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Stamp News  September 2012 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 


Covers, fully loaded


Whilst conducting research for this month's column, I happened to visit eBay (U.S. site). There I noted on the day I visited 10,543 stamps under "Australian States" (which curiously includes Antarctica!), and 2,222 for "Kangaroos" (many of which were not). Rarely in one place have I seen so many philatelic items which I would not want to call my own?

Unattractive, fifth rate items abounded (I was going to use pestilence-ridden, and I suppose I just have). Suffice to conclude, most of the stamps in the above categories I inspected on-line I would decline if offered to me gratis. I have no doubt a dedicated specialist would locate the odd gem amongst what was on offer, and indeed I also have found many interesting covers/stationery in the chaff. I hasten to add many of the lots I inspected had bids, often in multiples.

A readily available stamp (as were most stamps on offer) in unattractive condition is not something I aspire to own. Less than perfect condition in the world of covers, however, can have much to recommend it.

Figures 3 to 10 are examples of where seemingly "bad" condition can in fact be very "good". More on that apparent paradox under the respective items. Firstly, however, a couple of items which came out of the same tub as the main subjects, that tub inscribed "Instructional and Informative markings" in my storage facility.

                                        Figure 1. Late posting expensive in 1915

The stamps utilized in the covers presented this month are generally common in themselves; of little or no commercial value. It is what their presence on cover in association with supporting factors introduces to separate them from the mundane. Serious specialists seek out unusual usages to distinguish their collection from others, and the inclusion of Postal history elements amongst one's collection can achieve that outcome in spades.

Figure 1 is a nice usage item for the specialist in KGV d in particular. An early (1 Jun 1915) use of a strip of four in the attractive emerald shade, the sender posted from Melbourne to Sydney too late in the day for inclusion of the article in that day's dispatch. Only paying double the regular 1d postage would ensure that inclusion. The nice "LATE FEE/4 15P- 1JE15/MELBOURNE VIC." datestamp enlightens us as to what occurred. Valuation : $100

                                                  Figure 2. Handstamp beauty

Australia's second QEII series, 1955-57, with denominations of 4d, 7d, 10d, 1/0d and 1/7d, is a very affordable subject for a usage study. Most collectors undertaking such a subject would be delighted to include Figure 2, an eye-catching use of a 4d from Booklet pane. Sent from Rutherglen to Wodonga, the cover somehow visited Mount Beauty, well to the south of those places. The last mentioned devised an apparently locally fashioned "MISSENT TO/MT.BEAUTY" handstamp, which the P.O. applied as required. I don't recall seeing such a striking "missent" marking from elsewhere. Valuation : $50

                                                Figure 3. Is damaged, is good

Figure 3 is the first of the eight "when bad is good" items. Featuring two of the more popular usage subjects, the 1978-80 Birds, and 1974-79 Paintings, this 7 Jul 1981 registered cover Kerrimuir to Canberra could rest comfortably in a usage collection of either topic; $2.60 represents 40c non-standard surface mail (50-100gms) + $2.20 registration fee. It's the handstamped "RECEIVED IN DAMAGED CONDITION/P.O./CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600/Int . . . Date . . .", a rarely seen informative marking, which separates this item from the more usual. Valuation : $60

                                         Figure 4. Security post with added zing

I doubt anyone mourned the demise of the expensive Security post service. It did, however, provide us with a good source of higher denomination frankings, such as Figure 4. From Christies Beach to Canberra (same addressee as previous item) on 11 Dec 1986, the franking comprises popular 1984-88 Marine life and later series Paintings $5, the aggregate $5.75 representing 75c non-standard Interstate surface mail (50-100gms) + $5.00 Security post fee. Again receiving some bumps and bruises in transit, the article was repaired by P.O., which added rare "DAMAGED" handstamp, on this occasion at Queen Victoria Terrace. Valuation : $60

                           Figure 5. When "philatelic" can be commercial

Covers to philatelic traders generally are not amongst the more desirable items for usage/postal history buffs. Figure 5, most would agree, is an exception. Posted in a letter receiver at Hunter's Hill, destined for Brisbane, on or about 4 Nov 1968, the article came in to contact with fire, possibly from a cigarette butt deposited in the letter receiver. The cover was cancelled by rare handstamped rectangular "DISTRICT MANAGER/- 4 NOV 1968/METROPOLITAN No. 2/GLADESVILLE, N.S.W. 2111" datestamp, and the cover was sent onwards to addressee, probably originally in a covering article (so-called "ambulance" cover) together with explanatory letter from PMG's Dept. Great item for Decimal usage and/or Postal history collector. Valuation : $150

                            Figure 6. Uncommon franking, with a little extra dab

In usage collections I've often commented on how I like to include the subject stamp issue employed for a specific uprate purpose. So it is with Figure 6, where 1940 A.I.F. 3d has been included in franking specifically to pay 3d registration rate. The 3d is mostly found as a solo franking on Foreign letters, and aside from this registration uprate, can occasionally be found uprating 2d letter rate covers for 3d internal airmail service surcharge. The front of cover somehow was torn, possibly during processing at P.O. for it has been repaired with stamp selvedge, endorsed "Accidently/torn (initial)", and tied by Uralla departure office cds of 13 Sep 1940. A nice little element of added interest. Valuation : $50

                             Figure 7. Apparently handy for wiping the P.O. floor?

I can see that "pestilence-ridden" comment above coming back to bite me in respect of Figure 7. Only a Postal history buff could love it. The severe staining has occurred after the stamp was affixed, so a misadventure has taken place once the cover was placed in letter receiver. I suspect this item could have an interesting story to tell; there is a pin impact point at upper left, suggesting an attachment explaining the trauma may have originally been affixed. We'll probably never know (unless a sleuth checks internet for possible reporting of a suitable incident in Sydney newspapers on or about 4 Oct 1932). We do, however, have a rare informative label apologizing to recipient for damage in the post. Great P.H. item or dramatic inclusion in a KGV usage study. Valuation : $200

                        Figure 8. Nice item for first zoological series usage study

The Zoological series which commenced in 1937 is rightly a popular usage study amongst specialists. There are many unusual usages to be found by the diligent, and I've seen some very interesting collections presently under construction. Figure 8 would find a place in any collection of this subject. A registered cover from Ipswich sent on 18 Jun 1940 to Brisbane, the staff at G.P.O. apparently didn't like the state of the envelope when received, and went to the trouble of affixing the gummed sealing label inscribed "THIS ARTICLE WAS/NOT PACKED/SECURELY . . .", tied by signature. This is a rare P.O. label, enhancing greatly the impact this item has in an exhibit. Valuation : $75

            Figure 9. Posting liquid probably not recommended in P.O. Handbook

A thoroughly detailed P.O. handstamp such as that shown in Figure 9 is both unusual and rare. Posted at Adelaide 24 Jul 1992, to a G.P.O. box, the cover is stained and has received P.O. repair to trauma suffered lower left. The handstamp "THIS ARTICLE WAS DAMAGED/BY LIQUID WHICH ESCAPED/FROM ANOTHER ARTICLE." leaves me with little to add. Great P.H. or dramatic usage item for the Threatened Species series, and excellent example of why removing stamps from covers can be an opportunity lost. Valuation : $75

                                       Figure 10. Addressee not guilty

Not often I'm involved in living Postal history, so Figure 10 has a special place in my P.O. "misadventures" exhibit. The full package, it came with an "ambulance" cover, explanatory letter, the whole contained in a plastic cover, given the fragmentary nature of the contents. Someone had apparently set fire to a street posting box in Ballarat on or about 28 March 1995, a timeframe for which I have an alibi placing me elsewhere. Valuation : "Priceless"

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.