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April 2020


Covid-19 Virus - Stamp Repercussions.



This global panic we have seen this year from the Covid-19 virus, intrudes and permeates through all sections of society.  Even in the sedate and generally quiet world of stamp collecting!  As we all know, things are changing daily on this front, with ever stranger and weirder new edicts and restrictions appearing in the press each day.

The truly massive stock market swings we have seen in March - with Wall Street dropping from near 30,000 points to around 20,000 in weeks, and currency and oil and gold prices going totally haywire, and global sporting events being cancelled, or totally closed to spectators, travel restrictions, and panic buying of goods etc, we are all aware of. 


 LOTS of stamp shows are cancelled.


 Little known to many readers, is the global effect this panic has had on stamp shows and Exhibitions etc.  Or heavily delayed airmail, and PO mail infection instructions.  I am typing this mid-March, and already, many upcoming global shows are totally cancelled, some large shows included, and sadly, many more WILL be cancelled I feel sure, as the months go on. is the stampboards discussion, where past and current Global shows that have been cancelled, or are under threat, are outlined.  In Europe, in the America and Canada, and in Australia and NZ.   The cancellation notice of the large ASDA event for March 22-22 in Chicago Illinois that I just received today, is shown nearby.

I am near 70 and have seen a lot of health scares in my lifetime, but like everyone else, have never seen this sort of Global absolute panic.  Every year, new strains of Virus and Flus are prevalent - and global.  Our Government here alone spends billions on preventative treatment of these and free flu vaccine shots.  And all of them affect the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions most often. 

In the past none of them have created all the madness and knee jerk reactions we are experiencing now.  All over something which largely has the same effect as the annual Flu does.  It seems bizarre to me that we can still happily visit packed shopping centres or airports etc, packed with 1000s of people we do not know, but attending a sporting event, or stamp show is suddenly prohibited.  It makes little sense - to me anyway.


Melbourne F1 Weekend cancelled last moment


But the fact remains that cancellations are taking place on the day of the event in some cases.  The Melbourne Formula #1 car race Grand Prix literally had crowds lining up at the ground on March 13, where the official team practice sessions were to take place in 3 hours, and the plug was then pulled totally on the entire race weekend. 100,000s take part in these events. 

For organisers and participants in such fixtures, and of course stamp shows, my sympathies, as often the cancellation of such attractions is made by Governments and officials, via travel bans, or other restrictions, not known about until the very last moment - as occurred at the Formula #1 race, just as it was to commence. 


Cancelled at VERY late notice.

  As this is typed, a large Australia National is taking place - Canberra Stampshow 2020, the weekend before the huge FIAP International “NZ2020” was planned to be held in Auckland New Zealand on March 19-22.  Lots of dealers, Administrations, and Judges, and attendees had planned to visit both, as they are in the same region, with a few days between them, and a cheap airfare apart.
The NZ Government announced a total ban on air travellers as I typed this, taking effect midnight Sunday March 15. 
ALL arrivals - even Kiwi nationals and Australians, had to mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days!   A very badly timed mess for the Organising Committee, as most dealers and exhibitors and Judges etc fell into that category. The bans and restrictions are of course changing daily - globally.

Official cancellation “NZ2020” International.


On Saturday Evening March 14, the Organising Committee of NZ2020 made this announcement below on their official show website, as to the sad end of the main show. Their first International Stamp Exhibition in 30 years, was pulled at the last moment basically due to the Ardern Government’s draconian inward travel restrictions -

This afternoon the New Zealand Government placed more restrictions on travel into New Zealand.  From the end of Sunday 15 March all travellers coming to New Zealand MUST go into isolation for 14 days.  This obviously will apply to Commissioners, Jury members and overseas dealers, as well as individual people planning to come to New Zealand for the exhibition.  The Organising Committee therefore has no choice but to cancel the international aspect of the exhibition.

This will cause substantial disruption and expense to travellers, but the matter is out of our hands.  All we can do is apologise, and say we gave it our best shot.  It is 30 years since the last international exhibition in New Zealand and we were really buoyed by the support we received.  One day, we may start again.  As soon as you are able, please cancel or defer your travel arrangements. Your options will vary from person to person.

However, life will go on. For New Zealanders, the Organising Committee decided tonight (14 March) we will run a National Exhibition instead. The entries will be those New Zealand exhibits already entered in NZ2020 and we will also have the display entries submitted and exhibits kindly provided to fill gaps left by the inability of China and Korea to enter.  We estimate this will be about 500 frames, so there will be plenty to see.

Very sad to read, and so near and yet so far, after YEARS of preparation.  I do hope those who attend it as a National, find it is a great success for all involved.  We do need to accept that the typical demographic of attendees at stamp shows is retirement age PLUS, in the vast majority of cases, and that age band are it seems, the most susceptible to this virus. 

But catching it at your local shopping centre, or your bus or train ride there, is JUST as possible of course.  People with existing illnesses, and the very elderly etc, are clearly far more susceptible to ALL kinds of infections - far more so than young healthy people.  Basic medicine and common sense.  Bad Flu can, and often is, fatal to them.

In the USA each year about 25,000 Americans die from Influenza – and 650,000 die globally.  EVERY year.  Covid has killed a few 1000 globally all year.  In a country of 325 million, a few dozen fatalities from Covid-19 is truly tiny.  1000 times more, and we then get to usual Flu fatality numbers.  More die annually in the USA from either bee stings or lightning strikes - literally. 

Just putting things into some kind of mathematical perspective, that few seem lately to do.  Not all readers will agree, and that is fine, but it often seems that each country seems determined to “outscare” the previous one.  Fatalities from anything is not ideal of course, but this is just getting silly.

Other large Stamp Shows planned for months ahead have also been cancelled. 
The International Stamp Fair in Essen, Germany, scheduled for May 14-16, 2020, has also just been cancelled.  It was to be their big 30th Anniversary show, and is truly massive, and it is well attended by dealers and collectors and administrations globally. 


 Huge Germany Show in May cancelled.


The International Stamp Fair is the oldest Trade Fair in the world.  It has been held at the massive Messe Essen since 1976 - initially every two years, and since 2006 annually.  In Spring, over 100 dealers, auctioneers, accessory manufacturers and publishers, as well as postal administrations or their agencies, from all over the world meet here every year to offer their goods to the public, from home and abroad.  An attractive supporting programme, and many free services (e.g. stamp examinations) make this event a “must” for stamp collectors.


Essen International Cancelled totally.


A section of their very well done show website page is shown nearby, with “ - - CANCELLED - - “  in a bold reverse red lettered box at the base of the home page.  The organiser of The International Stamp Fair in Essen, Germany, Jan Billion, posted this explanation below, as to why that occurred, on their show website on March 13 -

“With effect from 13 March 2020, the city of Essen decreed that all major events in the city area with more than 1000 visitors, are prohibited.  The order is not limited in time, but is valid until further notice. This means that there is no planning security for us in the last eight weeks before the stamp fair. 

“After intensive discussions with the Messe Essen venue, I have looked for alternative dates.  Since the decree is unlimited in time, and there is a great uncertainty as to whether major events will be allowed to take place at all in Spring, the general assessment is that postponing it by a few weeks to June will not help.

“After that, the summer holidays in Europe will start.  So only the second half of the year would remain, and Messe Essen can only offer me dates in August or November.  In the summer and in view of the many (also postponed or cancelled) philatelic events in autumn in Germany, and neighbouring countries, and above all because of the proximity of the Sindelfingen Stamp Fair, you will agree with me that a postponement there makes no sense.  For these reasons, the 30th Essen International Stamp Fair must unfortunately be cancelled.”
Jan concluded.


“London 2020” Floor Plan


The large ESSEN show in May in cancelled, but what of the global stamp MEGA show of this year - ”LONDON 2020” in London which is hopefully to be held on May 2-9 at the Business Design Centre - 157 stands.  I am a PTS London member, and their latest update pointed me here -

The London 2020 Committee say on their website –

Coronavirus / Covid-19 Bulletin - Many people have made enquiries relating to the current worldwide medical problem.

The London 2020 Organising Committee are monitoring very closely, and following the official UK Government website on this topic.  At the moment it is intended that the exhibition will proceed as planned.


British Government seem less panicked?


The English Government have not panicked in general, and as of March 14, even after New Zealand’s highly isolationist move that day, have stated that public gatherings such as this stamp Exhibition, are generally OK in their judgement. 

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, and UK Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, have made the judgement call that it is too soon to impose severe restrictions at this stage on such public gatherings.

They both have also advised against the suspension of mass gatherings. Their computer models indicate this would be less effective and more disruptive than the measures they have recommended - hand washing and asking people to self-isolate if they show symptoms of the disease.

“These measures, if correctly implemented, could cut the peak of cases by 20%. People are very much more likely to catch the virus from a family member or a friend somewhere in a small space rather than a big space [such as a sporting stadium],"  Sir Patrick said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government indicated March 14 as this was written, that they would be guided by this detailed medical advice, and act accordingly.  If that stance stays in place (and who knows, with this daily changing mess) it seems that London 2020 might well take place?

BBC reported - ”It is important to stress that this strategy has been drawn up based on evidence and input from many of the world's leading scientists and doctors, many of whom have been involved in controlling the spread of the virus in China and Singapore. And it is notable that no scientists have spoken out against the UK Government's approach.”

“We live in interesting times” as the old expression goes.  So many strange knee-jerk decisions are being made by Governments and bureaucrats all over the world, on a daily basis, so by the time you read this, 100 more will have been made.  It may be illegal to leave your home for any reason, at some stage.  Nothing is impossible.


$750 cash bonus to many readers.


One Federal Government bright idea here, was to hand out a fistful of money to many in the population, which our Prime Minister naively advised early March, will “do the job” of propping up the Australian economy.  It will not of course, it will not even remotely touch the sides, but no-one here targeted (most readers I’d suggest), objects to getting a handful of free money from the Government, I am sure!


Free gift for many Ozzies end March.


Many will simply bank it of course, or pay it off the Mortgage, car loan, existing TV hire purchase bill, current credit card debt, etc, hence creating ZERO economic stimulus to the ailing economy.  Handing out 7 or 8 x unique numbered $100 Vouchers that needed to be spent at any retailer within 1 or 2 months, usable nationally, on all goods other than alcohol, cigarettes or gambling etc, would of course see ALL the money flow into the economy near instantly, but Governments never think that logically or clearly or smartly.

“Government Goodies Gift Vouchers” essentially - which makes FAR more practical sense.  Sadly this Government would need 13 Committee and Sub-Committee meetings, 12 focus groups, 6 consultants and advisors, a few legal opinions, and 2 White Papers, to even agree on the colour and design of them, so the Virus would be long gone, before anything logical like that occurred.  Just wildly handing out chunks of money with no strings attached, is simpler for them. 


Cash Splash commences March 31.


The $750 “household stimulus” freebie will cost the Budget a massive $4.76 Billion, with payments to begin flowing from 31 March.  All welfare recipients and concession card holders will receive a $A750 payment, including 2.4 million pensioners, and all those with a Commonwealth Of Australia Seniors Card.  If it was all spent at retailers on new purchases, well and good.  However, a very large chunk of it clearly will not be.

Government gushingly advises us Treasury has estimated “a 150% return to the economy for every dollar spent”.  How that will occur if the $750 is banked, or paid off existing credit card bills, totally escapes me.  Prime Minister Morrison said the cash payments had a dual purpose - “to benefit those who received them, and to stimulate the economy.”  Anything to get a one-day headline - costing near $5 Billion of the surplus.


One set all stamp dens can use!


What I do know from the last time this same erratic cash splash occurred, is that it will benefit stamp dealers!  Lots of collectors on pensions, benefits, and fixed incomes etc, will take the chance to spend some of it to fill a few holes in their collection, or grab a few catalogues or stockbooks or Hagners etc, that they have been hoping to get, but never quite had the spare monies to fund.

Last time our Government handed out money here, I ran a special offer on sealed factory cartons of six, Stanley Gibbons “Stamps of The World” catalogues for $A399 which was $100s under retail.  I must have sold 40 sets, so have just trotted out the same deal again, to hopefully assist a few collectors.  Not much profit here, but it gets money moving.  And at least a 16 kilo carton represents value for money!

And I suspect our Prime Minister would rather see the free monies spent retail on things like that, than paying it off mortgages, or reducing old Mastercard balances etc!  Indeed, a sidebar to the Covid-19 stockmarket meltdown this week has seen the $A crash to the lowest level against the greenback (and several other currencies) for 15 or 20 years or something like that.


American collectors just saved about 10%!


Cleary all stamp accessories - being mostly made in Europe or USA etc will rise the same 10% our dollar has dropped.  I show a graph nearby of just one week’s fall in the AUD/USD.  The headlines about stockmarket meltdown barely touched on the collapsing dollar for some reason.  Right now an American can buy a $A100 stamp from here for $US61 that cost them 10% more in USD even a week back. They get the exact SAME goods - they just pay 10% less.


$100 saved, due to my tardiness!


Luckily in this era of fast and easy internet buying, a lot of that sort of savvy currency arbitrage occurs, and single stamps or sets, being light to post, generally come with truly minimal shipping costs to overseas buyers - unlike mailing heavy sets of Scott Catalogues etc! 

One guy in Boston ordered a $A1,000 Mint Kangaroo on March 1 that I had on my Rarity Page.  Been super busy here, so I only charged his credit card today, and my tardiness has saved him about $100 when his Amex statement arrives!  What a strange world this is.  If I waited another week - who knows?!

Likewise when we BUY from an American source, the cost to us is suddenly 10% MORE!   I need to update my set of Scott Catalogues for the office.  As a dealer I need the current SG, Michel and Scott sets.  Scott now issue them in TWELVE large volumes.  The cost to purchase them in $A - even wholesale, is above what a 15 hour each way return flight to the USA costs.  And the shipping nearly doubles that again!  True.


 Price went up 10% in a week here.


All large dealers I talk to here, advise that foreign stamp orders have picked up markedly in recent months due to the ever sliding dollar - we are at near 1=1 parity with the New Zealand dollar as I type - bizarre.  Buyers in countries with high local inward VAT like Canada, UK, NZ, Europe etc, find stamps arrive with no incident or levies, as being small envelopes never look “valuable” to Customs officers, so an added bonus.

And what effect does Covid-19 have on AIRMAIL services?  Well heaps of course.  Since Trump banned near all commercial aircraft between USA and Europe - who are the ones who carry near all mail from Postal Services globally, the established systems will be in a total mess.  Few planes = little mail.  (China has been fumigating all mail from Hubei in recent months.)

Royal Mail has added a strange twist, as UK dealer Ian Billings from Norvic Philatelics reported today on  This curious new policy, Royal Mail has just started for signed for items, and showed what he signed today.  “Instead of a signature, the postperson will write 'COV19' on the PDA, and this is what Track and Trace shows for the special delivery item that I collected this morning” Billings said.  Here is the PO explanation -


Postmen want to keep their distance!


Signing for and receiving items -

 In order to protect both our people and customers as much as possible, we will not be handing over our hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures.  Postmen and women will instead log the name of the person accepting the item. This will apply to Special Delivery Guaranteed, Tracked 24/48 with Signature, and Signed For services.

Additionally, for all customers (including those who are self-isolating) where we need to deliver any parcel that won’t fit through your letterbox, we will place your item at your door.  We will then step aside to a safe distance while you retrieve it. This will ensure your item is delivered securely rather than being left outside.

If you are unable to come to the door at all, we will issue a ‘Something for You’ card, advising of other ways you can arrange to get your item.  For example, by getting a friend or family member to collect the parcel from our local Customer Service Point on your behalf.”


KGV favourite horse was Australian.


One of my VERY favourite stamp designs of all time from Australia is the 1935 2/- Silver Jubilee issue.  Not sure why, but the 2/- Violet top value shown nearby just really leaps out and really appeals to me, whenever I am flicking through albums of material from this region.

This stamp was issued in the Great Depression where the Australian economy had collapsed, and unemployment here reached a peak of 32% - the world’s highest rate actually.  Few think of it now, but this 4/- was a LOT of money, and few had it to spend on 2 mint stamps - and 99.99% did not buy them, so they are most uncommon 85 year on, especially in unmounted mint.


One of my favourite stamp issues.


The low value 2d and 3d John Ash Imprints of this set are not really scarce, as face value was modest.  This one was perfect centred MUH, with great perfs and colour too, and at $A225 is not much more than I sell last year’s Post Office Annual Album for - strange hobby.  ACSC catalogue for an Ash Imprint block 4 is $6,325, which I assume is a typo!  

Few know that King George V’s favourite horse - shown here on these stamps, was called “ANZAC” and was of a very hardy local breed called a “Waler”.  This breed was preferred by the Military - and Australian bush stockmen, for their hardiness and endurance. This horse was a gift to KGV from the Australian people, and was bred at Governor Downs Station, near Nebo, in Queensland.


Stars of Beersheba Palestine 1917.

  “Walers” were a niche breed of horse used by light horsemen in the campaigns in the Boer War, and in Middle East during the First World War. The light horse combined the mobility of cavalry with the fighting skills of infantry. They fought dismounted, with rifles and bayonets.  However, sometimes they attacked on horseback, like in the famous hand-held bayonet charge against the Ottoman Turks at Battle Of Beersheba in Palestine in 1917. 

During the Boer War, Australia dispatched 16,314 “Waler” horses overseas for use by the Australian Infantry Forces.  In the First World War, 121,324 were sent overseas to the allied armies in Africa, Europe, India and Palestine.  Of these, 39,348 served with the First Australian Imperial Force, mainly in the Middle East, while 81,976 were sent to India.  In the Middle East they were superior to Camels as a means of transporting large numbers of troops. 

King George V riding horse “ANZAC”

  These horses were called “Walers” because, although they came and were bred in various parts of Australia, they were originally sold through New South Wales. They were a sturdy, hardy breed, able to travel long distances in hot weather with a heavy load, but drinking little or no water. 

Horses usually need to drink about 30 litres of water a day.  However, during the WWI campaigns they went for up to 2 days without water in the hot sun, while carrying a load of 130 kilograms, comprising rider, heavy saddle, rifle and 90 rounds of .303 ammunition, equipment, and food and supplies etc.

Shown nearby is an actual gelatin silver photographic print showing King George V (1865-1936) riding “Anzac” during an inspection of Horse Guards and Life Guards in June 1927, after presenting the regiments with New Colours. The King is dressed in full military uniform, including insignia, medals, and a cocked hat with plumes.  It was used to design the stamp set, with small changes made, as you can see. 


German 1923 “Inflation” era stamps.


The Australia dollar sinking about 10% in a week against the USD is nothing, compared to 1923 Germany!  In many foreign countries used examples of a stamp are often worth many $100s, even $1,000s whilst the mint version sells literally for pennies.  The Germany 1920s “Inflation” series offers some striking examples of this.  They were initially overprinting older issues like crazy.


A range of German Inflation stamps Mint.


One that quickly springs to mind is the Germany 1923 800T on 500M green. SG #300.  Mint it is catalogued 25p by Stanley Gibbons, but used it is £2,500 = $A5,000.  Michel rates it as 2000 Euros Mint used, and only  cents in mint!   Naturally you only buy expertised examples of used.  A genuine one is shown nearby with Hamburg part cancel.  Near everything on ebay etc has fake cancels of course. 

We have all heard of the insane inflation in Germany in late 1923.  This Weimar Republic era saw folks literally paying for a loaf of bread with a barrow load of Mark notes, as the currency was devaluing rapidly by the day - or by the hour even.  This mad situation posed enormous logistical problems for the Post Office, as can be imagined.

The German mark was finally revalued on Dec 1, 1923 at the conversion rate of 1,000,000,000,000 old Marks to 1 new Mark, or one Trillion to one.  Herein lies a common point of nomenclature confusion.  After one hundred million, the European and North American conventions for naming the numbers differs.  The European billion has 12 zeros, which is a North American - or Australian and British, Trillion


Germany 1923 Weimar Inflation Letter fees.


On December 1, 1923, the new Rentenmark (or Reichsmark) was deemed as being equivalent to 10 to the 12th power old Marks, i.e. 1,000,000,000,000 Marks.  That's one Billion if you are a German, but one Trillion if you're British or American or Australian.  The old paper currency was generally not worth bothering with changing over, and ended up as scrap paper or loo paper - literally! 


Postcards also cost Billions to mail.


A collector friend, Peter Lehmann popped in for a coffee last week, on his way to a stamp club meeting at the Northern Beaches Society, where the members were all invited to bring along things from their collection starting with the letter “I” for local display.   Peter chose “I” for INFLATION, as he has a nice range of these German Inflation covers.


40 Billion marks for a local postcard!


He kindly loaned me the postcard to scan, shown nearby, as an example of the massive cost just for local mail.  It was sent from an official at the Railway Station on the outskirts of Berlin, to the large and well-known Industrial Corporation BASF in Stettin Germany, only 70 or 80 kms away. (Was ceded to Poland post-war, and was re-named Szczecin.)

As can be seen, it was mailed November 28, 1923, and postage on here was 40 BILLION Marks!  A few days later the currency was reformed, and these stamps became near worthless in Mint condition, hence their low value even near 100 years on, in Mint condition.  But a genuine commercial postcard like this, paying the correct 40 Billion Mark domestic rate, was quite something to see.






"KNOWLEDGE IS POWER"  as I type incessantly -  I cannot over-stress the importance of having a solid library.  Often the very FIRST thing you look up, often pays for that book forever!  A number of wonderful reference books have appeared in recent times.  In many cases within Australia under the new parcel rules, buying 2 or 3 books costs the EXACT same shipping as ONE does, so do give it some thought!   Within NSW, 10 books costs about the same shipping as 1 book etc!  (Superb VFU, valuable franking used on ALL parcels as always.)  ALL in stock now - click on each link for FULL details of each book.  Hint for these as GIFTS!  Buy FIVE or more, and deduct 10% OFF THE LOT!  Glen


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Superb 2018 ACSC  "Australia Postal Stationery"  Catalogue - huge 484 pages colour $A240 (Stock 782DV)

ACSC New full colour catalogues for KGVI and QE2 – the BOTH huge A4 books $230 (Stock 892JC)

The Arthur Gray "KGV Reign" Collection, Superb hard bound leather Catalogue just $A65 (Stock 368WF)
"Plating Papua Lakatois" Book, 563 x A4 pages, RRP $110 - DISCOUNTED to just $A60! (Stock 432HA)

500 page ACSC New “Australia KGV Reign” catalogue in Full Colour - just  $A170 (Stock 382KX)

Stanley Gibbons superb "2020 British Commonwealth Cat" - 770 pages hardbound - $A180 (Stock 483HQ)

Stanley Gibbons colour GB "CONCISE" Cat - 500 pages – NOW REDUCED $A20 to just $A65  (Stock 483KA)

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