By the age of
12, one young Melbourne junior school student was collecting shades and
varieties of Australian King George V 1d reds and ½d greens! With a head
start like that, it is no wonder Simon Dunkerley ended up following a
career in stamp dealing.
The late Fred Neufeld, exchange superintendent of Brighton Philatelic
Society, actually changed the society rules for receiving approval book
circuits by mail to help foster this young man's collection.
"The rules said no one under 18 could receive the books, and I was
only 12, but Fred took a shine to me and had the rules amended,"
"Now, 27 years later, I am still a member of that club. I'd like to
think other keen youngsters could find such a mentor as I had in Fred.”
"My introduction to the stamp trade saw me working after school for a
local dealer, soaking, sorting and packing stamps," he continued. "At
the ripe old age of 12, I was trusted to run that shop for a week! Paid
at the princely sum of 80¢ an hour, I was able to carefully add to my
"I soon became fascinated in the King George V head issues of Australia
and began to haunt the stamp shops several times a week, and I even
started attending stamp auctions. From that point onwards, I could see
that my future lay in the world of stamp hinges, perforations, and
Fast forward to January 1977, when Dunkerley joined the stamp trade full
He initially worked for the legendary firm of Robson Lowe in Melbourne,
under the guidance of Ray Kelly. He went on: "As auction describer, I
very quickly had to learn the ropes. I vividly recall my first morning,
when Ray handed me an important collection of NSW ‘Sydney View’ stamps."
"Having never ever before seen a Sydney View stamp, it was suddenly my
job to classify them by catalogue number, grade them by condition and
place a fair estimate on about 80 individual copies. I guess I learned
fairly quickly, as the stamps sold well, the vendor was happy, Ray was
happy and I was overjoyed at actually being paid to learn about stamps!"
Since those early days, Dunkerley has seen many thousands of "Sydney
Views" pass through his hands, including some spectacular copies he
bought from the legendary Dale Lichtenstein collection that was
auctioned in London by Harmers in 1990.
Those choice examples had sat in a New York bank vault for nearly 50
years and quickly found new homes.
In October of 1977, Dunkerley changed firms and began working for Rodney
A. Perry in Melbourne, who runs major public auctions and a strong
mail-order retail business. For the next 3½ years, coinciding with the
phenomenal boom in prices for stamp material worldwide, he worked as
purchasing and sales manager.
A major part of Dunkerley’s job was to fly to every Australian state and
inspect virtually every lot at every main auction. "The sheer volume
of the material I handled and viewed, from every corner of the world,
gave me a genuine understanding of relative scarcity, and condition
parameters," he recalled.
"This is something you can never learn from books. Working for
Australia's leading firm during that heady period was an invaluable
apprenticeship, the like of which few dealers anywhere in the world have
had the opportunity to experience."
In 1981, Dunkerley fulfilled a desire to study by completing a Bachelor
of Economics degree at Monash University. He then studied part-time for
two years towards an MBA at Melbourne University. At the same time, he
commenced his present career of dealing mail order from home.
This expanded to a full-time career in 1987, and for the past decade
Dunkerley produced a number of Private Treaty catalogues and Postal Bid
sales. The current lists are free for the asking to any overseas reader.
He accepts all major credit cards for payment, taking the hassle and
fees of out of bank drafts for overseas buyers.
Dunkerley keeps in touch with old and new clients by attending most
major stamp shows around Australia. In January 1998, he attended
‘Stampex’ in the United Kingdom as stand-holder for the first time.
In fact, he makes the gruelling 24-hour airline trip (each direction!)
to the U.K. regularly, most recently in early June to attend an auction
Dunkerley has also been a Philatelic Trader¹s Society of London member
for many years, and is supportive of the recent changes to PTS. Now aged
39, Dunkerley has been happily married to wife Angela for 14 years.
The couple have two children, a son (age 7) and a daughter (age 10).
Both Simon and Angela have a keen interest in helping others and are
involved as leaders in youth ministry with their local church group.
Dunkerley also gives a lot of his time to the promotion of stamps and
the industry. He has organized fairs around Australia and has served for
almost 10 years on the Australian Stamp Dealers Association federal
executive, including a term as President in 1992-93.
In addition to dealing, Dunkerley has exhibited his Western Australia
stamps at both the state and national level. At “Cuppex 87” in Perth, he
won a large silver award with an exhibit of Western Australia postal
He joined the Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria the moment he was old
enough (no 12-year-olds permitted in there, heaven forbid!) and has
since then displayed his collection, and been guest speaker.
For some years, Dunkerley has built a well respected "niche" business
specializing in error and variety stamps of Australasia. He is a major
price consultant to the “Australian Commonwealth Specialists
Modern errors like missing colours, imperforates and freaks have a
strong following among specialist collectors, and Dunkerley scours the
world trying to keep these items in stock.
One item he fondly recalls handling is the legendary Western Australia
1854 4d "Inverted Frame" which he sold in 1992 for $A60,000.
Dunkerley’ s tertiary background in economics and statistics has
assisted in another of his passions. He has created an extensive data
base on price changes of key Australasian and Australian Colonies
stamps, ranging back to 1960, using Stanley Gibbons catalogue values.
His research has been called upon by the well-known financial firm
Access Economics, which uses Dunkerley’s detailed indices to compare
stamp price movements in various categories along with other more
traditional yardsticks such as gold, real estate, taxi-cab plates, fine
art and so on.
Overseas readers will be interested to learn that in the last annual
survey, Australian missing color stamps (a basket of everything that is
listed by Gibbons) came out ninth best from the 21 categories involved.
They outperformed areas like international shares, bank bills,
industrial and rural land, Sydney and Brisbane and Melbourne house
prices, inflation, coins, diamonds, gold and thoroughbred horses.
This strong performance has been much the same over the past surveys.
Other sectors, such as postage dues, have also done especially well.