Stamp News May 2010
Suggested model for a Usage collection
Presented this month is a suggested model which one might adopt for a particular stamp issue when forming a Usage collection. Selected for the exercise is Australia's 1958 8d Trans-Tasman flight anniversary stamp, featuring the heroic Charles Kingsford Smith, and an uncommon stamp on commercial cover/card. The suggested "blueprint" (pun unintended) for a Usage collection of this stamp, could be applied to most stamps issued by Australia, and indeed most stamps of the world.
Typically in a Usage collection, one would seek examples of the subject stamp as a solo, multiple, and combination franking with another stamp/s. The suggested model to adopt for a usage study is categorized as follows:
1. Solo frankings
There is often more than one possibility for solo use of a stamp. A specialist will strive to feature every possibility. Solo usage for the subject stamp is shown as Figure 1.
2. Multiple frankings
Many possible configurations may exist for multiple use of a subject stamp, without the presence of another stamp/s issue, from a pair (or two singles) to a complete sheet (highly unlikely for our subject stamp!). Generally, I would be content with a pair, a strip of three, a block of four, and the largest other multiple one could find. The record multiple (ie the largest recorded) is the ultimate, and may occur in a combination franking, rather than a multiple franking of the same stamp (as in Figure 10). For multiple franking examples (strips of three) see Figures 2 and 3.
3. Combination frankings
Usages with another stamp/s can be subdivided in to two distinct categories:
(i) Instances where the subject stamp pays a specific rate, such as airmail surcharge, registration or certified mail fee, or other special or miscellaneous services (eg Acknowledgement of Delivery ("A.R.") , Express delivery, Priority paid), etc. I couldn't locate an example of the subject stamp used for such an "uprate", and indeed I can't readily suggest a circumstance which would facilitate such use.
(ii) All other possibilities where the subject stamp forms a component of the franking composition. It need not be the dominant franking, as in the highest denomination amongst a group, or the most prolific stamp issue present, although these are desirable elements. Such combinations are often the most attractive in a Usage collection. See Figures 4 to 10 for examples.
Figure 1. Solo franking for primary purpose for which this stamp was issued
The 8d was issued for airmail rate to N.Z., and the 6d issue of that country was for the same purpose to Australia. I've seen but a few such usages for the 8d; more should turn up in N.Z. Figure 1 is the only decent example I can lay my hands upon, and was featured in this column 12 months ago. I valued it then at $100, but such is the increased demand in the interim for such very scarce usage items, I suspect this would now fetch nearer $150 if auctioned.
Figure 2. Strip of three, less likely composition for 2/- airmail
Figures 2 and 3 are strips of three of the 8d, for airmail to U.S., but for quite distinct rate categories. The first is for the 2/- ½oz. airmail rate, a common rate, although the 2/- Crocodile is the usually encountered franking at this period in time. Value : $60.
Figure 3. Strip of three for rather special usage
Figure 3 is a special use of a strip of three. Again a 2/- rate, on this occasion it is for the ½-1oz. airmail Greetings card rate. Note the "Card only" endorsement; to qualify for this more economical rate the envelope had to be sent unsealed. Examples of "double" card rate are scarce, and particularly desirable when the franking consists of an uncommon stamp on cover. Value : $120.
Figure 4. Unusual composition, uncommon rate
The 1/- airmail postcard rate to U.S. is not often encountered. It's much scarcer than the 1/2d rate for postcards to Europe, for which the 1/2d Thylacine is a sought after franking. Figure 4 has an unusual franking composition for the 1/- rate. I initially thought I had an elusive "3(i)" usage above, where the 8d was paying for airmail uprate of a 4d surface mail postcard. That isn't the case, for although the surface postcard rate within Australia and to British Empire countries was 4d, the surface postcard rate to foreign countries was 4½d! Subtle difference, but quantum in determining the usage category, which of course is "3(ii)". Value : $75.
Figure 5. From Swedish Church in Toorak to Swedish Consul in El Salvador!
I mention the 1/- and 1/2d airmail postcard rates under the preceding item, but far, far rarer is the 1/3d airmail postcard rate to South and Central America, and The West Indies. Figure 5 is a postcard destined for El Salvador by air, for which postage should have amounted to 1/3d. It falls short by 1d; the sender was the Swedish Church, doubtless more accustomed to sending postcards to Europe at the 1/2d rate; a Melbourne tax marking appears in lower right corner. Value : $100.
Figure 6. Unusual franking composition for 1/7d registered letter
Unusual frankings are very welcome in a Usage collection, and Figure 6 is a good example of the unusual. Logically, one would expect the QEII 1/7d brown to have been utilized for a registered letter in 1959, when this item left Burnside (SA) Post Office. Perhaps this smaller office had temporarily exhausted its stock of the 1/7d, and resorted to using up a pair of low demand 8d's towards the task at hand. Value : $60.
Figure 7. Another 8d pair, this time registered airmail letter
Figure 7 is another registered letter bearing a pair of 8d, on this occasion by airmail from Trinity Gardens (SA). Addressed to Tattersalls, the sender probably didn't want to be late for the draw, and paid an extra 3d postage for airmail delivery to Melbourne. Similar value to preceding item : $60.
Figure 8. Strip of three, to less likely destination of DDR
One occasionally sees the 8d x3, plus a 3d, for the 2/3d ½oz. airmail rate to Europe. Such items typically are addressed to the U.K., so a destination of East Germany, as in Figure 8, is very unusual. Value : $80.
Figure 9. Cheerful franking, invoking Christmas goodwill
The strip of three in Figure 9 is the dominant franking in a varied composition for the 4/- ½-1oz. airmail rate to Canada. Some might argue this is a philatelic franking, however, the rate is correct, the stamps were then current, and I would argue that Roelands (WA) P.O. was probably short of higher denomination stamps, and reverted to composing a 4/- franking as expeditiously as stock would allow. This would have provided a good opportunity to reduce stock of the low demand 8d. Sent in early December, the contents were likely a Christmas card and probably accompanying letter, hence greater weight. Value : $60.
Figure 10. The record franking to date
Figure 10 is a category "3(ii)" usage. It would have been a "2" were it not for the presence of the 7d, which determines it to be a combination franking. A strip of seven of the 8d is very unusual, and is the largest number of this stamp on one article I've noted; the "record" franking. At 5/3d, this is a rather high franking for 1958, and represents 4/- ½-1oz. airmail to U.S. + 1/3d registration fee. Used at the small Syndal (Vic) P.O., I suspect this is yet another instance of taking an opportunity to use up that pesky 8d stock. Value : $100.
Drawing upon the model presented, I hope I may have inspired a few readers to take up the challenge of forming a Usage collection. Such collections are a lot of fun, and much can be achieved without having to go broke. For example, one could embark upon a Usage collection of Australia QEII £SD commemoratives, of which our subject stamp this month forms a component. With a little patience, and a load of ferreting, you could expect to eventually have enough material to form an 8-frame (128 pages) exhibit. It's doable, I speak from experience, and the exercise may well cost an aggregate less than the price of a £2 Kangaroo MUH (Mint UnHealthy around my corridors). And you will be the owner of a unique collection, for which you may justifiably be very proud. You will have created something worthwhile virtually out of thin air, it's fair to say. Such a collection would be capable of achieving perhaps a Vermeil medal if exhibited competitively, at State/National level. Ask yourself frankly, will a solitary mint £2 Kangaroo achieve that?
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.