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Early Start Led Dunkerley Straight Into Philatelic Career

By Glen Stephens

(Front cover story in Stamp Wholesaler, USA, July 1999)

Simon & Angela Dunkerly and Don White aboard the 'Polly Woodside' at AUSTRALIA 99
Left to right: Angela Dunkerley, Don White (Manager, Dunedin Stamp Centre), and Simon Dunkerley.
All aboard the "Polly Woodside" at "Australia 99" for Australia Post function, March 1999. (Photo by Glen Stephens)


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," Dunkerley recalled.

"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 collection."

"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 watermarks.

Fast forward to January 1977, when Dunkerley joined the stamp trade full time.

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 in Wales.

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 fiscals.

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 Catalogue” editor.

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.




VALE - Simon Dunkerley - 1959-2009

It was with great sadness I reported the unexpected passing of Simon Dunkerley on February 20th 2009.

Full details of that passing are here.  RIP.




All the superb articles my best friend in the stamp world, Simon Dunkerley published in “Stamp News” over many years have been rebuilt from the original files.  They are re-produced HERE in full, and for perpetuity, with the permission of “Stamp News”, and his widow Angela, and I hope current and future collectors thus gain from this man’s enormous philatelic knowledge.


Glen Stephens






These articles are all Copyright © 1999 Glen Stephens. They may NOT be reprinted or used without written permission. However, permission will be granted for virtually any reasonable useage purpose, providing full and correct attribution to the writer and magazine is given. Applicable scans from articles in black and white or color can also be arranged to be E-mailed to you.

Above is one of my Market Man "Tipster" columns published in the Australasian STAMPS Magazine.

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