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Stamp News November 2003

                              Woodchip-free Zone

Dare to be philatelically different? Then covers might be for you

The eclectic selection of subjects under the spotlight this issue prompted the above suggestion. Regular readers will be familiar with the purpose of this column which is to promote an understanding of the everyday commercial usage of Australian stamps on cover; i.e. for the purpose for which the humble postage stamp was originally intended. For some of the many new readers of Stamp News the heading may at the least be enticing!

    Very common Australian stamps, such as the 1937 Queen Mother 1d, may nevertheless have considerable possibilities. Inspection of the ACSC reveals a listing of many specialists' items for this stamp beyond its basic mint and used derivatives. In keeping with many seemingly unlikely Australian stamps this issue could be developed in to a one-frame (15/16 pages) exhibit. Even a five-framer (75/80 pages) is not out of the question, although the usage of the stamp on cover would of course need to play an important role in content in achieving such a goal. Be it suitable for such a goal, or just as an interesting example of the use of the stamp, Figure 1 is that little bit different. Advertising covers are often an attractive
alternative, particularly when a very common stamp provides the sole franking. Here the cover advertises a specific event, the April 9 and 12, 1938, Adelaide appearance of the tenor, Dino Borgioli [I wonder if any reader recalls that name], and no doubt the cover (which is paid at the 1d Printed matter rate) once contained advertising material or perhaps tickets
relating to the event. Value : $35 (stamp off cover zero).

                                                                  Figure 1

    I have not featured a Postage due stamp cover in this column and it's probably time I did. Figure 2 is a 13 Nov 1959 Melbourne cover franked at 5d basic letter rate only, and the handstruck 'EXCEEDS' and manuscript '1 oz' markings tell us that the correct franking should have been 8d, this fact being further confirmed by the oval 'T6D' which represents the 3d deficiency plus a fine of 3d (so-called double-deficiency). In this instance 5d and 1d Postage due stamps have been affixed and the recipient of the article would normally be expected to pay 6d upon its delivery. The 5d is the scarcer No watermark Die II printing which is particularly scarce on cover. Value : $200 (stamps off cover $21).

                                                              Figure 2

    A favourite Australian stamp series of many collectors is the Navigators of late SD and early Decimal periods. Other than for the 40c Tasman and 50c Dampier, which are not too difficult to find on cover, these stamps are moderately scarce to even rare on cover or parcel label, another collectable format of commercial use, particularly for higher denomination stamps. Figure 3 shows 25 Jan 1974 use to U.S. of 75c Cook to meet triple base airmail rate of 25c for Zone 4 destinations, a logical use for this denomination although one which I have seldom encountered. Value : $60 (stamp off cover $1).

                                                                    Figure 3

    I have occasionally featured printed or handdrawn illustrated covers of WWII-period in this column and Figures 4 and 5 are further examples of the respective types of this popular material. The first is a printed cover by cartoonist, Clarrie King, from a series of nine different designs which I have recorded (there may be more). These appear to have been widely distributed and I have seen usages within Australia and by Servicemen abroad. This is a 1945 use from Morotai in the Dutch East Indies (the Field Post Office '027' datestamp tells us this). Value : $50 (stamps off cover, well, zero).
                                                         Figure 4

     The second subject is one of the more attractive of the numerous handdrawn wartime covers one encounters. This unusually is signed ('R. Newton') and was used at Kairi, Queensland, in 1944. It appears that the fleeing amphibian is the dreaded cane toad which one hopes was not intended for the stewing pot. Value : $75 (stamp off cover zero).

                                                       Figure 5

    Figure 6 shows unusual 24 Dec 1946 use of 3d Mitchell to a B.C.O.F. Serviceman at Kure, Japan. A concessional airmail rate of 3d remained in place after the end of WWII, and although this item is overpaid by d for the purpose it does not appear to me to be an obvious philatelic contrivance. Inwards B.C.O.F. mail is seldom encountered. I recently bought this item from an overseas dealer's website, and find the practise of seeking material via this revolutionary new medium both rewarding and relaxing. Adventurous philatelists are surely amongst the great beneficiaries of the internet phenomena, and if you are not already searching local and overseas dealer's websites for items for your collection
you surely are missing a wonderful opportunity. Value : $30 (stamp off cover 30c).

                                                      Figure 6

    The G.B. Machin 3p on cover shown in Figure 7 may appear beyond the scope of this column. It is however very relevant and I will soon explain why. Firstly however a brief 'plug' for the Machin series. This is a modern favourite of mine, commercially used on cover only of course! Aside from the handsome portrait of Her Majesty, the remarkable range of colours (which would do a Dulux colour chart proud), the extraordinary denominations (e.g.
1.33 and 1.41), it is the combination of availability and affordability in Australia which makes this an irresistable collecting subject for me. Back to our subject cover, this is the overseas equivalent of the concessional airmail rate for Servicemen (and women) which we have featured from time to time in this column (including Figure 6 this issue). In this instance we have a 24 Mar 1972 use by an RAAF Staff member in London to Australia for which the concessional rate was 3p only (9p being the regular airmail rate to Australia). The handstamped 'COMMONWEALTH PERSONNEL/TO THEIR HOMELAND' conveniently completes the story. I have found such items rather scarce and value this cover at $25 (stamp off cover zero).

                                                            Figure 7

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.