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August 2017


Ebay Bunnies Breeding Madly!



The ebay Bunnies were out in full force on June 20 - madly bidding this obvious sun-faded and faked Australia 1964 5d Xmas stamp "missing red" stamp shown nearby to $A640 - ebay lot 232370307724.  You can still clearly see part of the word “AUSTRALIA” on the ebay scan!

Excuse the fuzzy, blurry and uncropped cellphone shot - it is exactly what was used on ebay, which is what passes for “images” from many of these totally no idea ebay sellers, that seem to live on a different planet.  Why anyone would pay more than $1 for this laughable fake, is another of life’s total mysteries.


This is what passes for images.


These clueless ebay dopes clearly should have spent $100 on an ACSC QE2, where it advises the only known GENUINE examples, are a couple of used copies, and a single mint one.  No mint copies in pair with normal are known, and if they were, you’d need an Expert Committee Certificate, to sell them in the REAL world!

I think I will list up - "BRAIN BYPASS TABLETS - SUITABLE FOR EBAYERS" And price them at $100 'Buy It Now'.  And mail them all an Aspirin.  I could retire in months I suspect.  The level of gobsmacking total stupidity that goes on there every hour of every day, would fill several University Thesis.  $640 for a sun faded fake. Scary.

This Bunny could buy a Mint AND a CTO used 5/- Harbour Bridge for what he paid for this 1¢ retail glaring fake.  You can make 100s of these fakes on any sunny day here.  EVERY catalogue on the planet has a BIG warning that the red color sun fades readily, and not to TOUCH these without an Expert Certificate. 


“I can’t afford CATALOGUES!”


But no, do the Ebay Bunnies "WASTE" money buying a catalogue for $100 - heavens no! - "I have no spare money to waste on such flippant luxuries".  But I DO have $640 to fritter away on truly crude ebay fakes, with NO guarantee, and NO Certificate, and NO chance of being correct, and NO re-sale value at all.  Amazing.  Common Sense is not as common as many imagine.

Another perennial Bunny Bait favourite on ebay is the following year’s Australia Xmas stamp, the 5d from 1965 with “Gold Omitted”.  The strip of 5 shown nearby from the Pierron Catalogue shows the REAL error, with lower stamp being the true variety, and the stamp above it being partly affected, as always occurs.

One mint sheet of 60 stamps (5 rows of 12) had the gold missing from the lower row.  The ACSC clearly tells us only those 12 examples are recorded, and all of course are mint, and catalogue value is $A7,500 apiece.  SG 381a £5,500, and SG also carries the same note only 12 mint copies exist.  Again these fools never buy catalogues, and never read the warnings.


Make your own Ebay “RariTees”.


These are very simply faked with a Q-Tip or cotton bud dipped in Methylated Spirits.  The “gold” ink was fine brass particles in suspension.  Over half a century back, metallic printing on stamps was very primitive, and were easily fiddled with.  So the ebay fakers trot out appallingly ugly mint and used forgeries that they routinely sell for silly money: “L@@@K - Cat $1,000s RariTee”. 


PO Delivery getting worse not better.


Australia Post’s CEO has been replaced, and the new appointee named.  Ahmed Fahour’s replacement is to be Ms Christine Holgate, who is also on the Board of the struggling Collingwood Football Club in the AFL.

Best of British Luck to her (she is British!) and she came from 9 years at the Blackmores Vitamin Company to AP.  Selling vitamin supplements and assorted quack ‘health’ remedies has nothing whatsoever to do with running a Post Office of course, some wise reader heads might be thinking.  


Best of luck to Christine Holgate


After the Fahour total train wreck appointment, you’d think the AP Board would have learnt ”PROVEN P.O. EXPERIENCE” was the absolute minimum and over-riding base requirement?  Nope - the Board found her after an alleged “global search” and claimed: “she has good Asia experience”.

What that has to do with hopefully restoring our DOMESTIC postal service mess, only the AP Board would know of course.  Search the globe for an experienced POSTAL Manager, with a proven track record, and pay them the very HIGHEST wages of any public servant in Australia.  And then select a seller of vitamin tablets, and kooky “supplements”, as the perfect applicant.  Amazing.

Holgate will get paid about half the obscene salaries/bonuses that Ahmed Fahour somehow hypnotised the Feds into paying him, but she leaves owning Blackmores shares worth around $A5 million on today’s much lower share price, after selling $A4m of them before her wedding, so maybe we will see ACME Rheumatism Tablets, and St John’s Wort etc on sale in Post Offices soon!

I noticed with some interest that the Blackmores price has dropped sharply in the past couple of years from over $A220 a share in January 2016, to well under $A100 a share as I typed this.  No idea of the true reason for this huge drop, but perhaps it was a very opportune time for Ms Holgate to move on?

Ms Holgate told News Corporation she was a “huge online shopper who had never personally had a bad parcel delivery experience”.  I kid you not.  So that’s the ground zero of her personal knowledge of the disaster Corporation she is supposed to be over-hauling.  She has “never” had a bad delivery experience.


“NEVER had a bad AP Experience”


I suggest before she leaves Blackmore’s that Ms Holgate bulk buys a million packs of Steroids or whatever is Blackmores version of them, at a wholesale rate, and issues them to all staff in mail centres, and gives all her overpaid and useless layers of fat cat “Managers” a carton each.

Ms Holgate plans to take two weeks off after she finishes at Blackmore’s in September, when she will fly to Bhutan. She will help out at the Busa Wangdue Goenpa Buddhist Monastery temple, in the high Himalaya mountains, before starting the challenging new role, according to the “Australian Financial Review” on June 27.  “I think it would be a great way to clear my mind,” she said.  Ommmmmmmm.


“Would you like a stamp with that?”


When Ms Holgate emerges from the Bhutan Monastery, perhaps as a bonus to mark her appointment, all users of Australia Post might be given a free bottle of Blackmore’s “St John Wort”?  The label claims they “relieve sadness and despondency, irritability and agitation”.  EVERY AP user suffers from those issues right now!

They are only $47.99 a bottle retail - quite the bargain for crushed leaves of a VERY
toxic and invasive weed, that can kill livestock that eat it!  I had never heard of St Johns Wort until I saw it on the Blackmores website.  Agriculture Victoria regards it as a noxious and dangerous plant as you can see -

Negative clinical trials globally, and potentially harmful interactions with prescription drugs seems to have seen a decline in folks taking it.  What a surprise.  The truly “snake oil” style bogus claims on the label I am astounded anyone can make in 2017, in any First World country.  It is like the 1870s Quack Cure claims. “Relieve sadness” etc.


Kills animals, but great for humans?


Agriculture Victoria say when eaten by livestock, St John's Wort causes inflammation, affects the nervous system, causing depression and hyperthermia, alters heart, blood vessel and intestinal functions, reduces reproductive performance and even death.  Early signs of clinical poisoning include agitation, pawing of the ground, rubbing of the head and face against fixed objects, and mild diarrhoea.  Yet we are advised Humans eating it have the opposite reaction!

The widely despised Ahmed Fahour has popped his head up recently from his swimming pool full of $100 bills, singing the praises of, who are setting up this year and are looking for a CEO.  What a co-incidence this carpetbagger is talking them up. If Amazon wants to fail near as quickly as they start, Fahour would be the PERFECT choice many might speculate!

Analysts and retail experts have estimated that Amazon could capture as much as $A4 Billion in sales within the first three years of its arrival here.  And as much as $A10 billion a year in 5 years’ time, as Australian shoppers are won over by its offer of cheap prices, and often free delivery.  Not if Fahour is at the helm I’d suggest!

Good riddance.  I noticed Mr Fahour’s brother Ali was banned for LIFE from AFL Football after coward punching a football player this month.  He will face 3 Police charges in Melbourne in October - intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury, and unlawful assault.  Ali Fahour had been the AFL's “Multicultural Manager” for 6 years, on a generous annual salary. 


Lost for 2 near months SYD-MEL.


Miss Holgate may have “never personally had a bad parcel delivery experience” (lucky, lucky, her) but she is welcome to check my mailing account, or any of the rest of us in the REAL world, and she will see a conga line of totally incompetent delivery disasters each month, that even Zimbabwe would be ashamed to own up to.

I mailed a stampboards member just outside of Melbourne a lovely Arthur Gray “QUEENSLAND” CTO 4d blue KGV full gum recently for several $100s.  Four different clients ordered it the day I listed it on my Rarity Page - only a dozen or so are recorded.  Mailed in a “Post Office approved” normal size C6 envelope, of normal thickness on May 8.  It should have arrived mid-May correct?


Zimbabwe Level Mail Service.


Of course not.  That is far too simple - he got it July 3, nearly TWO MONTHS after I mailed it.  The client politely chased me up a few times, (and I do not blame him) and all I can do is pass on the Registered tracking number.

He phoned the Australia Post “Unhelp Line” June 15 as you can see, who I am sure cheerfully advised:
“I can see it was mailed May 8 Sir, from Castlecrag.  Where it is now no-one has any idea - we deliver all our mail 101.56% on time Mr Fahour commands us to tell you, and the Media - you Have A Nice Day.” 

WHERE does a standard letter vanish to for TWO months?  Zero tracking events between here and Victoria in 2 months.  Happens with letters, happens with parcels, happens with “PRIORTY” mail - almost nothing these clowns handle arrives in a remotely acceptable time frame these days.

Clients lose faith with all mail sellers, and those poor schmucks who sell stamps on ebay would have had had a Paypal refund issued against them WAY before now, and have negative feedback and a black mark on their account.  All due to PO total incompetence.


Two MONTHS for SYD-VIC Reg’d letter?


That creates a huge mess for both buyer and seller to sort out, and it is all ENTIRELY due to the total hopelessness of Australia Post under the Fahour Regime. Thank goodness he has been kicked out, gouging more mega millions as he leaves, and I really have little confidence in a health supplement seller, on the Collingwood Football Club Board, to make things any better - but fingers crossed.

A trained chimp could probably come up with better ideas and systems than that dud Fahour dreamed up, so any successor should make progress.  Ms Holgate takes over the reins in October after her “Bhutan Buddhist Break”, and we will doubtless later on see racks of Vitamins and strange potions for sale nationally at Post Offices!  We also will hopefully see some delivery service improvement.

It really could not get much worse than recent years, and maybe swapping CEOs will work.  FIVE months to get Registered letters SYD-MEL is appalling.  I needed to FLY one down earlier year as PO lost it twice, containing a $10,000 stamp. Only time will tell.  Best of luck to Ms Holgate - a tough gig. 


Sorting Kangaroo Stamp Watermarks.


The Australian first three Kangaroo watermarks are known locally as First, Second and Third watermarks.  All dealers and collectors here know them thus, and have done for 60 years or more.  The ACSC Catalogue thankfully, also names them thus. The later Small Multiple Crown, and CofA are far easier to sort, so let’s ignore those here.


Universally in use here for 50+ years.


The Seven Seas “ASC” catalogue calls them “Watermarks 5, 6, and 7”. Gibbons call these “watermarks 2, 5 and 6”.  Scott calls them “Watermarks 8, 9 and 10”.  Michel and Yvert catalogues etc call them something else again.

It is a rather Monty Python arrangement, totally confusing to all globally, and it is a shame there is not an outbreak of common sense, which sees all publishers simply align them with the terminology used here.  That is, to the terms used for decades by the ACSC, as per their clear diagram shown nearby.

They are all a single Crown over A watermark, and to the collector not used to handling them, are often very hard to pick apart.  Sadly the foreign catalogue makers all have wildly varying diagrams and names for them, to make things tougher still, and consequently sales and auction descriptions all over the world are a totally confusing mess.

Over 40 years as a dealer, I have handled and sold way over a MILLION Kangaroo stamps, probably double that, and am one of the biggest stockists of these issues globally.  I can sort near every Roo facially when on an album page, or Hagner, or image.  However that is down to lots of practice and experience, and it can’t be taught by books!

These first three watermarks often have stamps of all the same colour in each, to make it even harder.  All are just a single Crown over the letter A.  Naturally the usual hinges and gunk and gook on the reverses can make them VERY hard to pick apart to a person not familiar with them.


Correct guess is 5 times the value.


A 2/- Brown varies vastly in price between the 3 watermarks, so sorting them accurately is important.  A Second Watermark 2/- brown sells for FIVE times that of a Third Watermark for example.  The same as a 9d Violet or a 5/- … many times the price, or $100s of dollars more in the case of the 5/- stamp.

1,000s of stamps I see offered on ebay and similar collector describer sites etc, are just plain and appallingly wrong, as of course the amateur sellers simply “self-decide” they have the SCARCEST watermark every time!  Human nature sadly.  Given the choice of owning a $20 stamp, or a $200 one, they of course ……….


This is the 1915 “Second” Watermark.


And many of the ebay style buyers are just as clueless, so a really perfect storm.  The Blind leading the Blind.  Can’t beat those ebay “Bargains”. (Until it comes time to sell them one day, to a real dealer of course, and THEN the penny drops. Friendly ebay seller “jiminybob3741825” has long ago closed their account, and decamped with your money!)

An experienced eye can quickly sort them all by colour, and/or more often, by the perf characteristics as well in most cases, without ever seeing the watermark.  However for those who need to sort their Kangaroos by watermarks, and are new to it, here are some practical tips you may want to note. 

For detecting harder to see Kangaroo watermarks all those silly $100s cost wacko watermark machines are a total waste of money in my view.  If I ever need to look up anything, which is seldom thankfully, I use a $2 black watermark tray, and a few $ bottle of watermark fluid - or use Ronsonol or Zippo lighter fluid if you must.


Quick, cheap and easy to use.


The plus with the latter fluids is, you also often see repairs and thins or pressed creases etc at the same time!  Few collectors realise that watermarks are easily sorted via Fluid, and it is safe to use even on mint stamps of course.  Clearly these illustrated products are flammable, so READ the labels!

For even faster ID, hold the stamp to a BRIGHT light.  Those little new style 1000 Lumen super bright LED torchlights you can buy cheap anywhere today are superb for this.  Any such backlight often shines through the thickest stamp papers, and are FANTASTIC for watermarks, and I use that all the time.


Near zero cost methods.


These two methods cost almost nothing, and between them, sorts out 95% of these watermarks accurately and quickly, and you are good to go in most cases.  I repeat, those loopy $100s type gizmo “watermark” machines are a waste of space.  I have not turned mine on for 20+ years.

The SECOND watermark Kangaroos really should never be an issue for anyone. The SHARP wide corners of the crown are totally distinctive.  As that was a short WWI emergency use of KGV heads paper, it means the SECOND watermark almost never sits “well centred” on each Kangaroo stamp - often half a watermark is on each side of the stamp, hence an instant clue.

The photo nearby showing the reverse shows that watermark from the reverse, AND the vertical paper grain.  That leaves the First and Third watermarks to sort quickly - SG 12 and SG 41.  A 2/- First Watermark costs 5 or 10 times the price of a 2/- brown Third, so getting it correct is really important. 


Can you sort this one at a glance?


The 1915 SECOND watermark 2/- brown, SG 29 (SG £120) sells in Superb Used condition for about $A150-$200, and the year later 1916 THIRD watermark SG 41, (SG £14) is $A20 or so.  The stamp illustrated nearby has no year date, but I can tell for certain at a glance is it the scarce SG 29.  Can you?

BOTH have vertical mesh paper. Those 2 watermarks look REALLY similar to all novices for some reason, and are the ones most collectors get wrong.  Near everything one sees on outlets like ebay are of COURSE mis-described by the dreamer sellers as “1915 Secon Watarmak, Trew Bargin et $100".  Durrhhh.

To sort a FIRST from a SECOND or THIRD watermark Kangaroo is the world’s simplest task.  The latter two printings were are on VERTICAL mesh paper always, and the First Watermark, alone of all Roos, is on HORIZONTAL mesh paper - always.  See the reverse of one shown nearby.  Tons more discussion here -


Paper CURL in the key.


They hence are SO easy to sort apart, I fail to understand how folks mess it up so regularly.  You can SEE the paper mesh direction easily with the naked eye, and can indeed often see it from scans.  And the fastest, and most certain test, is PAPER CURL.

Place any Kangaroo stamp, mint or used, back of stamp upwards, in the upright palm of your hand.  Within seconds, your body heat makes all FIRST Watermark stamps curl noticeably from top to bottom, and SECOND and THIRD watermarks curl side to side.  It is THAT fast, and that simple!


Double the value, based on paper weave.


The same test works to sort out many other papers such as the notoriously tricky New Zealand "Arms" stamps etc, where the actual watermark is far less easily seen visually, as paper is so thick.  I listed up this £4 Arms on my Rarity Page this week.

The stamp is the very scarce 1935 New Zealand 1935 “ARMS” £4 Light Blue. It is on the thick, chalk-faced “Cowan” paper, with very obvious HORIZONTAL mesh.  The much later, and half the SG cat value, VERTICAL mesh version, SG 212 is often passed off by less informed sellers as this quite rare stamp - SG F166.

£4 was a FORTUNE in 1935 for a mint stamp, during the Great Depression - a month’s wages for those that DID have a job.  A mint hinged pair of £2 Roos of same era at £4 face, is £8,500 in SG!  One of the highest face values in entire KGV reign, indeed most KGVI collectors seek this stamp too, as in the KGVI album, and Murray Payne KGVI cat etc.

the Gibbons catalogue value for this rare stamp is only £600, is one of life’s mysteries. You probably can’t find another mint example on sale globally, at ANY price, as these were always very scarce.  The most ‘common’ 10/- Roo costs more than this mint, and endless examples of those are on the global market each week.   


SAPHIL House Adelaide opens.


I was in Adelaide recently at the newly completed SAPHIL House in Gray Court, in the city square of Adelaide up near West Terrace. They had a large 1000+ lot auction to kick off the shiny new complex, which was attended by about 60 collectors.

SAPHIL is the home of philately in South Australia. The SAPC has owned the bare bones large building in the city for about 20 years, paid for largely with the proceeds of “Stampex 86” I understand.  Back in the 1980s serious money really flowed from those large shows, and benefited the hobby for generations to come. 


SAPC President Martin Walker (standing R)


The skeleton was there, but funds to fit it out professionally, to become a multi-purpose, functional stamp home were lacking. That changed when a suburban Society sold their long held building, and agreed to donate the funds to the wider use, on the proviso they were used to fit out this future SAPHIL venture in the CBD.

After a lot of work by Committee and volunteers, it is now all completed, with wheel chair access ramp from street, very large scale kitchen, superb stamp grade overhead and window lighting, professional bookcase cabinetry for the library and trophies, handicapped access new toilets etc.

A large amount of APF files, and display frames and so on are safely stored in the adjoining building, the Committee kindly showed me over.  Many of the behind the scenes folks like SAPS President Martin Walker, APF committee member David Figg, and Tony Presgrave etc are well known on the national organised philately scene.

All very nicely done I thought, and a credit to all involved.  All they need to do now is add signage on the outside, denoting it is SAPHIL HOUSE.  We drove right past it in pouring rain, down a 1 way street, and it appears not to be marked outside in any way that you can see from the street.  An easy fix I am sure. 


Auctioneer David Figg in top gear.


The auction was well attended and well patronised.  Auctioneer David Figg started it off with an unannounced lot.  A group of old 1930s Post Office brass boxes in a solid wooden enclosure was Lot #1.  I was standing right at back and assumed it weighed well under 22kg and hence mailable, so I bid 3 figures, and it was mine.

BIG miscalculation.  They weighed 28 KILOS.  Far too heavy to mail, and indeed the linear dimensions, and weight, exceeded what I could legally check onto my plane home.  Yikes, anyway all way too late at that point, and I needed to work fast on it to find a new home, ideally in Adelaide


Sweet talked box onto plane.


Listed them for sale on and a member on the NSW Central Coast quickly said he’d take them.  So, I needed to sweet talk the hapless airline check-in staffer at Adelaide to get them checked through as baggage.  So far so good, still a pain in the neck to get from SYD airport to cab, to our car, then to Castlecrag, THEN Gosford somehow.  Get to Sydney and am paged by airline.

They tell me the box was held up by airport security in Adelaide and did not make my plane.  “Was I happy for them to deliver it next morning at their cost?”  Being quick witted, I gave them the address in Gosford – 90 kms away, and they were pleased to do that, so I never saw the PO boxes again!


28 Kilos of headaches!


They appeared to be 1930s era, with heavy 1” hardwood, hand-made dovetail joinery, solid and thick brass PO “CofA” lockable doors, and many layers of ancient flaking paint, that I later discover from buyer was white lead and pink lead - no wonder the airport X Ray machines went nuts! is the photo saga of these boxes, with many close ups and discussion.  The buyer was a cabinet maker in his youth, and plans to fully restore them to original shape, and hence save them from the coffee table “Shabby Chic” furniture fate I thought might befall them. The strange things I buy!

The inaugural auction at SAPHIL had some very interesting material.  I picked up some of the 2016 “ADELAIDE 30c” Emergency issues on cover.  One piece there was not noted by vendor as being cancelled from late afternoon of Jan 5, 2016.  It is the earliest recorded date of these.  I let a friend there have them uncontested, as he has the best collection of this issue extant.

It is planned to have a few auctions a year, and possibly a few dealer tables was the initial thinking, so check the APF website and SAPHIL newsletters for details, and presumably they will also list them in advance on as well.  About the only FREE widescale national advertising any club or society has today, and yet many never get around to it.







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