Stamp News March 2008
Just when you thought Kangaroos have had enough limelight since the "Arthur Gray" sale of February 2007, they rear their not so ugly heads yet again. The Mowbrays Australia sales of 1-2 February 2008, the first series under the new moniker for the auction house formerly known as Stanley Gibbons Australia, contained 40 lots indicated as "Ex Arthur Gray", amongst other Kangaroo offerings. On this occasion, the vendor was "Lionheart", owner of one of the most valuable Philatelic collections ever to be formed in this part of the world. Curiosity often gets the better of me, and I couldn't resist indulging in some comparisons of sales results between the "Gray" and "Lionheart" offerings. This was, after all, the first significant "secondary" offering of Gray material to reach the open market.
Of the 40 "ex Gray" items so-labelled (Arthur tells me there were others not indicated), 20 found a new home. Ignoring buyer's premiums in these comparisons, the 20 sold lots had an aggregate hammer-price in the Gray sale of US$43,375, or A$55,609 (at sale time of 22-23 February 2007). The aggregate hammer-price for these same 20 lots in "Lionheart" was $53,530. A comparable sale outcome, some might argue. Others, less charitable, may sight the 50% only sales rate, and almost 12 months time lapse between the offerings, for a lower result, as an indication that the market is correcting, in stockmarket-speak. In the December 2007 edition of this column I commented "Would Arthur Gray have sold his great Kangaroo collection if he believed the current top of the market for traditional material had not been reached?". No prize for guessing which school of thought I subscribe to in this debate!
Figure 1. Ex "Lionheart". So near and yet so far
During my career I have not encountered a Kangaroo £1 bicolour on a commercial postal "entire". This is the only Australian stamp on a "face different" basis that I've yet to locate in that form. Figure 1 was Lot 70 in "Lionheart" (not ex-Gray), described as a "parcel tag". It didn't appear to be such an object from the catalogue illustration, but I was quite excited to investigate. Upon inspection, I found the subject to be even more attractive than the illustration promised, but sadly it was a "fragment" of a larger article, a "piece" rather than a "parcel tag". Were it the latter, and one could positively identify the composition of the rate (this can be possible even without an indicated destination), I was set to flex some Philatelic muscle and go for this item. However, there is a dilemma a specialist in "entires" is faced with in a situation such as this. One cannot be assured that the "piece" contains all of the original franking which was present at the outset. So subtle an omission of information, yet renders it difficult to justify the inclusion of this wonderful item in a Kangaroo usage collection. It belongs more suitably in a more general Kangaroo collection, where I would suggest it deserves a very prominent place! Estimated at $2000, it went on to realise $3000 (excluding buyer's premium). Not a lot of money for so attractive and rare an item, I suggest. The catalogue mentioned "indistinguishable date", but I'm reasonably confident I got "30 SE 21" out of the Registered Brisbane datestamp.
Figure 2. Fair to say the "wow" factor is present!
Still on Kangaroos, in the February 2008 column, I featured a Bulk Postage Docket bearing a £2 Kangaroo, amongst other issues. I thought this an impressive "entire", but I've been well and truly trumped! In response to my article, Nina Dowden kindly sent me a scan of an item, shown as Figure 2. Coincidentally, at the same time, the item's owner, that fortunate owner, also sent me a scan. I haven't provided a name as I don't wish for the owner to be inconvenienced by an avalanche of offers!
This 1940 use of a Bulk Postage Docket, bearing not less than 13 (!!) £2's, and a solitary £1, for a total £27 bulk postage, was for 3,240 articles at 2d per article (= £27 precisely).
Figure 3. eBay produces yet another "little gem"
To finish on a non-Kangaroo note, Figure 3 recently emerged on eBay, that compulsive medium for truly incurable Philatelists. I've seen very few commercial usages of the QEII 5d green from the uncut booklet sheets. True, these sheets were on sale at philatelic sales points only, so usage for postal purposes was always going to be minimal. Then, as now, more Philatelists preferred their stamps mint to those same stamps used commercially on cover. I've seen two of the imperforate between pair format used on formular aerogrammes, for the 10d rate applicable to such usage. These were as commercial as one could hope for, given that any usage would have a Philatelist involved to some degree. Figure 3 is particularly unusual in that it bears a block of nine of the booklet stamps, in an optimal configuration which encompasses the best of the "imperforate" formats, namely imperf. at side (at left x3), imperf. between (x3), and "imperf." (sort of) at base. A component in an aggregate 6/6d postage on a 24 September 1964 registered airmail cover, Wollongong to U.K., which comprised 4/6d airmail (2/3d per ½oz. x2) plus 2/- registration fee. A "little gem", indeed.
Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962. 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.