27, 2006. (Front page feature story)
Ugly used 6d Blue Kangaroo sells for $48,500
An otherwise common, and rather unattractive looking Australian stamp has just been sold for $A48,500 - or approximately $US35,825.
The stamp is a 1915 6d blue Kangaroo and Map issue, Scott 40. In normal used condition this stamp is cataloged at $24.
This new discovery has an inverted watermark. This record price is the highest ever obtained for an Australian watermark error, on any stamp issue from any era.
Scott Publishing Company does not list or price inverted watermarks on Australian stamps.
US readers should carefully check their early Australian issues as prices for these watermark errors are booming "down under" however stateside dealers often do not price them any higher than normals.
The record price stamp has an unattractive vertical parcel post machine cancellation.
The "Australian Commonwealth Specialists' Catalogue" (ACSC) states that 3 copies are reported to have existed of this error.
One of those three stamps is in the Royal Collection in London. It is therefore not available to collectors.
The other two examples were noted in philatelic literature in the 1930s and 1940s but they have not been recorded or sighted since.
It is understood this example may be one of those two stamps. After this time span, the survival of the third copy is doubted by specialists.
No example of this watermark error is recorded as being offered for sale in Australia or elsewhere for at least 60 years.
The stamp was sold February 9 by Melbourne Australian dealer Michael Eastick via his website.
Eastick is President of the Australasian Philatelic Trader's Association, and is a member of the ASDA in New York. He has a booth at "Washington 2006".
Eastick told me today: "I was given the stamp to sell by a long term customer. He was very concerned by the high level of fees currently charged by Australian auction houses.
"I found him on overseas buyer who specialises in this era. It is a shame this rare stamp needs to be exported, but the demand for top end Australian stamps is truly global" he concluded.
Although Scott do not list or price Australian watermark errors, some other foreign catalogs such as Stanley Gibbons certainly do. This stamp is Stanley Gibbons 26w with a catalog value of £7,000.
The just released and updated ACSC "Kangaroos" volume lists it as BW 18a at $A25,000. As recently as 1992 it was cataloged at just $A85.
The recent sale price is 580 times the full ACSC catalog value in 1992.
Many Australian Kangaroos and King George V head watermark errors are selling for multiples of even the current high catalog prices.
In my "Stamp News" monthly column in January 2006 I reported offering a client $A12,000 for an inverted watermark average used copy of the King George V 2d orange (Scott 27) despite a current ACSC value of only $A3,500.
The collector changed his mind at the last moment, consigned it to auction and eventually received some $3,000 less than my firm cash offer.
That article illustration reminded a reader he had one or two copies with the same small town goldfields cancel, and when he checked one of them also had an inverted watermark - never before noticed until reading the magazine.
That example is easily the finest of the 6 reported copies, and I sold it on his behalf last week for a 5 figure sum.
Several other Australian Kangaroo and King George V head inverted watermark stamps are also recorded with just one or two copies known, and have high Stanley Gibbons catalog valuations in the £7,000 and higher region.
Most are stamps otherwise worth only a few cents in normal upright watermark. The 2d orange mentioned above is valued at just 25¢ in used condition by Scott.
Some stamps such as the 1923 6d brown Kangaroo (Scott 49) are unique with inverted watermark. That stamp was sold recently for a price much less than $A48,500.
A leading dealer told me that same stamp could well bring 6 figures if offered in the present market.
An even more desirable watermark error is the 1918 5/- Kangaroo (Scott 54) with sideways watermark. Only one copy is recorded.
Many experienced dealers except this stamp would sell for over $100,000 if offered in today's market. In 1992 the ACSC catalog price was just $A1,500.
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