Stamp News May 2004
'Sleepers'-a-plenty from PNG
Occasionally I have been asked to feature in this column material from countries other than Australia. The fundamentals previously applied to Australian commercial covers can of course be subjected to material emanating from most stamp-issuing countries of the world. My research over many years has largely been confined to covers destined for Australasia, primarily and logically due to such material being the most readily available here. In the interests of diversity I will from time to time feature subjects from overseas countries where I believe my research is adequate for the task. In due course I’ll venture further afield but for now will constrain the diversification to a country close to home, Papua New Guinea.
The basic stamps of PNG are readily obtainable mint or used (yes, even ‘D1’ – just reach for that credit card). A greater challenge for aspiring collectors however is to find all of the stamps of PNG commercially used on cover. Some are common but many PNG stamps on commercial cover can reasonably be classified as scarce to even rare. Yet more often than not even these can be had for a relatively modest sum if one warms to the ‘hunt’. Market forces however are such that this situation is unlikely to last indefinitely. Some examples of what I like to refer to as ‘little unsung heroes’ are featured below with comments on why I have selected them. Figure 1Figure 1. 1958 3½d Headdress colour change. A really hard-to-find stamp on commercial cover this 20 Nov 1958 use is actually on a homemade wrapper to U.S. endorsed ‘PRINTED MATTER’, the rate for which to Foreign countries was 3½d to 2oz. Value : $75 (off cover $4). Figure 2
Figure 2. 1952 10/- Map. Rather obvious that this will be scarce on cover, given that it was primarily a parcels rate stamp, the few commercial articles I have seen have in fact been covers from the one correspondence to the Lawson company (they were traders) in the Solomon Islands. This solo franking of 4 Nov 1961 paid ten times the 1/- ½oz airmail rate (ie the article weighed 4½-5ozs). Value : $500 (off cover $20). I had a £1 Fisherman on cover from this correspondence but let that fish get away. The 10/- Rabaul and £1 QEII I have yet to see on a commercial article. Can any reader help? Figure 3Figure 3. 1958 1/7d Cattle. This was a ‘glamour’ stamp when I was philatelically maturing in the 1960s and its rapid retail ascent to over £1 thrilled the impressionable amongst us at that time. Today of course it is just another passé, readily obtainable basic stamp. Commercially used on cover the stamp is quite something else. Plenty of 1/7d’s are found on philatelic covers prepared by the Papuan Philatelic Society but on commercial cover the stamp is very scarce. To demonstrate its promise an example realised $294 at a Melbourne auction in March 2004. Our 26 May 1960 use, with ½d and 7½d (also scarce on cover) of the 1952 series, provides an unlikely although accurate franking composition for the 2/3d airmail rate to Germany. Value : $250 (stamps off cover $35). Figure 4Figure 4. 1960 2/5d Cattle. This successor to the 1/7d Cattle (both stamps were primarily for the combined letter rate/registration fee) I have found to also be very scarce on commercial cover. This 8 May 1963 registered solo use was for its primary purpose. Value : $200 (off cover $4). Figure 5
Figure 5. 1962 3/- Policeman. Scarce indeed on cover, the Lawson’s we have to thank for the survival of this rather special quadruple franking of 29 Apr 1963. This represents 12 times the 1/- ½oz airmail rate (5½-6ozs). Value : $150 (stamps off cover $5). Figure 6Figure 6. 1962 1/- Malaria. 1/- was the ½oz airmail rate to most South Pacific and Malaysian countries, and the Lawson correspondence has produced most if not all such items from PNG that I have seen. This 9 May 1962 use was for the basic rate. Value : $50 (off cover $1). Figure 7Figure 7. 1965 4/- Canoe Prows. Primarily a parcel rate stamp and therefore seldom survived intact on commercial articles (I have seen only two commercial covers). This 20 Aug 1965 seemingly commercial solo use is for the registered (2/-) airmail rate (2/- per ½oz) to U.S. Value : $100 (off cover $2). Figure 8Figure 8. 1964-65 6d Birds. A rather quaint 8 Dec 1964 solo use for very scarce concessional 6d Greetings card airmail rate to Solomon Islands. Thanks go again to the Lawson family who, in keeping their covers intact, saved so many PNG stamps from philately’s ‘woodchips’ pile! Value : $60 (off cover 30c).