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February 2000, Australasian STAMPS
Welcome To The
by Glen Stephens
I hope all readers had a peaceful and safe Festive Break. As many know, I was on a Russian icebreaker for New Year's Eve cruising within the Antarctic Peninsula, and indeed across the Antarctic circle, being literally the first person this century to do so. Quite an experience, and one N.Y.E. I will never forget. Now the MasterCard account has arrived I DEFINITELY will not forget it! I made a surprise Zodiac landing visit to a British Antarctic Territory base P.O. for New Years Day, and got superb cancels from 01/01/00! More complete details, and colour photos on the UNIQUE covers created is available HERE.
The stamp market here has been absolutely booming in recent months. I honestly feel a lot of it has to do with savvy collectors buying top end material NOW, avoiding paying 10% more in a few months time for the dreaded "GST". I had dinner just before I left with Richard Juzwin. Richard is so upbeat about the market, he has outbid all others to secure the prime advertising page in this magazine on the inner front cover, to highlight choice new material from stock each month.
Richard knows this truism above, which is why he has booked that page. I had a colour page ad last month, and nearly everything in it sold out within days. The monogram block I could have raffled - every main dealer and many collectors were after it. One collector bought three 2/- booklets for $20,000 and one of them was incomplete. That is a BIG trend in booklets. The serious collector pays nearly as much these days for part booklets that have ads and staples intact as a compete book would fetch. Stanley Gibbons Sydney saw a Fiji KGVI 5/9d booklet with only a few stamps inside it fetch over $2,000 in December. The dealer vendor was an oddball eccentric - it is rumored he tore out the rest of the stamps to make up definitive sets for stock!
$600 to $14,125 Kangaroo!
Another regular advertiser whose bank account PROVES that "Advertising in the ASM pays" is Michael Eastick. Our front cover story in November 1999 highlighted his 1913 10/- Kangaroo monogram that he thought may sell for $9,000 despite it changing hands from a dealer in the UK weeks earlier for only $600. The ACSC catalogue value was only $4,000. It sold for $14,125! Well over THREE times catalogue. And yes, it was hinged, not MUH.
Michael said there were half a dozen interested parties over $10,000. Now if THAT is not a sign of a buoyant market, I do not know what is. Fellow columnist Michael told me today - "I am delighted with the response we are getting from our ads. Choice material like this is setting record prices."
Another happy ASM advertiser is Philatelics (Australia) Pty Ltd. They took a full page ad in the same magazine. Not all our readers would know of this firm despite them running quality postal sales for 23 years. The star item of their catalogue was also a monogram piece. It was a block of 5/- Roos estimated to sell at $9.000, but it realised a whopping $16,500.
Director of the firm Steve Maharry was delighted. "We had a bidder place a top limit of double estimate, or $18,000 on this item. There were five bidders over $10,000. There were other superb items in this sale, including a 2/- brown monogram piece getting a whopping $4400. We had a stack of bids from your readers whom we had never heard of before, so were very pleased with the response, as the ad was only carried in your magazine" he concluded.
Their next Philatelics (Australia) Pty Ltd sale is being prepared now catalogues are FREE to ASM readers. Write for your copy to 303mPayneham road, Royston park. SA, 5070.
Scarce Postcard Useage Discovered
Well it is nice to know we have readers ALL over the world!! This column in November 1999 mentioned the great scarcity of some very common looking stamps when used alone on commercial mail pieces for their intended issued purpose.
Rodney Perry has been saying for years: "do NOT overlook apparently ordinary stamps on properly used commercial covers". Rods excellent ACSC publications have now placed a "commercial used" value alongside otherwise common looking stamps, that might surprise you. Future editions will surprise you more as many will rocket up from present figures.
I spoke to Rod Perry for that article and he said: "this area will a future outperformer in the market. To give you a good example, no collector or dealer I have spoken to has EVER sighted the 1952 4½d red KGVI used singly for the purpose it was actually introduced for, i.e. the pre-paying the postcard rate to foreign destinations. I suspect they largely went to Italy or Greece where much of our postwar migration emanated. If I were to auction one today a nice 3 figure sum would not surprise me at all" Rod concluded.
Well one "ASM" reader has read that article with interest and turned up one of those innocuous looking 4½d red stamps, correctly used on an overseas postcard. Martin Frischauf is a specialist collector of Australia who lives in Austria and subscribes by airmail. He sent me this clear scan by e-mail, with the following note. "I always read with interest your "Market Matters" articles in "Australasian STAMPS". I attach a scan of a postcard commercially used on September 17 th 1952 from Sydney to Austria, which has a violet Austrian censor marking at lower centre.
"I have collected commercially used covers of Australia 1901 to 1952 for more than 10 years - and I think I have checked thousands of postcards for this rare franking, but have found only this one example. I do have others paying the correct 4½d rate, but all with mixed frankings ( e.g. 4d + ½d ), and I hope to find a second copy in the future. And finally, I am sorry, but this card is not a "spare" copy or for sale - it is for my collection" he concluded.
The short 2 word greetings message on the postcard reads "Herzliche Grüße". Martin advises me this translates loosely as "Warm Greetings" or something in English like "Yours Sincerely". Not much of a message for your 4½d! Martin tells me he is still sorting through the treasure trove hoard of totally unsorted WWI era Australian stamps used on piece. These turned out to be untouched for 85 years, and were chanced upon at a large Italian stamp show.
You name it, he found it. 75 Kilos of wonders. A 1d Red KGV used block 4 with the "rusted clichés". A dozen or so ½d green single line perfs - one with monogram even including an unrecorded perf "OS" etc. There were about 70 1d red rare "Salmon Eosins", and all sorts of other unrecorded pieces, including a horde of totally unseen private perfins. The "Aladdins Cave" for the entire 1990s in Australian philately. A great story. And Martin is only about half way through looking so far!
(The original article on the 4½d cover mentioned our Associate Editor, Richard Breckon had been searching for a correct solo useage of this stamp for 10 years, so sorry, Richard, your hunt must go on!) Be advised though, these are the sort of things typically sitting in a dealers cover box for 20¢, unloved and unrecognised. Not for long! As a footnote, I wonder if Martin, or anyone else can advise WHEN censorship of mail ceased in Austria?? I was quite surprised to note it was still very much active in late 1952, some 7 years after the end of WWII.
Incredibly, on the SAME day that Martin emailed me this scan, I got another from Dr. William Mayo, an occasional contributor to "Australasian Stamps" and a booklet consultant to Stanley Gibbons catalogues. Bill is a world booklet expert, as well as one of the founding members of the Lord Howe Island Courier post. His excellent new book on the LHICP was reviewed in my column last month. We have a more detailed article on his background elsewhere this issue. Anyway, Bill has never thrown away one incoming mail item gathered from his more than 50 years of collecting stamps. He has steamer trunks full of amazing stuff I sighted when valuing his collection.
One item Bill Mayo has in that postal used collection is shown nearby. It is a postcard sent to him when he lived in the USA, and like Martins card, was also posted late 1952. The postcard is exhorting a subscription to "Walkabout" magazine, an early forerunner to something like todays "Australian Geographic". So, in one day, not one but TWO copies of solus postal use of this elusive postcard rate have been reported, based on that one "Market Matters" column. A usage that for almost 50 years had not been recorded by leading dealers and researchers and collectors.
GST and The Stamp Collector
This tax will be upon us in Australia very shortly. Collectors with a few dollars in the bank would be WELL advised to consider filling up a few expensive "gaps" in their collection, before they cost 10% more. Whether you buy your stamps from a dealer or auction, you generally look like paying 10% EXTRA for the same stamps over todays prices.
Forget about attempting to buy them overseas and praying the customs and tax men will not intercept them. There is to be a massive beefing up of surveillance at customs in Australia at mail centres. In Canada, not only is the "GST" and applicable "PST" or State Sales Tax levied on what they DEEM the value of the goods to be (often a figure far greater than you paid!) but via Canada Post they have the cheek to also whack you with a flat $5 "handling" fee that you need to pay on TOP of the tax!! THREE taxes on your packet of stamps. You think I am kidding I bet any number of our Canadian readers will ruefully back this up.
In the largest province of Ontario for instance, a $20 sending of stamps attracts a 7% GST and an 8% PST, making a 15% "HST" plus a flat $5 "collection" fee, and a lot of paperwork and total waste of everyones time and energy. Your cheap imported stamps are now $28.50 PLUS the postage cost from whomever sent them from overseas in the first place. Real good maths! I was in Banff Springs Canada just before Christmas, and these darn taxes are a pain in the you know where! On the hotel bills, on the cab or transfer to and from Hotel, or ski lift tickets, all meals, car hire etc. I posted a heavy $$50) parcel back to myself - the cost was GST exempt as it was an "export", of all bizarre rules! But posting WITHIN Canada requires the tax be paid.
Mount Lebanon gets $600,000
I have seldom seen a cruder "stamp" than the one illustrated nearby. It is printed from a block of wood, the grain of which shows clearly, and into which the words "Mt. Lebanon LA and 5(¢) were punched in with printers type. Thus you have a "mirror image" roughly printed in muddy brown. And affixed upside down on cover to boot! It is the only such "mirror image" stamp ever deliberately issued anywhere in the world apparently. Issued in 1861, and posted internally in Louisiana the 400 miles to New Orleans, it is the prince among confederate pieces.
This rare USA Confederate States Postmaster provisional was auctioned late 1999 in the USA by Robert Seigel, realising $US385,000 or about $A600,000. No other copies are recorded. What a market they have over there. Rare Australian or New Zealand "locals" generally struggle to get $1,000 or so.
Dozens more stamp columns HERE
Copyright © 2000 Glen Stephens. This article may NOT be reprinted or used without written permission from Glen Stephens. 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 colour 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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