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       April 2005




     New ACSC '1901-1912' era Catalogue



                           An essential catalogue

I have typed this before, but it is true.  Australia has THE best and most detailed stamp catalogues of any country on earth in my view.  No-one else comes close.

The  'Australian Commonwealth Specialists' Catalogue' (ACSC) edited by Dr. Geoff Kellow leads the world. Germany, the UK and the USA produce nothing even remotely close.  That would surprise many readers I am sure.

The 'Stanley Gibbons GB Specialised' multi volume set is a very sick joke in comparison.  That lacks any kind of notes whatever as to numbers extant of errors and varieties, or numbers sold or produced of the basic stamp in most cases.  Much other essential detail and constant varieties are also totally lacking.

Even worse is the Scott 'Specialised'  USA which is a quite pathetic single volume that purports to cover all USA issues from 1847 in specialised form.  Like the SG Great Britain 'Specialised' virtually no detail whatever is given by Scott as to numbers known of key pieces, and details about them.


And even the Michel German Specialised is nowhere remotely near as detailed as the ACSC.  And what detailed info there is written in technical German.  I once asked fellow Sydney dealer Manfred Junge to translate a footnote in Michel for me.  Manfred was born and raised in Germany until an adult, and obviously speaks fluent German.


Manfred simply did not have a clue what much of it said, as it was using technical language and terminology that he simply could not translate.  So for the rest of us, reading Michel Specialised is a non starter.

                                                               New ACSC now issued

The ninth and final ACSC volume has been published.  You MUST buy a set if you sell or collect early Australian Commonwealth stamps.  Volume 9, 'Kangaroos and The Early Federal Period, 1901-12'  is a whopping 548 pages.  An opus work.  The largest of the series so far.


This really should be volume 10 I think, and might have been 2 separate books, as the 'Kangaroos' as a stand alone volume seemed to make excellent sense.  As does ‘1901-1912’ as a separate 400 page volume.

I offered clients a special '$100 off' offer recently on the full set 9 volumes for $550 and they sold very well.  I hope lots of collectors and dealers support this superb undertaking, and secure a set from their favourite dealer today - or at least get this new edition.


'Kangaroos and The Early Federal Period, 1901-12'  includes the first ever specialised listing of the 1901-12 States issues.  Also listed are many essays and proofs.  The Kangaroo issues section is completely revised, with details of numbers printed and dramatic upward price adjustments, based on recent market realisations.


This catalogue has been coming 'any day soon' for very many months.  Due to the huge size I understand the printer at the last moment advised against 'perfect' binding it (i.e. pages cut flat and glued to the spine.)  It was printed in folded sections, and then glue bound.


This makes for a far more robust catalogue when handled regularly - as mine will be!  'Perfect binding' is not a great idea on thick catalogues.  Often the single pages free themselves from the spine and simply fall out.


These catalogues are not cheap - $110 for the bound version and $125 for loose leaf, so getting long life is important.  The value is there - finding just ONE decent 'States' stamp - Specimen overprint,  CTO issue, watermark variation, printing error or monogram piece etc will readily repay that outlay.  All leading dealers have stock of this new catalogue.


This actually is the FOURTH separate Edition of the ‘Kangaroos’ catalogue since 1993, and is the first to have the 1901-1912 'States' stamps included and listed.


If you have an earlier edition of the 'Kangaroos' Catalogue  - just toss it away - the often massive price rises and new information in here makes the old ones totally redundant.


The inclusion of the 1901-12 issues will create a boom market for this era, and most of this info has never been available in catalogues before.


Background to the era.


As is generally known, Australia became a 'Commonwealth' on January 1, 1901 - the month Queen Victoria died.  For postal arrangements, the amalgamation of the six different state Post and Telegraph services was required.  This occurred on March 1, 1901. 


That date can be regarded as the date after which any stamps issued, were done so by the Australian Commonwealth Postmaster-General's Department. 


However,  the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 was not enacted into law until November 1, 1901.  Interestingly enough Colonial stamps were never demonetised, and most continued to be valid for use (in any State) after 1901 - indeed were fully legal on any mail until 1968.  Many collectors and dealers used them for normal mail to other collectors as low values were very inexpensive. 


For near a century 'Australian' stamp issues have been regarded as those commencing with the Kangaroo and Map series in 1913.  This catalogue (correctly) broadly defines them as any stamps issued since 1901.


Some of these state new 'issues' are perforation or watermark amendments of pre-existing designs, but of course there were also a large number of totally new designs issued after 1901.


LONNNG live the Queen!


Curiously, despite Queen Victoria dying in January 1901, nearly all stamps on sale across Australia until the Kangaroo series was issued in 1913 featured her image - which itself was over 70 years old.  I have NEVER understood why the next 2 monarchs were not depicted on the letter-rate stamps.


A person licking a 1d or 2d Queen Victoria stamp onto every letter they mailed for 12 years after she had died, as there was no other design choice, seems incredibly bizarre.  If you lived in Victoria or Queensland or South Australia, that was your only option.


    Issued 4 years after the Queen died.  





Entirely new designs issued well after her death depicted QV - and not the reigning monarchs King Edward VII or later King George V.  The Western Australia 2/6 to £1 quartet were first issued latter 1902 - and all depicted QV despite her dying nearly 2 years earlier.   As were the South Australia vertical 'Postage' series issued late 1902.  The 'Thick' postage new design was not issued until 1904.  All depicted Queen Victoria.


This £1 orange shade Western Australia top value was not issued until mid 1905.   Why they did not use King Edward VII's portrait is a mystery to me.  This FU 1905 dated example illustrated nearby was from the March 19th Prestige Philately Auction. 


The youthful image of Queen Victoria is about 65 years old - looking very much like the same portrait used on the 1840 GB 'Penny Black'.   Who said women were vain about their photos?!


King Edward VII's Coronation was 9th August 1902.  Other than the well known Victoria state £1 and £2 high values, he was not depicted on any other state's postage stamps.  (But curiously, was depicted on many Queensland, NSW and South Australia duty stamps!)  


There were certainly a number of KEVII finished design essays in existence  (as this new ACSC shows, illustrates and prices) with the KEVII portrait, from at least 3 states, but none progressed into issued postage stamps.  The South Australian one recorded as ACSC (E20a) was in fact the design basis for that state's 1902 Duty Stamp series to £10 - or so it appears to me anyway.


Interestingly, the £1 state of Victoria first printing KEVII high value (illustrated nearby) was issued in November 1901, eight months BEFORE his Coronation.  They were only issued as Victoria urgently HAD to have high value 'postage' stamps above 5/- for parcel and telegraph use as the 'Stamp Statute' and 'Stamp Duty' high value issues were demonetised for postal use on June 30, 1901.


So very clearly new designs COULD be created, engraved, approved and printed with quite commendable speed back then - if the PO wished to act.   Victoria and Tasmania both also issued KEVII postal stationary.  KEVII died in May 1910.  The 'Commonwealth Stamp Design Competition' was not announced until 1911.


   The King turns GREEN   



The £1 KEVII Emerald Green colour trial/plate proof illustrated nearby sold for $A11,650 at Gary Watson's rarity auction in 2004.  That was comfortably in advance of the new ACSC catalogue value of $10,000.


The oft-given argument that 'cost' was an object to issue a new design is totally spurious.  The Australian States had discovered around this exact time that new and interesting stamp designs were popular - and highly profitable from the ensuing collector revenue. 


The 1897 and 1900 large sized 'Charity' issues from 3 different states all quickly sold out. The 1900 Queensland charity pair had only 6,500 sets printed, so it was clearly economical to print even that small a number and make money.


Countries such as Canada and the USA with their obscenely high value sets to $5 in the late 1890s paved the way for the excesses we know too well today.  Those sets cost many weeks gross wages for a working man back then, and made an absolute fortune for their respective Post Offices.


No KGV portrait stamps


Even more curious was the Coronation of King George V on 22 June 1911 - and not one adhesive stamp was issued celebrating the accession or reign of this very popular King from any of the Australian states. 


KGV was an incredibly keen stamp collector - a fact well known one feels certain, to all colonial Postmasters General.   KEVII died in May 1910, so that was the time to work on a new series of KGV designs. 


Australia certainly issued a range of 'Commonwealth Of Australia' inscribed postal stationary in 1911 depicting the new King in an attractive series.  Lettercards and postcards abounded.  The 1911 postcards in fact were in a rather vast collectible array featuring various Royals, design variations, even colour variations, and are termed the 'Coronation' series.  A compete collection of these in 5 years will be worth treble today's price I feel. 


Such an collection would be near impossible to assemble.  I today asked Gary Watson, Australia's leading dealer expert on postal stationary if he had even handled a full set, and he said he had not.  Nor had he ever seen or heard of one being offered.  He feels a 'complete' set of this 1911 KGV official postcard series would number about 100 different postcards, and to his knowledge only one person, a Melbourne collector, would own a complete or even near complete set. 


King George V had opened our first Federal Parliament (then in Melbourne) on May 9, 1901 when titled The Duke of York, as part of a national tour.  He was of course then heir to the throne -  of Australia, not only of Britain.  


One would have imagined stamps depicting him as King would have been most popular with the public, and bureaucrats alike.  No future British monarch or reigning monarch had even set foot on Australian shores at that time.  


Every state Postmaster General surely was thinking in 1910: 'if I issue a set of attractive stamps depicting this new King, my Knighthood/OBE/MBE may well be assured'.  Trust me - that 'Gong' syndrome was not an uncommon expectation for senior Bureaucrats in Commonwealth countries. 


                                                                                                                         'The Big Picture'   

The massive (over 5 x 3 metres) Tom Roberts painting of that opening of Parliament is one of this country's most famous, and most visited works of art, and now hangs in the foyer of Parliament House Canberra. 


Stamp collectors of course know this work well, as it was depicted on the 5½d indigo 'Federation' issue from 1951.  However the issued stamp image is heavily cropped to show The Duke as the centrepiece, and only a small section of the crowd.  Check your album or catalogue and see -  the issued stamp shows only 2 persons standing behind the Duke!


Roberts painted all 269 dignitaries in the portrait exactly true to life, and all are identified by him by name on archive material.  He was paid about 2,000 Guineas for 'The Big Picture' as he nick-named it.  It has been claimed that some of those depicted paid Roberts extra money to place their portraits in a more prominent spot in the painting, than the position they were standing on the day.  A comparison of the 'Big Picture' with photographs of the event lends support to this claim.


 548 pages - an opus work


The 548 page contents of this new ACSC catalogue are far too detailed to list here.  A whopping 400 pages are devoted to the 1901-1912 issues alone.  A goldmine of new info for us all.


In this respect it is FAR more useful to anyone than any Stanley Gibbons catalogue covering this era.  And Scott for Australian States issues is now, and has always been, a sick joke it is so completely useless.  Simple things that any collector or dealer may place little value on are now catalogued - and often for far more than you'd ever imagine. 


Stamps such as individual 'Specimen' overprints, and all the corner cancelled 'CTO' issues are priced individually - for many times the 'normal' stamps in most cases.


The exceedingly common Tasmania 1d red Pictorial watermarked V over Crown mint no-one would cast a second glance at.  Nor would a single copy overprinted 'Specimen' interest me to remove from a mixed lot in the past, as it was not part of a set.  However it is now ACSC T10s - value $150 with 'Specimen' overprint, and someone would now buy it at around that price. 


There is the cost of this book right there.  Likewise the small sized Tasmania 1/- 'Tablet' issue depicting QV from the 1903-1912 V over Crown printing.  Mint worth only a couple of dollars, but overprinted 'Specimen' it is now catalogued $150.  I had left one in a collection last year, as being a single value, it did not interest me to extract or allow any value for.


The 1d Pictorial stamp with watermark reversed is now catalogued $150 even in used condition. The exceedingly common 2d violet Pictorial, V over Crown watermark is catalogued $2 used but is $250 with watermark reversed.  Without this catalogue you would NOT know this.  And masses of similar priced listings.


I have a long term client in Dubbo who I bet has dozens of both errors, and 100s more similar, and will whoop with joy when he sees this new catalogue!  He has been quietly gleaning many 1,000s of watermark errors for decades off these common letter late definitives, as no-one had ever bothered about them before.  His entire holding probably cost him $50, and must be worth $100,000s today. 


Many stamps from many 'States' are now listed separately with the distinctive CTO corner cancels from sets sold to collectors for a few shillings.  They also came from Presentation sets to MP’s and dignitaries – many of which still exist.


An otherwise common stamp now frequently has a catalogue value of 10 times normal when used with these presentation cancels.  In the past, dealers sold them simply as 'Fine Used' and charged little (if anything) more than normal used prices.


Another area that is catalogued for the first time are the 'States' issues with selvedge markings such as plate numbers.  Again - these markings in the past commanded just a modest premium (if anything) over a normal set, as no-one had a price guide as to whether they were really scarce or not.


I illustrate nearby a S.A. 1903 £1 'Thin' Postage high value with the plate number '1' and the 'Value Page number' - an unusual accounting system marking explained in detail in this ACSC.


This stamp in the past sold for about $250 mint.  With this plate/value page number dealers would generally add a small premium, but that was all.  After all the plate numbers appeared on all 4 corners of each sheet.  The 'value page' number was top right of all sheets of this series (and many others) along with the plate number.


I sold a complete set of this issue about 3 years ago via my website for $500 - all matched top right corner copies. So I added about 25% to the $400 price I'd ask for a normal set as they looked rather 'pretty' with these matched corner numbers.  They’d sell today for more than TEN times this sum.


This new catalogue will make one customer of mine EXTREMELY happy.  Just the £1 value illustrated nearby is now catalogued at $A3,000 - or 6 times a normal mint single.  The 10/- value is rated EIGHT times higher with this sheet marking - at $A2,000 versus $250 for the normal stamp.  And so on down the set.


This trend is simply following the massive prices for Kangaroo marginal Monogram pieces.  I reported worldwide last year the sale of a 1913 £1 brown and blue Kangaroo, with attached selvedge with a 'CA' monogram, which sold for $A87,730 at the Prestige Philately Auction January 24, 2004 in Melbourne. That was EIGHTEEN times the value of the same stamp with no monogram.


Tip of the year


Another wonderful feature on this new catalogue is that for the first time, it lists numbers printed of many of these 'States' issues.  There are many surprises to me among them.


This same South Australia 'Thin' Postage set is the big surprise.  It appears there were only 9,600 printed of the £1. And small numbers also of the 2/6d, 5/- and 10/-  ....  the 5/- apparently only had 24,000 printed, yet sells for peanuts anywhere on earth, mint or used or CTO.  I saw one CTO in a dealer price list for $15 last week.  It is really worth TEN times that – even now.


And of these small numbers printed, not all were necessarily issued or sold, as the replacement set to £1 with the word 'Postage' in much thick letters was issued only a year or so later.   Additionally much of the use of these high values was on Telegrams and bulk postage charges, and those copies typically did not enter the stamp market, but were destroyed by Post Offices after audit.



                                                         Buy this set NOW!


For a 100 year old definitive set to have had less than 10,000 sets printed, a value of many times current levels should be prevailing.  You can even today buy complete mint sets for about $400 and somewhat less for used - most of which existing are CTO cancelled - which perversely are catalogued MUCH higher than Mint in this ACSC!


This set is my absolute 'Blue Chip Tip' for 2005.  Buy every set you can find in nice condition at TODAY'S prices (of up to about $500 very fine mint) - mint, used or better still CTO.  The retail price of all three really should already be 2 or 3 times today's levels. 


Do NOT be misled by dealer lists (memo Richard Juzwin!) offering 'simplified' sets - you want the set where the word 'Postage' is in the far thinner letters on all values.  The latter issue 'Thick' £1 is 6 times more common.  If both Gibbons and Scott can clearly list them as separate sets - so can local dealers.


The obvious individual standout is the £1 'Thin' postage stamp on its own.  Some of the lower values in the set have similar print numbers to the 'Thick' Postage, but to me, the £1 is the clear gem in the entire 'State' issue high values - no doubt about it.


As an example the Western Australia £1 issue in the same era had 156,000 copies printed, yet has a similar catalogue value.  More tellingly, the 1913 £1 Kangaroo had 240,000 copies printed, and yet sells for about 10 times the value either mint or used than this £1 South Australia, which had under 10,000 printed.    


Kudos to publishers


Rodney A. Perry is to be applauded for the substantial sum of money and ongoing support that he put behind this massive ACSC project over many years via the Brusden White publishing arm.  This support has been continued on just as enthusiastically by the new owners.


Dr. Geoff Kellow is an editor without par for this series of catalogues.  Meticulous and scholarly original research is evident in all volumes.  The resultant 9 volume set is something all parties involved should be enormously proud of.  NO other country can boast such a complete set of catalogues.  Or indeed anything even close to them.


Collectors and dealers should support these ventures by purchasing a set - or at least the volumes you use most.  'Knowledge is Power' - I have typed that 100s of times in my 25 years of writing stamp columns, and a set of ACSC gives you both knowledge and power ... trust me!

The 'general' Australian catalogues such as the spiro bound full size A4 format, full colour 'Comprehensive'  that I reviewed here recently are world class too.  Superb colour illustrations, and prices of stamps on FDC and PO packs etc.  For under $A40 that is also a superb buy for the general collector.

Paul Walker and Frank Pauer are 'soon' to publish the world's most astounding ‘Australian First Day Cover’ catalogue on CD Rom - more details when I have a copy to review.  Watch this space.  This will revolutionise the collecting of Australian FDC's - no doubt about it.  It has been many years in the genesis now, and there are 1000s of colour FDC scans involved.



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