Stamp News May 2007
The 1969 Primary Industries Series. Their Usage.
The issue of the 1969 Primary Industries set could be said to have coincided with my graduation to the 'fastlane' in Philatelic Trading; a time when I had commenced full page advertising in Stamp News. I have fond memories of this set, for it will be seen it came to play a pivotal role in one of my earliest 'entrepreneurial' Philatelic endeavours, one of many not destined for Philately's Hall of Fame. In 1969 I was buying quite large quantities of the then urrent Post Office 'Specimen' pack, which comprised cancelled-to-order 1c to 50c denominations, and overprinted 'SPECIMEN' 75c to $4 (Navigators), and cost $2. I was then running an advertised 'Special' at $1.95 for the Specimen set, and laboriously wholesaling off the c.t.o. remainder at around 30c. Modest return, indeed, but the Specimens were very popular, particularly with overseas collectors (who were probably not aware that for an extra 5c they could have bought the entire pack from the Post Office), and I keenly pursued this certain, nice little earner. In the latter part of 1969, the Primary Industries set began to appear c.t.o. in the packs, replacing the more pedestrian 7c Fish, and 15c, 20c and 25c Flowers. This upped the ante considerably, for as a short-lived 'special' issue, the Primary Industries were destined to be hard-to-get fine used, particularly at the outset of their issue. With 67c face value for the set, I reckoned for c.t.o. I could get 45c wholesale all day long. Thinking way bigger than my Cash at Bank balance, I resolved to write to the Post Office and order 1000 packs, provided the contents were supplied to me in complete sheet form. I reasoned, convincingly I thought, that this would save Post Office staff considerable labour in breaking-down sheets in to singles for inclusion in those 1000 individual packs. I failed to convince the Post Office of the merits of my proposal, and in so doing deprived the Philatelic market of lots of lovely multiples of 'SPECIMEN' Navigators, etc. Many years later, Richard Breckon, Australia Post Historian, advised me that my proposal invoked some Departmental debate, but any temptation to book the 'easy' $2000 in sales was soon overcome. Fortunately, although associated with my earliest commercial failure, the Primary Industries set remains untarnished in my eyes, and I'm pleased to feature their usage this month.
Figure 1. Solo franking - sweet item
The lowest denomination is by far the scarcest of the four on commercial postal article. In fact, relative scarcity is in direct opposite correlation to the respective denominations; the 25c being the most readily available by my census, with the 20c, 15c and 7c, in that order, being quite distant, to varying degrees, in terms of their scarcity. 7c was the Foreign letter rate, and this stamp issue was generally available for use for only six months. Figure 1 is one of only three usages for this rate I've noted, and indeed my total census of usage items for this stamp is an excruciatingly low nine only! The other six usages were for make-up purposes, including for registered mail. This will prove an elusive stamp for usage aficionados, and a popular thematic to compound demand. Our subject was used 17 Jul 1970 from CSIRO in Melbourne to U.S. A usage (1) item in the table below, valued at $75 (off cover $1).
Figure 2. Vivid clash of colours for a 'Tattersalls' cover
One of three make-up rates for registered mail I've seen, Figure 2 is from the ubiquitous 'Tattersalls' hoard. The majority of Primary Industries usage items in my census owe their survival to having been addressed to that venerable organisation. The 7c is a component in this 25c franking, sent from Booroorban (NSW) on 11 Jul 1970, which actually underpays by 5c the Letter rate (5c) plus registration fee (25c). A (2) usage valued at $30 (stamps off cover $1.40), which is the basic 'on cover' price in ACSC.
Figure 3. To Philatelic Bureau, Gilberts, but not 'Philatelic'
The debate as to whether a given item represents 'Philatelic' or 'Commercial' use can often be subjective, but rarely uninteresting! Figure 3 might be categorised as 'Philatelic' by some; it is after all addressed to the impressively titled 'Chief Postmaster', Philatelic Bureau, Gilbert & Ellice Islands. However, I would contend that this item is absolutely acceptable for inclusion in a collection of commercial usage. Why? Well, if one were to arrive at one's local Post Office in December 1969, excitedly clutching an envelope containing an order for the latest Gilberts stamps, and the request was to send the article by airmail, most logically one would be handed a current 15c stamp, the 15c Timber, to facilitate that postal service. So it came to pass on 3 Dec 1969 when Figure 3 was sent from Caringbah (NSW). This is a very scarce solo use of the 15c for ½oz. airmail rate to Zone 2 (I've seen only one other), which comprised regions in the Pacific and parts of Asia. A (2) usage valued at $80 (off cover $4).
Figure 4. 'Timber's' which fortunately were not wood-chipped
Duo frankings of the 15c Timber are scarce. For the record, my census for this stamp comprised 9 x solo, 4 x duo, 4 x combo, a total of 17 commercial usages, or slightly less than one per year for the 18 years I've been keeping 'count'! Are you getting the picture as to why I'm excited about usage as a collecting concept? I have records also of the embarrassingly high numbers of many so-called 'rare' stamps offered during the same time-frame, but we wont go there. Figure 4, a 2 Dec 1969 use of a 15c pair for combined Letter rate/registration from Katoomba to eminent Philatelist, the late Bob Taylor in Sydney. Yes, even Philatelists receive mail, and again I've no problem with this item in a commercial usage collection. A (5) usage valued at $50 (stamps off cover $8).
Figure 5. Seeking a Subiaco lad on R & R
This denomination is slightly less hard-to-find than the 15c; my census totalled 24 items. Solo frankings, however, are very scarce and I've found only three, one of them a Vietnam War survivor (see usage (1) below), another underpaid ((3) below). The selected example is shown as Figure 5, sent from Perth 27 Oct 1969 to a member of Subiaco Football Club, Park Hotel, Hong Kong, the 20c paying ½oz. Zone 3 airmail. Thanks to the time capsule capability that only covers evoke, we know from the manuscript notation which room at The Park the addressee stayed at! I've mentioned previously that prior to the lifting of the White Australia Policy, Australian mails to (and from) S.E. Asia were small, and here is another example of surviving material more often than not relating to tourism correspondence. A (2) usage, valued at $80 (off cover $1), but expect an item such as this to fetch more if offered in a competitive environment.
Figure 6. Australian cover stocks would be somewhat slimmer were it not for 'Tattersalls' The majority of 20c covers I've seen are from 'Tattersalls', utilised as a component for combined Letter rate (5c) and registration fee (25c). Figure 6 is one such, used 15 Oct 1969 from Baddaginnie (Vic). Clearly, it would appear, gambling was a highpoint if one lived in Baddaginnie in the 'sixties. A make-up use valued at $18 (stamps off cover $1.30), again the basic ACSC cover price.
Figure 7. 'AR' service handy for confirming your bet was laid
The 25c is the 'easiest' of the set to find on commercial article. Thanks again largely to 'Tattersalls'. The majority of the usages I've noted are from that source, the 25c paying registration fee during the 5c Letter rate period (refer usage (6) below), on sending's of cash for purchase of sweep tickets. A more unusual and cost effective manner of ensuring that your cash was received was to send by Certified mail and request signed confirmation from the recipient upon receipt. The 'A.R.' (Acknowledgment of Receipt) service cost 10c in addition to the Certified fee (also 10c), and together with Letter rate (5c) gave the 25c Wool a rare window of opportunity to be utilised as a solo franking for the aggregate cost of the combined services. Figure 7 is one such use, sent from Hobart 31 Oct 1969, and I've seen one other. A (1) usage valued at $60 (off cover $1).
Figure 8. Underfranked items can be a furtive source of scarce solos
For those who particularly seek unusual solo frankings, don't forget to check your favourite Trader's 'deficient postage' section of stock! In such places I've found many novel underpaid items (not necessarily taxed by the Post Office) underfranked with a solo stamp, sometimes a stamp which one seldom sees as a solo franking. The Germans in particular love such material, and I've seen some quite amazing prices for solo underfrankings. Figure 8 is an example of this type (usage (3) for the 20c Wheat is another). A 9 Jul 1970 (note year slug in date portion of cancel is inverted : novel in itself) use from Perth to U.K. sent by airmail. The correct airmail rate was 30c per ½oz., so in bearing a solitary 25c only it's underpaid, and should have been taxed 10c by the Post Office (the traditional 'double deficiency' - 5c x 2 = 10c). I like such items, taxed or untaxed, and generally they're scarce. Indeed, Figure 8 is the only item of its type I've seen, a (5) use, valued at $60. From a Postal history point of view, this type of item could be said to be akin to errors in traditional stamps.
Update to January 2007 'Arms' article
In the above I featured two items bearing the Arms £1. Figure 5 was in combination with other items for a total franking of 23/9d. I confessed to not having enough information to deduce the make-up of that rate. Richard Breckon (Historian, Australia Post) kindly came to the rescue and forwarded me a copy of General Conditions relating to Parcel Post, scarce and very welcome information. Richard pointed out that Figure 5 is explained by the rule governing the sending of gold, silver and precious metals through the post. Such articles, being ineligible for parcel rates, had to be sent at Letter rates, and could be registered only when paid at Letter rates. Therefore, to equate to 23/9d, we take Letter rate which was then 3½d for 1st oz. + 2½d per oz. thereafter x 109 (272½d) + 9d registration fee = 285d (or 23/9d), representing postage for 6 pounds 14 ounces. More fun than buying New issues to insert in an illustrated album? You be the judge. Figure 6 was a solo franking of the £1. I had seen only two covers bearing a solo franking of this stamp, and in the interim a third has been offered at auction. Figure 9 is that item, a 10 Jan 1964 registered use from American Consulate General, Sydney, to U.K., representing 18/- airmail (2/3d ½oz. rate x 8 - for 3½-4ozs.) plus 2/- registration fee. Pity the sender didn't wait a few more weeks, at which time the £1 Bass would have been the stamp used (I've yet to see such stamp solo). The subject item realised $620 at auction (my valuation in January was $400), which may tend to corroborate a general consensus amongst cover aficionados that my cover valuations are too conservative!
(1) Foreign letter rate
(2) Make-up use
(1) Combined Letter rate (5c) and Certified Fee
(2) Airmail rate - Zone 2
(3) Airmail postcard - Zone 5
(4) Airmail Greetings card rate - Zone 5
(5) 15 x 2 Combined Letter rate (5c) and
Registration fee (25c)
(6) 15c x 2 Airmail rate - Zone 5
(7) Make-up use
(1) Defense Forces in Asia Airmail rate - fourth weight step (1½ - 2 ozs.)
(2) Airmail rate - Zone 3
(3) Airmail rate - Zone 4 (underpaid for 25c rate)
(4) Make-up use
(1) Combined letter rate (5c), Certified (10c),
Acknowledgement of Delivery (10c)
(2) Registration fee on Business Reply Post
(3) Registration fee only on article where Letter
rate (5c) incorrectly is unpaid
(4) Airmail rate - Zone 4
(5) Airmail rate - Zone 5 (underpaid for 30c
(6) 25c as Registration fee uprate for 5c Letter
(7) 25c uprate of 5c British Empire rate for
Airmail service (Zone 5)
(8) Make-up use
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.