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Stamp News    March  2010 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 

Hong Kong's 1st QEII series. Good choice for a usage study.

The first definitive series' of QEII, for the whole of the British Commonwealth, are generally a colourful affair, many being bicoloured, recess-printed pictorial stamps. They look great, never more so than when commercially used on covers, postcards and other postal articles. I have usage collections of the first QEII series for many of the countries involved, ranging from sub one-frame (some are tough to find) through to full blown 8-framers (128 pages). They're amongst my favourite collections.

One of my first QEII collections is that for Hong Kong, not a pictorial series, but interesting in that the 1954 design is an adaptation of that first used in 1862, for Queen Victoria. Now that would be a usage collection challenge extroadinaire! The QEII stamps, fortunately, are generally readily available on covers, etc, with the exception of the $10, which is fairly difficult to find, and there are many uncommon usages for most denominations to be sought out. Here follows an introduction to a usage collection of this series, the model for which can be generally applied to most other QEII definitive series', be they the first, second or whatsoever.

                                                         Figure 1. 5c orange  

For the QEII series, the 1c, 2c and 4c denominations, found for the preceding KGVI series, were abandoned. Pity, as usage of sub base rate denominations (10c in 1954) can add to the fun. The 5c was for local Printed papers rate (also to Macau and China), and Figure 1 is a 25 Sep 1956 use from Tai Po to, well . . . The exotic nature of Chinese characters, naturally often encountered in material from this series, in my opinion, adds to the charm of the subject.

                                                          Figure 2.
10c lilac

A common base rate stamp is best shown in a usage exhibit in a more unusual role. Figure 2 has this denomination x5 paying Letter rate + registration fee (40c), sent 2 Jan 1958 from Yuen Long, a smaller P.O., to Kowloon.

                                                               Figure 3. 15c green

The 15c was for Printed papers rate (up to 2ozs.) for all other countries. A more attractive use is Figure 3, a 9 Apr 1960 combination franking with 50c for 2nd Class airmail (65c unsealed rate) to Australia.

                                                               Figure 4. 20c brown

20c was the British Commonwealth surface rate, and Figure 4 is to U.K., added interest supplied by the short term slogan cancel "THIRTEENTH EXHIBITION/OF HONG KONG PRODUCTS/2 DEC. 55 TO 2 JAN. 56", and arrival handstamp of addressee.

                                                               Figure 5. 25c red

A likely use of the 25c was for postcard rate to non Commonwealth countries. More unusual a use is that shown in Figure 5, where a pair has been utilized on 15 Sep 1956 to frank a formular Aerogramme (rate was 50c obviously) to Australia. One often encounters "formula" erroneously used to describe stationery of a formular nature.

                                                                Figure 6. 30c grey

The 30c as a solo franking appears to be one to look out for; I don't have one. Two possible solo uses would be for sextuple Printed or Commercial papers rates, or reply paid postcards to British Commonwealth countries. Now, there's no place in this column for anything associated with the first mentioned possible use, so I'll have to focus on acquiring one of the other possibility. Selected for the 30c for now is Figure 6, where a combination with the $1 on 24 May 1962 paid the $1.30 required for double 65c postcard rate to Australia (note "Card Only" endorsement). A rather uncommon rate.

                                                                Figure 7. 40c blue

A nice solo use of the 40c on 5 Apr 1954 for validating a formular Air Letter (Aerogrammes were once so-called) to U.S., in Figure 7.

                                                        Figure 8. More 40c blues

Even nicer use of 40c, a pair with 10c, in Figure 8, for 18 Aug 1961 registered use of formular Aerogramme to U.S. Stationery collectors love registered Aerogrammes, which of course are quite rare.

                                                       Figure 9. 50c reddish purple

Common stamp on postal articles, the 50c solo usage in Figure 9 is a cut above the average. Firstly, it is has a marginal "Control" number, and secondly is used from a smaller P.O., Sheungwan. The stamp pays registered Letter rate.

                                Figure 10. 65c grey - one of the two post-1954 issues

The highest S.G. priced used stamp of this series is the 65c. At £12 it exceeds even the $10 denomination, at £9.50. On postal article, however, the 65c is easier to find than is the top denomination. In Australia, we see the 65c used mostly for the airmail postcard rate, sent back home by visiting tourists. Much harder to find is the 65c used for the 2nd Class (unsealed) airmail rate, an example of which is shown in Figure 10. This was sent from Kowloon to Australia on 19 Dec 1960, paying for a greetings card.

                   Figure 11. $1 orange and green - commencement of the bicolours

As Figure 6 is a 30c + $1 franking combination. Figure 11 is another of these, but for another rate, $1.30 airmail to Australia, sent 13 Jun 1957. Of course, I could have provided this item as an example of usage for the 30c denomination, but as the $1 has the well known constant variety, Short right leg to "R", it obviously "fits" better as an item to exhibit under the $1 stamp banner. Incidentally, covers are a great medium to explore for varieties; often one can be the first to place a magnifying glass over a stamp on cover.

                     Figure 12. $1.30 blue and red - the other of the post-1954 issues

Figure 12 is another of those combination frankings which would be equally at home exhibited under either denomination of the two represented in this $1.30 + 40c combination franking. Shown under the $1.30, as here, one would emphasis that this denomination paid airmail to U.K., and the 40c paid registration fee. If exhibited under the 40c stamp, one would reverse the respective franking roles.

                                               Figure 13. $2 reddish violet and scarlet

The airmail rate to U.S. was $1, and double rate items bearing the $2 are not uncommon. Figure 13 is one such use, sent 6 Apr 1960.

                                                   Figure 14. $5 green and purple

One of the nicer items in my exhibit, Figure 14 has pairs of the $5 and $2, plus the humble 5c, for registered 2nd Class airmail to U.K. of a "Bible/7½ ozs." (see Customs docket attached). I can't get a date from this item, owing to uneven surface of original packaging. The rate is 65c 2nd Class airmail x21 = $13.65 + 40c registration = $14.05.

    Figure 15. $10 reddish violet and bright blue - solo franking certain to be a "holy grail"

The top denomination in any usage study is likely to be one of, if not the most desirable inclusion in solo franking form. Figure 15 is mine for this denomination, sent 11 Apr 1956 by registered airmail from Kowloon to U.S. The rate is $1 airmail x9 + registration 40c + insurance 50c (per $300 of insured value or part thereof) = $9.90. Not $10, I know, but who's counting!

                          Figure 16. Interesting item to conclude this month's column

To finish up on an entirely different tangent, we probably all have come in contact from time to time with collectors who refuse to buy from Traders or Auction Houses. "They're too expensive!" is a typical outburst provided as an excuse for non participation. Well, of course, expensive can be the case, but as more enlightened readers will doubtless agree, the opposite can apply, even if the odds are akin to winning a lottery. Philatelically pro active Tim Roger, of Mildura, who is forming an important usage collection, recently brought to my attention a newsworthy purchase. Plucked from the website of a high profile APTA member Trader, Tim's purchase is very much the antithesis of "too expensive". Shown as Figure 16, Tim's purchase is an extremely rare use of a Second wmk. 2/-, solo at that, on a Victorian Interstate Parcel Post label, a rarity in itself, and in remarkably good condition. The Melbourne parcels post datestamp is indistinct, perhaps the only points loss for this item, but appears to be 1916, correct period of use for this watermark. I've inspected the actual item and can confirm the watermark, and the fact that the stamp is tied to label. Although the "Interstate" label was used, I believe the parcel was sent intrastate. The rate of 2/- was for an intrastate 6-7lbs. parcel. The "Victoria" labels were by 1916 obsolete, and I suggest the Melbourne Post Office was using them up for parcels to any destination. Tim paid $550 for this great item. What do I think it's worth? I'd estimate it for auction at $4000, and would be surprised if that figure was not exceeded. The moral to the story? Don't limit your collection by buying only from the Post Office and the Stamp Club. Make your collection count by being pro active in sourcing material from APTA member Traders and Auction Houses. Incidentally, I'm the first to admit I've made more than my fair share of bloopers when selling during a long trading career, and that's just for the blunders I know of! Philately is so diverse that no one individual can ever aspire to know anywhere near everything. Become highly proficient in your speciality, and get out there and pillage and plunder!

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.