Stamp News May 2003
This issue our selection of commercial use of Australian stamps on cover ranges from Kangaroos, the first occasion on which this series has featured in the column, through to Decimal-era. Most Kangaroo denominations are scarce to rare on cover, card or other postal item, and indeed I have yet to see a £1 brown and blue used on any commercial ‘entire’. Figure 1 is an advertising cover used to Germany 10 July 1913 bearing a First wmk. 2d and Victoria 3d for double Foreign letter rate (2½d per ½oz.). A 3d Kangaroo was on issue but it was then customary to ‘use up’ old State stamps in stock in the first instance before resorting to use of the newly issued series of stamps. Most combination State/ Commonwealth frankings are scarce and sought after and the subject cover, a fortuitous combination of attractive advertising, rare franking and even scarce cancellation (!), resulted in this item realising just under $4000, a record for a State/Commonwealth combination cover, in a recent auction. Value off cover : $15 (!).
Figure 2 is a postcard unusually sent by airmail from Melbourne to U.K. on 23 May 1938. The surface rate for postcards was only 1½d and few chose the luxury of the air service at six times the cost. This is a rare solo usage for a CofA wmk. 9d Kangaroo which is otherwise generally found (and then not often) as a solo stamp only on airmail letters to British S.E. Asia and Dutch East Indies. Value : $300 (off cover $5).
Moving downgear a cog or two, the Queen Mother 2d was issued on 28 March 1951 for Printed matter and Commercial papers rates within Australia, and Printed matter, Newspaper and Magazine rates overseas. However, a rate increase on 8 July 1951 rendered the stamp viable only for make-up use. An unusual solo use of 23 June 1960 is shown in Figure 3. Here we have a usage from Naval P.O. Nowra on cover inscribed ‘Commercial papers only’ and with handstamp indicating application of concessional rate for Defence Forces. The Forces rate was 1d per oz. for letters and 1d per 8oz. for Printed matter (or Commercial papers). It is unlikely that this cover contained over 8oz. of matter to warrant the use of greater than a 1d stamp, and it is more probable that it weighed over 1oz. and was paid at double the 1d letter rate by mistake, when as Commercial papers it would have required only 1d. Value : $30 (off cover 10c).
The 1956 Olympic Games 7½d, although not easy to find on commercial cover, is the least difficult of the 1950s 7½d commemoratives in this form. All were intended primarily for the Foreign letter rate although the Olympic issue is more often that not found as a make-up value in registered mail franking compositions. The usage on a Certified mail cover in Figure 4 is unusual. This cover is dated 12 November 1956 the day the certified mail service was introduced. Although possibly a contrived item the use of the current 2½d and 7½d to make up the 10d combined letter rate (4d) and Certified fee (6d) is quite legitimate. A 10d denomination for this service was not issued until 6 March 1957. Value : $25 (off cover 60c).
Figure 5 shows a postcard bearing the 1971 Australia Asia 15c. Other than for a couple of nice retouches on two units of the 50 in a sheet this is a stamp which has little to recommend it philatelically nowadays aside from its validity for postage purposes. However, in keeping with so many Decimal-era issues, this stamp is uncommon commercially used on cover (or card as in this example) in period of issue. Used in ‘period of issue’ is of course the key element for all items featured in this column. The use of this stamp for postal purposes today, as alluded to earlier, will not create a desirable philatelic item. Rather, the best that modern (ie out-of-period) use can be hoped to achieve is that the stamp ends up in a gift packet which ushers in the recipient as a new recruit to philately. Even I do not flinch upon ‘woodchipping’ covers bearing grossly out-of-period use of Australian Decimal stamps (unless of course the cover received some non-contrived postal markings of merit). Used on cover in-period the Australia Asia 15c is fairly scarce. Its primary purpose of issue was for the Zone 2 airmail rate although it is mostly encountered as a make-up value for registration and higher zones airmail. One other possible solo use, although scarce, was for the Zone 5 airmail postcard rate (15c vs. 30c for the letter rate) as shown in this 19 January 1971 use. Value : $45 (off cover $1).
Next issue I will introduce an element of 'Postal History' to demonstrate how various markings encountered during transmission of a postal article can add considerably to value and provide yet another reason not to ‘woodchip’ a cover.
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.