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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

February  2013






"Australia 2013" is in May


I know stamp collectors are a thoughtful bunch, who like to plan things ahead of time, hence this VERY early reminder.

The huge International in Melbourne will be taking place only 4 months from when you read this - on May 10-15.

It may well be the last time we see one held here – cost is well into the multi MILLIONS I am reliably told, to stage this event.

Airline tickets and hotels are much cheaper if booked way ahead of time, and NOW is the time to lock-in your dates whilst prices are attractive!

Air tickets from Europe and the USA are MOST attractively priced at this time period you will find.

The Committee for this show have put in an enormous amount of work over recent years, and have the savviest folks from both the dealer and collector groups among their number.

About 80 dealers and trade stands are booked, and anyone local NOT booked is missing the best opportunity in the past 30 years to expose their business and products. 


Royal Exhibition Building Venue



Venue will be the magnificent Royal Exhibition Building, illustrated nearby, in Nicholson Street Carlton, on the edge of the CBD. is the well laid out website, covering everything you need to know about the show. The times, the dealers, the layout, and the exhibits etc.

The venue is a World Heritage listed site since 2004, and hosted the First Australian Parliament opening on May 9, 1901 – officiated by Prince George, Duke Of Cornwall and York


Opened by King George V


Who of course later became King George V.  This opening was depicted on the 1951 5½d stamp, VERY loosely based on the iconic Tom Roberts mega-painting.

The dome of the Building was modelled on the Cathedral in Florence Italy.  A “fisheye lens” image is shown nearby of a recent trade show there. 


Modelled on Florence Cathedral Dome



There are some superb goodies and souvenirs for the show produced already – all outlined on the website.

“Patron” packages are still available for $A500 for those in a position to financially support the show, and for that you get some really exclusive goodies and benefits.

I signed up for 2 right from day #1, for myself and for, and there are a lot of prominent names I am surprised to NOT see on the “Patron” list – so let’s get into it folks, and YOU know who you are!

There is also a “Supporters Club” package at $A100 that is also great value for collectors attending, offering many benefits.

Lists of the members of both are on the website.


 View 55,000 album pages!


This is THE biggest global exhibition frame-wise since Washington 2006, which had 3,600 frames.

“Australia 2013” found extra space to increase the number of frames being accepted, to 3,400 frames.

'London 2010' had 2,400 frames, 'Indonesia 2012' had 2200, and 'Philanippon 2011' had 2,500.

3,400 frames is near a world record for stamps on display globally - ever.  With the Championship class etc, we are talking some 55,000 album pages!

Collectors making a visit to Melbourne in May will be handsomely rewarded with all kinds of top end exhibits on show, and leading global dealers in attendance.

An extensive range of stamps from the superb collection of Her Majesty The Queen will be on show – many for the first time.

APTA and the APF have worked hard for years to get it this large, and credit to all concerned for their hard and effective work.

The organisers have kindly arranged a table for, and an official meeting at 2pm Sunday, and we hope to have a lot of folks there. contains more info on those matters for anyone interested.


Largest £2 Kangaroo block anywhere



There will be an auction by Phoenix Auctions of the Stuart Hardy Kangaroo Collection on the afternoon of the first day, May 10th.

All lots will be on view at Stampex London in late February.  I have never seen so many 5 figure estimates in a sale catalogue - what a sale. 

This will include the unique fresh MUH block 24 of the Small Multiple watermark Kangaroo, which I suspect will fetch a phenomenal sum – well in excess of the $A100,000 estimate. The ultimate Roo block!

It was originally a full pane of 60, bought from Robson Lowe by Ken Baker for £20 each in the 1960s, who onsold the bottom 36 units to Hardy for £1,080 at that time. 

A block of 12 was subsequently (nervously he says!) torn off by an Adelaide dealer on Hardy’s kitchen table, and sold off in pieces, leaving this unique block of 24.


State Postmarks HOT


I’ve often mentioned here how high prices can be for scarcer Australian state postmarks

The nice strike nearby of the SA Squared Circle “EVELEEN SA” cancel sold at Australian auction in September 2011 for $A4,140 when all fees were added. 


$A4,140 for a cancel.



The estimate was just $750, and the stamp is worth about 20c without the postmark.  Would you have known it was a $4,000+ piece?

Other SA “Squared Circle” postmarks can get good prices too – as you will see below. 

A new book on this subject has been “coming soon” for near 6 years, and a Moderator based in Toronto Canada is one of the folks involved in the snail’s pace project. is the near 1000 post discussion on South Australia “Squared Circle” postmarks, started by “Stamp News “ columnist Tony Presgrave on stampboards.

If you have an interest in this area, it contains a ton of data recorded nowhere else, and maybe you can add some new info to the database, and update any new strikes recorded?


“Little Swamp” gets $US610


Having some knowledge of the subject certainly pays off.  In January 2013, an upside down strike of “Little Swamp” sold for about $US620 on ebay - it is shown nearby.

If you saw it is a club circuit book market at 50c would you have bought it?  I doubt it!


"All China Is NOT Red!"


Most readers will realise many modern China stamps sell for big money, but are you aware of HOW much?

The rare 1968 issue nearby showing Taiwan as a separate country sold at auction in latter 2009 for $HK3,680,000. 

That is well above $A500,000, or about $US500,000 - more money than nearly any single imperforate “Classic” gets, from any country.

And today if it were offered, my guess is it may crack a million dollars. 


A One Million Dollar stamp?


Wan Wei Sheng was commissioned to design a series of stamps during the Cultural Revolution, a decade-long period of mass political and social upheaval in China starting in the mid-sixties.

It was designed to convey to the Chinese masses that - “Everywhere in China is Red” – and the smiling armed soldier was probably placed there, to make sure the message got across! 

The 1968 stamp illustrated nearby featured a worker holding a book filled with leader Mao Zedong's quotations, and showing an entirely red China map in the background.

There was a horizontal version and a vertical version – both of the same face value, 8y.


Major political blunder


However, Wan had left the Taiwan map uncoloured and in WHITE, a major political blunder that sparked a recall of the stamps just half a day after their release.

Taiwan split from China in 1949 at the end of a civil war, and has been ruled separately since. 

However, Beijing still considers the island as a “Renegade Province” and a part of its territory, awaiting “reunification”.

On the day of issue, Chen Chao from the Map Publishing house of China, Beijing Branch noticed the problem in this stamp. The design had a major error. 

It did not uphold the party slogan -  "Everywhere in China is Red",  since the map of Taiwan island at lower right was printed in white color.

The Military Managing Committee decided to stop issuing this stamp, withdrew all the copies unsold and ordered them destroyed. 

Some offices had just starting selling them before that order, hence the few existing copies.


 He STILL looks worried!


Stamp designer Wang Wei Sheng poses nearby in front of an enlarged copy of one of the rare stamps he designed, commonly known as “The Whole Country is Red”. 

He attended the sale of it at a John Bull Stamp Auction in Hong Kong for it and others from the set, on November 1, 2009.


Feared a jail sentence


For years Wang Wei Sheng worried that he would be jailed, after the stamp he designed was quickly pulled out of circulation, because it failed to include Taiwan as part of China in the design.

Designer Wang Wei Sheng, who watched the hammer fall on the then record price, said he had feared he would be punished for his mistake.

"For a long time I was really worried that I would be jailed,"  Wang said.

"Officials told me that it was a really big mistake, but in the end nothing happened."


Taiwan is also not Red!


The vertical version of this stamp in top left corner block 4 with margin inscription shown nearby was sold for $HK2.3 million at the same sale – a then record price.

At the time – only 3 years back - I predicted here that this type of top end pieces might well double in price in a few years.

I was wrong - they near trebled in price!

The MUH block of 4 illustrated nearby was auctioned in Mid-December in Hong Kong by InterAsia Auctions.


Worth more than an “Inverted Jenny”


It was invoiced well above estimate for $HK6,325,000.00, or at time of sale - $US816,125. That is MORE than a superb MUH USA 24c “Inverted Jenny would fetch now, as the price of those has softened in recent years.


Million Dollar stamp?


The vertical version is far more “common” than the horizontal one, hence my guess a top quality example will crack the $US one million mark in the not too distant future.

Even heavily damaged and repaired used copies of the vertical stamp get HUGE prices. 

Good quality China area stamps are stronger than ever.


1882 cover gets $HK218,500


At the same mid December auction strong prices were recorded across the board for China and Hong Kong.

An attractive Hong Kong 1882 Registered and “Too Late”, C1 cancelled cover from Canton to Germany realised an eye-popping HK$ 218,500 etc.


Australia 2013 “LEGENDS”


Australia Day is January 26th, and each year Australia Post issues a set of “Legend” stamps.

In 2013 the recipients cover the pop music field, from the 1960s to 1980s mainly, and the official issue date was January 18th. 

This year’s recipients will join an exclusive group of only 60 others awarded “Legend” status.

The “Legends” Award began 15 years ago when Sir Donald Bradman was the first living Australian to be honoured on an Australian stamp.

Prior to that, the only living people deliberately depicted on our nation's stamps were members of the Royal Family.


“You should be so lucky”!


The 2013 Legends feature on 10 x 60c stamps, a stamp pack, first day cover and set of maximum cards.

Along with a commemorative book titled “Australian Legends of Music” written by renowned music historian Ed Nimmervol.


“Cheque Books” cost $1200!


The stamps are available in a wide range of formats – booklets of 10, “cheque books” (retail $1,200!) and a pack of all 10 booklets, that sells for $62.

Both peel and stick stamps, and gummed format and gutter blocks are available. 

Ahmed Fahour, Managing Director & CEO, Australia Post, appears proud to continue the tradition of recognising successful Australians.

“This year’s Australian Legends of Music have that rare blend of longevity, tenacity and devotion – as well as the capacity to inspire an entire nation.”

These stamps celebrate people who have had a significant impact on the music industry and have made impressions on the lives of all Australians” said Fahour.

The 2013 Australia Post Australian “Legends” were honoured at official Australia Day events staged in all capital cities in the lead up to January 26th, with the first one in Adelaide.

Each “Legend” will also be presented with a 24-carat gold replica of their stamp.



Ian Meldrum on a stamp


Michael Gudinski, CEO of The Mushroom Record Group, chaired the selection panel for the stamps, and acknowledges it was a difficult choice with such rich musical talent in Australia to choose from.

“What we’ve ended up with is a list of people and groups whom have made us proud to be Australian, at home and internationally, people whose artistry and success has coloured our lives and made an invaluable contribution to Australian and global culture,” said Gudinski.

"There was originally only going to be eight stamps but they were very keen to do Molly Meldrum, so it became ten.  But I can tell you now, I won't be licking Molly's stamp!"  Gudinski also quipped.


Subjects on the stamps


The 2013 “Legends” are the iconic bands Cold Chisel, Men At Work, INXS, The Seekers (for some reason!) and AC/DC

Individual artists Kylie Minogue, John Farnham AO, Olivia Newton-John AO, and Paul Kelly are featured, and the one and only TV and media personality Ian “Molly” Meldrum, who recently survived a serious accident.

No idea how The Seekers snuck into this 1980s type era montage, and why the Bee Gees and Skyhooks etc were omitted, but that is another of life’s mysteries!

The “Legends” issue as usual attracted much national media, which is great for stamps and collecting.

News Limited newspapers carried a large article on the set, on issue date. 


Jimmy Barnes gets on a stamp.



Veteran Rocker Jimmy Barnes is depicted on the cover of the legendary Cold Chisel “EAST” album illustrated nearby.

"I'm going to look really small on a stamp - I'm much taller" - Barnes joked in the News Limited article.

"I think one of the romantic things about stamps is I see letter writing as a dying art, and it's something I really love.”

"Instead of emails, I would much rather get a letter from someone, because they are so precious when you think someone took the time thinking about you and writing something to you."  Barnes concluded.







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