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 February 2000, Australasian STAMPS

Solomon Islands 1987 America’s Cup UNIQUE Miniature Sheet
with losing “KOOKABURRA III” Yacht image.

As told to Elizabeth Polley


The normal issued Souvenir 1988 America’s Cup Miniature Sheet with “Stars And Stripes” - the actual race winner. Retail $5.

Solomon Islands 1987 America’s Cup UNIQUE Miniature Sheet, with losing “KOOKABURRA III” Yacht image.


Solomon Islands 1987 America’s Cup UNIQUE Miniature Sheet, with losing “KOOKABURRA III” Yacht image.

  I suspect all our readers enjoy fossicking in folders and boxes and cartons of philatelic odds and sods and jumbled up mish-mashes of material assembled by another collector. We all have a “magpie” streak in us somewhere!

Collectors do this for fun. Dealers in most cases do it for a living. And some of the finds are quite impressive. Regular “ Australasian Stamps ” advertiser Glen Stephens from Sydney had one such dazzling find during December 1999.

Glen tells the rest of the story. “I was clearing up the house for my relatives who were moving in to mind the place whilst I was away overseas in Antarctica and South America. (See detailed report of this exciting visit and the unique covers created HERE.)

“I buy a vast amount of material from the general public. Not only from my ads in this magazine, but also the ads in Yellow Pages, and suburban and country sources, as well as the buying section on my internet website.

“Much of it is posted in, Registered mail. My method is simple. Sell the key pieces fast, and the medium pieces soon afterwards. What is left then usually “owes” me ZIP. Whatever I get for the left over carton or two is then profit. Often material is bought or posted over by relatives clearing an Estate. This is always a real magical mystery tour, as you know NOTHING about any unusual items. The owner often leaves no notation as to WHY he had the stamp saved.

“Often one finds inverted and sideways watermark Kangaroos and similar items, known as errors to their owner, but are not noted in any way to any other observer. The owner dies, and the actual reason the stamp is mounted there is lost as well, unless annotated.

“I was in a frantic panic to clean up my messy offices before flying out this December. Material purchased during this year, indeed often in previous years was tossed into vaguely sensible lots, and typed into ads. One item caught my eye, that was mixed in among a fairly basic collection of Pacific islands stamps.

“The item in question is the Solomon Islands 1987 “Americas Cup” $5 souvenir sheet. There was nothing really unusual in that. It is Stanley Gibbons #575 and catalogues only £3.75 in mint. The thing that caught my eye was that here were TWO $5 mini sheets on the page, and both of them depicted different yachts!

“The answer did not take too long to find. Again looking at the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, the footnote after #575 says “similar miniature sheets showing the yacht ‘Kookaburra III’ were prepared, but destroyed once the results of the cup races were known. It is believed that at least one example of the unissued miniature sheet has survived.“



“Stars and Stripes”

Cover of the February 2000 issue of market leader “Australasian STAMPS” magazine, announces the discovery.

  “This seems to be the case. I have TWO Different $5 sheets on my desk, one showing Kevin Parry’s yacht “Kookaburra III” and the other more familiar version depicting the yacht “Stars And Stripes”, which was skippered by Dennis Connor.

“So, here we are 13 years after the issue date and Gibbons notes only a single example existing. There are precious few Commonwealth items post war that are unique. I was the finder of another such unique item in 1990.

“The issue is the 1977 "70 FNH" overprint on the 2 Franc Palm Lorikeet Bird, issued by the French New Hebrides. The stamp has a very pronounced double overprint. The new value "70 FNH" is entirely doubled, as are the four obliterating bars at the top left.

“The stamp was first discovered by me in 1991 in another “junk” type collection. It had not been recorded in the 15 years since issue. It was sent to the Royal Philatelic Society in London for an opinion. After extensive and lengthy consultation with other bodies, the RPSL issued a Certificate of Genuineness for this stamp. It simply says: "variety - surcharge doubled - unused, is genuine".


The cover of the February 2000 issue of Australasian
STAMPS, shown above, displays the
contrasting souvenir sheets.


  “Stanley Gibbons catalogued this error, based on that certificate, as SG F#243a. No price is given, as it has changed hands only once in 23 years. This new discovery received worldwide publicity in early 1992. Leading magazines in Australia, United Kingdom and France ran photo stories reporting the discovery. "Linn's Stamp News" ran a photo article on January 13, 1992.

“Despite this international publicity, no other copy was reported as existing. I sold the stamp sold for $A5,000 in 1992 to a doctor in Western Australia who collects specialised New Hebrides.

“This owner offered the stamp for sale by Stanley Gibbons Sydney, about 2 years ago, and as I recall the estimate was a hefty $7,000.

“I do not have any real idea what this new “America’s Cup” discovery is worth, as these items are hard to value. Being a “Ship” topical, one of the most popular, will help it, and being an America’s Cup stamp will clearly have some appeal to our friends across the Pacific Ocean. I’m sure I will have someone asking after it, and if they have a few 1000 millennium bucks to spare, it is all theirs.

“With Dennis Connor and the same yacht “Stars and Stripes” being in the news in January in the sail-off for the right to challenge for the next America’s Cup in New Zealand, this discovery could not have appeared at a more opportune time.

“The moral of the story seems to be…NEVER assume modern stamps are common and valueless. There may well be other copies of this error lurking out there, although the history of this one I guess passed on with its previous owner. I’d be interested to hear if anyone knows more about this issue.

“A colleague who was in Western Australia for the sail-off in 1987 recalls the Solomon Island Post Office took an “each way” bet and prepared full print runs on BOTH the Yachts involved in the final sail-off, and then destroyed the stamp design of the losing yacht under strict security.

“This sounds plausible, as it allowed the “Winner” $5 stamp sheet to go on sale at Fremantle, via the Solomon P.O. Bureau sales booth there. This would have obtained a lot of impulse tourist sales, being on sale on the actual day of the winning race. Maybe one of the ‘error’ copies somehow got mixed up in that stock’, Glen concluded.

I am sure some readers out there know more of this saga...lets hear it!


Update from 2020 - after 20 years from the article above, and 32 years since issue date, this wrong inscription America’s Cup Stamp Mini Sheet has ended up in my hands once again.  It is listed on my Rarity Page - Stock number 683HQ.  Please contact me if you want to own something UNIQUE at a most affordable price!  VERY few Pacific Island pieces post WW2 exist in UNIQUE form.   Glen

Dozens more stamp columns HERE


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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Most 4 figure items like these on this page only appear at Public Stamp Auction.  You THEN need to pay 15-20% extra on top of the hammer price - for the nasty, nasty "Buyer Commission".  As well the associated GST taxes then added to that commission, and then GST added on the postage and handling and insurance etc.  AND then often another 3% on top of all that, to use a credit card like Amex or Diners!  So your invoice can often be 25%-30% MORE than you bid, if you pay by cards.

These commissions pay for the MASSIVE overhead of the auctions. Their dozen or so staff, Director Fees, fancy rented buildings, Deluxe catalogues, and $2,000 a page full colour ads in magazines all around the globe etc.  I have none of this overhead.  I work on my own - from home.  No rent, no staff, no fancy catalogues or $2000 ads. Just fast turnover and low prices, and a “done on the CHEAP” old-school website as you can see!

All prices on this page are nett - NO extra taxes or commissions are added to the price.  KNOW in advance what you are up for!  And I NEVER charge buyers extra for using their credit cards.  NEVER.  That is absurd, insulting, and pure gouging, but the world’s leading auction houses seem to all hate Amex cards, as you will doubtless realise. Use them FEE FREE for my offers.

In my near 40 years full time selling stamps, I have hardly auctioned one stamp.  I do not believe in it.  My huge website, due to clever links and marketing, gets far more visitors than most large local auctions, and always has.  Coming up to FORTY MILLION visitors is living testament to that.  I am pleased to sell direct - at fair sensible prices, so you know EXACTLY where you stand. You buy direct off me, and YOU the customer get the savings.

And as many of my clients are overseas, remember EVERY price here is in AUSTRALIAN dollars.  Go check how cheap these "Pacific Peso" prices really are on:  And most importantly, the way I ship, you generally avoid the nasty UK 20% VAT - and the similar European and NZ and Canada import and GST taxes etc.

As with ALL my sales, payment is tailored to suit YOU.  If you see something for $A1,000 that will mean a divorce case if you buy it outright, I am happy to do a “Lay-By” or layaway.  I can debit your credit card 4 debits of $A250 or whatever suits. There is NO price penalty whatever for you to use this system - even if you use credit cards. Just let me know what suits.  Happy reading!  Glen 

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ALL prices are in weak Ozzie Dollars. I charge NO nasty, nasty
"Buyer's Commission" on stamps like nearly every "Auction" does.