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Stamp News  May 2013 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 


Airmail overload


This month I conclude the introduction of my airborne mail to Australasia collection, commenced last month.

More on that later, but firstly I wish to add my tribute to the late Bill Hornadge, founder of Seven Seas Stamps, and this very magazine, who passed away in March, aged a grand 94.

Bill was, for most of his life, one of Australia's most influential philatelic journalists and traders. I think it fair to say that his S.S.S. (proudly promoted as The Largest Philatelic Organisation in the Southern Hemisphere) was responsible for introducing more to stamp collecting in Australia than any other promoter, before or after. Those alluring advertisements in kids and women's magazines were difficult to ignore, not to mention the ground breaking Ampol stamps give away campaign, and I feel very confident in stating that many reading these words will heartily agree that they are doing so because of the reach of Bill's marketing innovations.

I first met Bill in the 1960s, when he was guest of honor at a Brighton Philatelic Society meeting. Within a couple of years of that meeting, by 1969, I was to become a regular advertiser in his Stamp News. A photograph of Bill's attendance at BPS, being handed a gift of appreciation from then President, Peter Sadesky, with a baby-faced Rod Perry a few seats back in the crowd, recalls fond memories of that evening.

Bill, as Editor of Stamp News, was very helpful to his fledging advertiser, and forgiving of his tardiness in getting advertising copy in on time. A visionary, Bill wrote in his magazine in the 1970s that the Trade had better take a crash course in the fundamentals of Postal History, or miss the boat to the next big thing in Philately. I doubt that even a few percent of the then burgeoning Trade, flush with spoils from the uninformed "investment" market, had the slightest idea of what Bill was recommending, yet any intention to gain from his words of wisdom.

I have many items of Hornadge memorabilia in my Commercial Philately collection, and perhaps the best expression I can provide of my esteem for Bill would be to publish here three of my favourites, taken from my exhibit of the subject.

             Figure 1. Eighteen years of age, and publisher of his own stamp magazine.

Stamp News was not Bill's only magazine featuring our favourite pursuit. As early as 1937 Bill was bashing the typewriter keys, producing The Australian Stamp Collector. What was I doing at 18, well might many of us ask of ourselves. Bill's mother, Lily, was Associate Editor, when not postmarking stamps at Catherine Hill Bay P.O., of which she was then Postmistress. Clearly, the philatelic gene was inherited. Figure 1 shows 1937 letterhead with "W. Hornadge" handstamped signature, and cover in which it was conveyed.

                        Figure 2. An insight in to the eclectic mind of Bill Hornadge?

I wonder can any reader enlighten us as to the intended meaning of the cryptic message inscribed in Figure 2, a 1939 illustrated cover with "W. Hornadge/Catherine Hill Bay" inscription upper left?:

                               Figure 3. "This could be the start of something big?"

I wonder did the words "This could be the start of something big?" enter Bill's head in 1954, when he launched Stamp News. Certainly, he must have been quite chuffed to see his baby thriving nearly 60 years later. Figure 3 is a 1954 advertising cover for the magazine, addressed to K. Bileski, a legendary Canadian Trader.

Last month I featured GB's Seahorses on airmail covers to Australia, from the upcoming auction of my collection of airborne mail to Australasia, 1899-1945 (the 1899 item, for those who are puzzled, is an N.Z. Great Barrier Is flimsy, sent to a Melbourne associate by an Aussie tourist then visiting the island). Amidst the excitement of the Kangaroo stamp centenary, it then escaped me that this year is also the centenary of the Seahorses! Congratulations to our collector friends in GB.

This month I've selected a small number of other items from my collection. Whilst the collection is worldwide, these are largely European-centric, for no better reason than the scans were readily available to me. Incidentally, the answer to the poorly kept secret as to the Auction House chosen to auction the collection is Phoenix Auctions, and the auction date June 7 2013.

                      Figure 4. 1912: Germany to Mr Twelvetrees in Launceston

Difficult to imagine mail to Australia being accelerated by air in 1912. Figure 4 is proof of just that, a Jun 12 commercial use of specially inscribed airmail postcard at Darmstadt Germany during experimental air mail flights on Rhein and Main, bearing 10pf for foreign postcard rate and mandatory 10pf etiquette for airmail surcharge, both tied by the special cancellation, addressed to Govt Geologist (the quaintly named Mr Twelvetrees), Launceston. The pioneer Zeppelin airship Schwaben and airplane Gelber Hund serviced the flights, raising the possibility that this item is the earliest Zeppelin-flown destined for Australia, aside from being the only recorded example to Australia. Earliest recorded air-lifted items from a variety of origin countries are a favoured feature of my collection. Auction estimate $5000.

                                             Figure 5. Exotic origins a feature

Creating a collection which separates itself from others is a worthy goal. One of the ways in which I sought individuality was to seek out unusual origins to Australia. Figure 5 is perhaps more exotic than unusual, a Sociéte des Nations 1937 (Oct 13) Section d'information official registered Imprimés cover to Sydney bearing overprinted pairs of Swiss 1f 50 and 50c, and single 35c, the aggregate 4f 35 representing Imprime 5c + airmail surcharge 80c per 5gms x5 + 30c registration. Auction estimate $1000.

                                               Figure 6. This Seahorse overprinted

Yet another of my passions in collecting is seeking out high aggregate frankings, and in particular the use of highest denomination stamps in the franking composition. An example is Figure 6, a 1937 (Jun 16) cover bearing extremely rare franking of G.B. re-engraved Seahorses 10/- opt, 6d and ½d tied by Baile Atha Cliath double-circle, aggregate 10/6½d representing 11½d per ½oz. inclusive airmail to Singapore Malaya x11. Auction estimate $3000.

                      Figure 7. Well known "key" stamps helpful in impressing judges

An expansion of the preference for high denominations mentioned in Figure 6 is evident in Figure 7. This 1938 (Jul 25) registered Tulles, Dentelles cover Caudry Nord France to Melbourne, bearing aggregate franking 154f 75, includes popular and rare pair 1936 Air 50f "Banknote", bound to impress a judge (!), representing U.P.U. 5f 75 (80-100gms) + airmail surcharge 7f per 5gms x21 + 2f registration. Auction estimate $1200.

       Figure 8. Former Iron Curtain countries particularly uncommon pre-war to Australia

I rather like Air Mail stamps to feature in an airborne mail collection; the more exotic the origin country and its Air Mail stamps the better. Accordingly, the appearance of a triangular stamp is particularly pleasing to my eye in Figure 8, a 1935 (Sep 11) registered cover Liepaja Latvia to Perth bearing aggregate franking 1l 65 for U.P.U. 35s + airmail surcharge 45s per 5gms x2 + 40s registration. An attractive, early and rare registered cover. Auction estimate $600. Typical of the many more modestly estimated items in the collection.

                       Figure 9. Zeppelin Hindenburg acceleration of mail to Australia

Zeppelin-lifted commercial mail destined for Australia, perhaps unsurprisingly, is extremely rare. One of my items in that category is Figure 9, a 1936 (May 10) The Willard Hotel Washington D.C. cover and letterhead enclosure to Melbourne, endorsed "VIA ZEPPELIN TO EUROPE/THENCE AIR MAIL TO AUSTRALIA", Hindenburg requisite handstamp, and Frankfurt arrival (May 14), arriving U.K. in time to be loaded to Imperial Airways interrupted flight IE 445, where Aurora on May 24 developed engine trouble at Penang, necessitating mail load being transferred to Brisbane, which departed the following day. Perhaps the quintessential Zeppelin cover to Australia, one of only three commercial Hindenburg items recorded to that destination. [Sender comments: "We saw the arrival of the Hindenburg the day before last, she arrived about 5 o'clock just as dawn was breaking and really Eve I have never seen a more wonderful sight, she was all light [sic] up and looked simply marvelous with the blue sky in the back ground, she flew right down Broadway right over the Mc Alpin and we had a wonderful view of her from our windows, Evan was awake from 2.30 waiting for her, he was so thrilled when she did arrive. Don is arranging to have this letter sent back by her & then mailed from Germany"] Auction estimate $6000.

                             Figure 10. "Crash" covers seldom reflect Philately as Art

Figure 10 is a personal favourite of mine. I find the Swiss 1923 Air series charming, and their use on a famous "crash" cover a delight. This 1936 (Sep 22) Aluminiumwerke Rorschach Switzerland cover to Sydney franked 3f 75 [underpaid and taxed 2f 25 at Chiasso], was on board Imperial Airways service flight IE 482, during which Athena caught fire Sep 29 at Delhi, while the engines were being started; it transpired that oxygen bottles rather than compressed air were used to start the engines, and the aircraft was destroyed. The mail on board largely originated in the U.K, so a Switzerland originating participant is both refreshing and rare. Note "Salvaged from Air Iiner/ATHENA" lower right. Auction estimate $800.

                   Figure 11. Exotic origin, and an incident for added good measure

Airmail items which were involved in incidents or other interruptions to service are a particular feature of my collection. Approaching 25% of the 1100 lots in the auction catalogue are in that category. Figure 11 is particularly unusual in that not only was there an incident, the origin is most exotic. Here is a 1931 (Jun 16) cover Danzig to Melbourne endorsed for Imperial Airways service via Karachi-Delhi, loaded to flight IE 117, the City of Alexandria leg of which force-landed Jun 22 at Crete, service resuming following day, arriving Karachi Jun 26, Delhi next day, thence surface to Australia. Unsurprisingly, the only recorded item Danzig to Australia from this incident. Auction estimate $1500.

          Figure 12. Candidate for listing in next edition Australian Air Mail Catalogue?

My collection contains a dozen or more major incident items unlisted in, but seemingly worthy of consideration for listing in AAMC. Editor, Tom Frommer, has kindly agreed to consider these upon presentation of the particulars. Figure 12 is a dramatic candidate for listing recognition, a 1936 (Apr 18) cover Paris to Sydney franked 6f for single airmail rate, carried Sabena OO-AIF postal plane which, on the Apr 21 night flight between Paris, Brussels and Koln, crashed and burned 40 kilometres from Le Bourget, near Senlis. The pilot and radio operator were killed in the incident, 48kgs of mail was on board. The mail which could be salvaged received repair attention and the handstruck "AVION ACCIDENTE", this also with manuscript notation (upper left on reverse), and Senlis Oise datestamp (Apr 22). In my opinion, one of the great "crash" covers to Australia, unique to that destination. Auction estimate $4000.

The collection will be available for inspection May 10-15 at the Phoenix Auctions Stand (Nº 194), just one more good reason to attend Australia 2013.

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.