Stamp News March 2004
Woodchip-free ZonePlenty of challenge in moderns
An interesting development in philatelic exhibiting in recent times has been the introduction of the 'Modern challenge'. This concept, and the 'Frugal philately' discipline which preceeded it, is an attempt by the forward-thinking philatelists at the coalface of organised philately in Australia to encourage more collectors to participate in exhibiting. For 'Modern challenge' one may select a given stamp series (from any country), usually from the 1950s onwards, and set about presenting a specialised showing, including the all-important usages on commercial cover.
Frankly, I cannot encourage concepts such as 'Modern challenge' enough. Here one has the opportunity to form a collection which can be the best of its kind without necessarily having to outlay a daunting sum of money. I know there are some who will argue if it doesn't cost much then it probably isn't worth having. My response would be that many of today's more expensive items were once in the 'frugal' category. Take for example many postmarks, postal stationery and postal history items, where in the instance of the last category one often bought items for little more than the value of the used stamps on the cover.
For those interested in taking up a 'Modern challenge' here are three suggestions for Australia (there are many, many for overseas but they are not the subject of this column. Yet!). At the early end of the range is the KGVI series which commenced in 1947 (with the 1d Princess) and concluded in 1952 (KGVI 61/2d green). This series included the high denomination Arms and therefore is a worthy challenge for the more ambitious. At the other end of the range is the 1988 'Living Together' series which has a number of followers already (including me - for usages on cover), and in between is the 1959-62 QEII Definitives which included the little zoologicals, the subject of this month's column. I have tried to feature some more unusual usages of these stamps, something that one would strive to do to complement an exhibit. Figure 1 Figure 1: 6d Banded Anteater. Largely intended for make-up use this 12 Jan 1962 is a good example of such, where four stamps together with a 5d serve the 2/5d combined registration (2/-) and letter rate (5d). It would appear that the Ardrossan P.O. from where this item originated may have temporarily run out of the 2/- (Flannel Flower), hence the utilisation of the 6d's for 'make-up' purposes. Not an easy stamp to find on commercial cover. Value : $30 (stamps off cover $1). Figure 2 Figure 2: 8d Tiger Cat. A terrific stamp for the specialist, abounding as it does in retouches (such as the famous 'Typhoon'), recuts, weak entries, roller shifts, etc. Usually found used for the 2nd weight step of the letter rate, generally on larger covers. This 9 Sep 1963 Official use (of outdated Perth Games propaganda cover) is pleasing in that it is of standard dimension. Value : $15 (off cover about zero). Figure 3 Figure 3: 9d Kangaroos. Another make-up use stamp and again rather uncommon on cover. This 8 Oct 1965 use (late as the 9d Magpie was a replacement on 11 Mar 1964) together with 6d Thornbill makes up the rather scarce 1/3d airmail rate to a Zone 3 country. Value : $45 (stamps off cover 90c). Figure 4 Figure 4: 11d Rabbit Bandicoot. Rather uncommon even for the combined letter rate and certified mail fee for which the stamp was primarily intended, this 28 Apr 1962 use as a component for the 1/2d concessional airmail postcard rate to U.K. is even scarcer. The 1/2d Tiger had been issued five weeks earlier for that rate but perhaps was not yet readily available at Alice Springs where this item originated. Value : $50 (stamps off cover 50c). Figure 5 Figure 5: 1/- Platypus. In my experience the most difficult of the six stamps in this series to find on a commercial cover. It was primarily intended for airmail to Malaya/ Singapore (Zone 2) although 1/- was also the rate to Fiji. This is a legitimate use on day of issue (9 Sep 1959) and I would not condemn it for that reason so scarce are solo uses on cover of this stamp. Value : $20 (off cover 30c). Figure 6 Figure 6: 1/2d Tasmanian Tiger. A nice 17 Dec 1965 use together with 2d, particularly so as both stamps are the scarcer Helecon printings, for double 8d airmail rate to N.Z. Apparently originally containing a Christmas card the article did not find the addressee and was returned to suburban Melbourne. The informative markings add colour and character for an exhibit. Value : $40 (stamps off cover $2).