Figure 2. Unassuming rarity
The only examples of usage of the 1962 Malaria 2/- I had noted are a pair and a block of four (!) on separate covers with other stamps, from the legendary Lawson correspondence. eBay to the rescue, and the first solo franking has finally turned up, a 5 Jun 1962 use Rabaul to U.S., paying 2/- ½oz. airmail rate. Figure 2 is that unassuming item. Value : $150
Figure 3. Drab in colour only
In the June 2006 column, I featured the early photogravure stamps of PNG, including the 1965 Canoe Prows 1/6d and 4/-. The Lawson correspondence did not contain the 1/2d, and until Figure 3 turned up, again on eBay, I had not seen that denomination on any form of commercial postal article. This item is a bottler, being a 26 Jun 1965 solo use for 1/2d airmail postcard rate to U.K., the primary purpose for its issue. Items such as this are, to me, an absolute joy to own. Value : $200
Figure 4. Budgies beware
Concluding the PNG quartet, all of which are eBay wins by the way, is Figure 4, the striking 1974 30c Tarangau (Kapul Eagle), as a solo franking 12 Nov 1974 Konedobu to Sweden, for ½oz. airmail rate. I had not a solitary example of usage of this stamp, so again a primary purpose use was very welcome. It flew in at a total cost of US$8.75, or less than the $9.00 retail for a common mint set; just one of those inexplicable things which make Philately so enjoyable a pursuit. Incidentally, if you relish a little philatelic cross pollinating in your collecting, you really must get on eBay if you're not already participating as a buyer. The average of two hours a week I spend trawling on eBay is one of the truly fun episodes in my philatelic life, producing many hundreds of items, emanating from scores of places around the globe, and enriching and adding diversity to my collections.
Figure 5. One of two Solomon's 4½d solo frankings seen
On to Solomon Islands now, or British Solomon Islands as they then were; the only other time that country has featured in this column was in December 2004, when I focused on the first QEII Pictorials set. The KGVI Pictorials are the subject on this occasion, and as I don't have a 10/- usage item, we'll regard this as just an introduction to this charming series. I do have a couple of examples of the elusive 4½d denomination, however, which was withdrawn early in its life. Rather pleasantly, both are solo frankings, shown as Figures 5 and 6. The first is a 7 Jun 1939 use to Sydney from the tiny P.O. of Vanikoro. It paid triple 1½d British Empire rate.
Figure 6. The other
The Figure 6 solo use of the 4½d was registered from Tulagi on 20 Nov 1939 to British Columbia, paying 1½d British Empire rate + 3d registration fee. Another eBay win, I paid quite a high price at the time, not outbidding another Solomon's collector however. I subsequently learnt, from the underbidder, that the backstampings have amongst them a scarce Canadian datestamp! In the days when eBay allowed the world to know who was bidding, I was contacted by that underbidder, who was attempting to buy this item as a surprise for her husband. I felt a bit of a heel in not acceding to her request. For the sake of the exercise, I'll value the two 4½d items at $250 each. I suspect they would fetch more if offered at public auction, given these are the only two usages I've encountered in over 20 years.
Figure 7. One wonders does DJ's have mail order clients in Solomon's nowadays?
The venerable firm of David Jones had at least one mail order client in the Solomon's in 1955, at Honiara. The convenient self-addressed envelope shown in Figure 7 has printed on reverse "BEFORE YOU SEAL THIS/Is your remittance enclosed?" I've seen quite a few of these covers over the years, also from other parts of Australasia; there must have been a cover collector in DJ's mail room! An attractive composition for the 1/2d ½oz. airmail rate to Australia. Value : $30
Figure 8. Secret Bank account?
The second "Bank" fashioned envelope featured this month (see Figure 1), black also a key element in a striking design for the 1/-, don't you think? Again from Honiara, on 4 Jan 1955, Figure 8 is a more typical composition for the 1/2d airmail rate. Interesting to speculate why Fairymead Sugar Co Ltd of Bundaberg would have a bank account in Solomon's? Value : $25
Figure 9. Swiss meticulous treatment of incoming mail
Figure 9 shows to good effect why this series is a charming subject for a usage study; it would be an excellent subject for a one-frame exhibit, although one would need better luck than I've had in obtaining a 10/-! This lovely composition for the 2/6d ½oz. airmail rate to Switzerland, sent via Honiara 8 Sep 1952, has the Swiss "killer" wavy-lines obliterator utilized to cancel the hitherto uncancelled ½d and 2½d (it was cancelled at Honiara, but apparently too lightly for meticulous Swiss Postal inspector). This cover originated at a plantation near Renard Airstrip,Yandina, and was serviced at Honiara in transit. Value : $150
Figure 10. Attractive quartet
A nice composition in Figure 10 for 3/5d ½oz. airmail to U.S., including 2/6d which is elusive on cover, from Honiara on 9 Jun 1954. Mr Chariott at the General Chevrolet Co one would expect must have come in for some ribbing over that name in his workplace. Value : $150
Figure 11. A challenge out of left field
Not from the KGVI series, but from Solomon's nevertheless, I couldn't resist including Figure 11, spotted whilst I was selecting the other subjects. Aside from being a scarce franking, and a multiple at that (for triple 1/3d ½oz. airmail to Australia), the Freedom from Hunger 1/3d is one of but 77 stamps in this Omnibus series. What a superb challenge to set about finding a commercial cover/card for every British Empire country which participated in the series? Get on eBay and get started, you've no time to lose. Value : $30
Figure 12. Another from left field
To finish off this month, another challenge. Still in the Pacific, New Caledonia from 1928 to 1940 issued a series of three stamp designs, in denominations from 1c through to 20f, which form a definitive series of 42 in total! Some of the colour combinations (all are bicoloured save one!) are wonderful, as are the designs and often unusual denominations. Figure 12 shows the 10f and 2f 50 (the solitary monocolour of the series), Navigators no less for topical collectors, sent Noumea to Sydney 26 Sep 1941 by Pan American Clipper Flight 32, opened by Censor in New Caledonia. What a great series for an eight-frame usage exhibit. Besides, it's French. Value : $40
Next month I'm featuring Australia's 1970s Paintings series, courtesy largely of two recent eBay wins of the elusive $10 denomination