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Stamp News March 2003
                                                                         Woodchip-free Zone

Little unsung heroes of early QEII reign

This issue we will focus on some relatively modest stamps of the early years of QEII’s reign. Stamps which were it not for their being on cover could fairly be rated as seemingly ‘ordinary’. Certainly mint or used off cover they present no challenge to a collector.  I will endeavour to explain however why I regard these items correctly used on commercial covers to be far from ordinary. Rather, I rate them in a category which I like to call ‘little unsung heroes’. 

                                                                                       Figure 1

            Figure 1  shows the 1953 3d Produce Food in strip of three format together with contemporary ½d and 3½d’s.  The 3d was intended for postcards within Australia and the Empire (a very scarce usage), for commercial papers or printed matter rate, newspaper/ magazine rate overseas, airmail fee within Australia, and Forces’ abroad airmail letter rate (occasionally seen used from Korea).  A strip of three is not necessary for any of these potential uses (other than perhaps as a three-times multiple of the airmail fee) and its use therefore can be expected most likely to be one of chance.  This 7 Nov 1953 registered use to U.S. from Victoria Park East (W.A.) comprises use of the 3d strip for the 9d registration fee, the balance of 7½d in franking being for the Foreign letter rate.  Value : $60.


                                                                                             Figure 2

            Single usage of a given stamp for the specific purpose for which the stamp was issued is always desirable and justifiably sought-after by specialists.  Although issued specifically for combined basic letter rate (4d) and certified mail fee (6d) the 1957 QEII 10d is most often found used as a make-up stamp.  One usually finds it combined with the 1/7d of the series (or the 1/7d Registered stationery envelope) to accomodate the 1959 rate increase to 2/5d of the combined letter rate/registration fee. Figure 2 shows a 29 Jun 1959 scarce specific certified use within suburban Melbourne.  The Post Office endorsements at left indicate that the addressee was not initially available for the required signature.  Value : $35.


                                                                                                Figure 3

            The 1956 1/- Olympic Games was primarily intended for the parcel (Scale 1) and airmail to Malaya/Singapore rates, usages which are quite scarce.  Figure 3 shows the 1/- and definitive 4d used 2 Apr 1957 for unusual combined registration fee (1/3d) and Forces concessional letter rate (1d) from Laverton R.A.A.F. P.O. (Vic).  Value : $40.


                                                                                                      Figure  4

The 1954 Royal Visit 7½d was issued specifically for the Foreign letter rate and is very scarce so used, and indeed the stamp on cover is difficult to find in any form.  The 15 Feb 1954 usage from Hobart (Figure 4) together with 3½d of the same series and late use of the 1d Princess was for the 1/- airmail rate to Malaya mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Value : $30.


                                                                                                 Figure 5

            Philately registers high on the visual scale so the combination of colour and scarcity is alluring. We have both in Figure 5  where the 1955 2/- Cobb, a scarce stamp on cover, is presented as a triple franking no less for the 2/- airmail rate to U.S. (the stamp was primarily issued for airmail rate to U.K. and most Foreign countries) on this 18 Jul 1955 use from Perth of a colourful advertising cover for Albany Bell Hatchery (Chicks of “Real Quality”, which no doubt most male readers would have pursued at some stage in their life).  Value : $75.


                                                                                                     Figure 6

            During recent research I was surprised to learn just how few 1958 5½d Canberra Memorials I have recorded on cover.  Perhaps this is not so surprising when one considers that 5½d was for the low-survival commercial papers, printed matter and merchandise rates.  Even more difficult to find is a joined pair on cover which from 1 Oct 1959 became viable for the 11d combined basic letter rate (5d) and certified mail fee (6d).  Figure 6 shows such use on 26 Apr 1961 from Adelaide to Sydney, one week prior to the issue of the 11d Bandicoot which replaced the Canberra Memorial pair.  Value : $50.

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.