on a regular registered cover would be valued at $25. With the added postal marking the value increases to $60 (stamp off cover 50c) .
Figure 2: Not irregular but insufficient!
Figure 2 illustrates another registered mail misadventure. This 8 December 1956 cover is correctly franked for the 7d airmail rate but the Postmaster at Hilton (S.A.), despite affixing a registration label, has omitted to add the additional 9d required for the registration fee. The deficiency was detected at Adelaide where the handstamped 'INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE DOCKET/ ISSUED AT ADELAIDE ' was applied. This is an uncommon marking used when a debit docket is made out to the Postmaster at an offending Post office of despatch, and increases the value of an otherwise $10 cover to $50 (stamps off cover zero!).
Figure 3: A double deficiency penalty!
Figure 3 illustrates another deficient postage article. This 31 July 1957 airmail cover from Coonamble (N.S.W.) to The Australian Stamp Monthly (now incorporated within Stamp News) in Melbourne bears only 4d letter rate franking rather than the required 7d for airmail service. The pair of 2d Queen Mother is the coil perforation which is scarce on cover, however such philatelic niceties are irrelevant to the Post office and the article received the handstamped ' T ' (tax) marking, with the appropriate '6' in manuscipt representing the underpaid 3d and a fine of 3d, the double deficiency penalty then in place. A Postage due 6d was affixed at Melbourne G.P.O. formalising the procedure. Value of $40 for coil pair on cover increases to $100 with tax marking and Postage due (stamps off cover $6).
Figure 4: Missent to Albert Park!
Figure 4 illustrates a scarce and desirable handstruck marking. This 2 July 1934 registered cover from Newcastle bears the Victoria Centenary 2d and 3d and although this was day of issue for these stamps this would not appear to be a deliberate FDC and the rate of 5d is correct for combined letter rate (2d) and registration fee (3d). The article is addressed to Albert Street, Melbourne, but has incorrectly been directed to Albert Park. The error has been detected at Albert Park P.O. where the ' MISSENT TO/ALBERT PARK ' has been applied and the article would then have been redirected back to Melbourne. A $40 cover has increased in value to $150 by the addition of this marking (stamps off cover $4 ).
Figure 5: A "Little Unsung Hero"!
Figure 5. No additional postal markings here but Postal history is expressed in the rate. The 1987 Technology achievements issue was notable not only for the striking 'hi-tech' designs but for the unconventional denominations, including the then unfamiliar 53c, 63c and 68c. Our subject item, 22 March 1988 use of the 63c to pay the airmail postcard rate to a Zone 5 country (Germany), is the first I have seen used for that purpose. This was an intended primary use for this denomination, as was the airmail rate for non-standard items within Australia, but the stamp appears to have seen relatively little commercial use. A modern item in the 'little unsung heroes' category. Value: $35 (off cover $1).
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.