As outlined exclusively in a
previous column, the Arthur Gray
"Kangaroos" collection will be
auctioned in February.
The lucky auctioneer selected to
handle the task is Shreves of
New York. Sale will be February
22 and 23, 2007.
I will fly across and cover the
sale for this magazine. And
hopefully buy a little
portion of it too! I will also
be bidding in person for several
clients - let me know if you
wish me to act on your behalf.
Arthur Gray is of course a well
known Sydney collector, and his
Kangaroos exhibit has won
several Large Golds at
International Level. Indeed 3
Large Golds the 3 times it was
He was given the affectionate
nickname "Skippy" by the many
Asian judges and fellow
exhibitors at these
I gazed in awe at it during
"Pacific Explorer" 2006 in the
Court Of Honour, as I reported
at the time.
Several of the pieces there I
sold Arthur over the decades,
and great to see such a vast
array of mouth watering Roos
back on the open market again.
I imagine some will not be
offered again for another
generation. World interest will
$10 Million Roos
I have little doubt the invoices for the sale
will run to about $US10 million. I have spoken
at length to auctioneer Charles Shreve and
Arthur Gray and they are both upbeat about the
success of the sale.
Shreves are known for handling many superb
collections, and yet this sale will gross MANY
times their highest ever auction result.
This is as far as I know the most valuable
collection ever auctioned by a living person. I
imagine it will EASILY be the highest grossing
"single stamp issue" collection in history.
From any country, from any collector.
It has the lot - booklets, proofs, essays,
monograms, imprints, all the major watermark
errors, rare FDC's, varieties, "Specimens",
largest multiples etc, etc.
Several pieces I think will be invoiced at six
figures in $A. The unique in private hands £2
1913 with JBC monogram illustrated nearby will
likely be one of those.
A six figure stamp?
The "Kangaroos" are only
the tip of Arthur's
Issues of Australia
1937-1952" won Gold in
November at Kiwipex
2006. Arthur Gray has
won top end medals for
his King George VI,
1927-1936" during this
I saw the latter at
Washington 2006 where it
gained high acclaim
- and Large
Gold recognition in the
The catalogues will
themselves be long
works - collectibles in
themselves. They will
cost $US75 each, and are
hard bound, with
and superb photos.
Readers of the January
"Stamp News" magazine
news can consult the
colour centrespread for
details of where to
subscribe - or email
of course all will be
loaded on their website
A far more detailed
write-up will be in my
I have typed this before, but it is
Australia has THE best and most
detailed stamp catalogues of any
major country on earth in my view.
No-one else even comes close.
The "Australian Commonwealth
Specialists' Catalogue" (ACSC)
edited by Dr. Geoffrey 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
And even the Michel German 'Specialised'
is nowhere remotely near as detailed
as the ACSC. And what detailed info
there is often written in technical
Newest ACSC's issued
Two updated volumes of the ACSC
have recently been published.
1. King George VI,
including BCOF issues. (2nd
Edition) 264 pages
Queen Elizabeth II 1952-66,
Antarctic Territory and Cocos
(Keeling) Islands issues. (2nd
Edition) 356 pages.
Apologies for the delay in
reviewing them, but have finally
found time to do them justice.
You MUST buy this pair if you
sell or collect this era of
Australian Commonwealth stamps.
There are now nine different
volumes in the complete set.
The previous volume issued - "Kangaroos
and The Early Federal Period,
1901-12" was a whopping
548 pages. An opus work. The
largest of the series so far.
The long awaited "King
George V", (3rd edition)
will be released as you read
this article, and I'll review
that in due course.
Unissued 3½d - cat $5,000
I offered clients a special "$100 off" offer
recently on the full set 9 volumes for $535 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 order these new editions.
These catalogues are not bad value for what they
contain - $80 and $85 respectively. The value is
certainly there - finding just ONE decent variety
you otherwise did not know existed will readily
repay that outlay. All leading dealers have stock
of this new catalogue.
The previous editions are all but meaningless now.
The first thing you notice is the quite amazing clarity of the
photographs depicting retouches and varieties. The previous
editions had very muddy and blurry illustrations.
This one has things as crisp and as large as you could ever hope
for. Often the photo sizes are double those of the previous
And for the tricky fields like retouches and re-entires, that
aspect makes both these books worth their purchase price alone.
On complex issues like the 2/6d Aborigine these photos are
literally TWICE the size of the muddy forbears, and crisp and
The 1942 5½d Emu is another excellent example. This stamp is a
student's dream. The last ACSC photos of the countless
retouches/re-entries were pretty useless to be honest. The new
edition has the photos far larger and sharper.
Prices for listings on this Emu stamp jump strongly. A plate
number 5 block goes from $600 to $5,000. The specimen overprint
on this stamp jumps from $200 to $1,000. Many of the listed
flaws treble or quadruple.
The first day price cover rockets from $750 to $5,000.
The basic stamps price of course remains the same, mint or
used. Which is why you DO need the catalogue!
Many new items are listed and priced.
New archival information is recorded for the first time. Rare
items like the 1948 £2 Arms with 3 x 15mm "Specimen" overprint
is now known to have comprised an emergency printing of only 180
stamps, making it Australia's numerically scarcest post war
issue by a long way is my guess.
Not all of those 180 were known to be issued, and only about 15
are recorded. Price is now $5,000 MUH. $2,000 in last edition.
I bought one with a photo certificate recently from a client to
whom I sold it only a few years back for $1,250. Good stamps
just keep increasing strongly in value. That client trebled his
FDC collectors will be interested to note the £1 Robes 'Thin'
paper on FDC is now up to $7,500 - at least 3 are recorded.
The 1956 Olympics 3½d 'unissued' value is now $5,000 a single,
$30,000 a booklet pane and $60,000 a plate block.
The PO sold these off as surplus in a controversial public
tender in 1986/1987. Someone got lucky and bought a pane for
$2,800 and the unique plate block sold for only $6,500. Those
buyers have enjoyed around a 10 fold increase on both.
"On Cover" prices
Rod Perry has written for years that much of
this QE2 pre-decimal era material on commercial
cover is incredibly difficult to obtain.
The catalogue prices of many of the stamps
herein bear this out.
Stamps you would imagine often found on cover as
they paid the airmail rate overseas are seldom
encountered. The 2/3d commemoratives offer good
examples. The Royal Visit is $80, the Anzac
$100 (up from $40) and even the humble 1965 2/3d
ICY on cover is $75.
"All the way with LBJ"?
I recently sold a large collection of commercial
covers of this 1950s/60s QE2 material to a
local dealer A-One Stamps, which contained all
the 2/3d values. It was the only complete set
of these I can recall seeing in 25 years as a
The collector had written them all up neatly and
in great detail, but had missed one important
detail on the one illustrated nearby. The
This was a 2/3d Anzac commercially used
cover addressed to President Lyndon B.
Johnson at the White House, Washington,
Mailed July 1st 1965 from Pyramid Hill
Victoria - months after issue date, so it is
a clear commercial use. The sender was "Hopefield
Estate" in Pyramid Hill Vic according to the
Pyramid Hill is a small town of around 500
people which is named after an adjacent
hill. It is located in a wheat-growing area
252 km north of Melbourne via Bendigo and 18
km north-east of Durham Ox which is located
on the Loddon Valley Highway 84 km north of
Who knows that the content of the letter
was? Possibly a polite request to withdraw
our young troops from the silly and
murderous and un-winnable mess in Vietnam -
The sender's message may well have echoed
the Australian government's grovelling
slogan of the time: "All The Way with
LBJ" ..... or then again perhaps it did
Using a new stamp depicting Simpson and his
donkey at Gallipoli in 1915, evacuating a
dead or wounded soldier from another remote
conflict that also had nothing to do with
us, may well have been symbolic.
Addressed to a ruling USA President, clearly
the value increases over normal commercial
use. But by how much? By $150 I'd say! I
offered it for $250 on - glenstephens.com/rarity and
it sold very rapidly.
Here is some advice to readers. If you are
looking to start a new collection that will
offer enormous challenge and not cost too
much, buy the "Queen
Elizabeth II 1952-66" ACSC volume and
start acquiring as much as you can of what
is listed inside.
There is VERY little
expensive material here, and much of it will
cost you only dollars each for catalogue
flaws, re-entries and plate flaws. It has
enormous upside, and offers a real
make the job very simple. A real credit to
Just twenty keen new
collectors for this field would cause strong
price movements as there simply is no stock
out there at all of this material.
A stamp like the 1963
5d Export really shows the 5 retouch types
perfectly in wonderful detail.
Someone could make an 8 frame exhibit just
on the 5d green QE2 or the 8d Tiger Cat!
These were all "REAL"
stamps all recess printed by engraved and
regularly retouched steel plates, and offer
the true student an unlimited field in which
to work and collect.
The new illustrations
on the latter two issues are just superb.
For the first time,
applicable period Cocos Island and AAT
issues are listed and priced in the ACSC.
This is useful info. Numbers delivered to
the PO are recorded for the first time.
AAT base cancel FDC's
are repriced for the first time - being $200
a set for the 1959 set for instance. Or
even $40 a base cancel set for the 5d green
or 5d blue.
There has been a
curious mistake made in the prices on the
1963 Cocos set 6 - at $8.7 mint and
$8.50 used - for a scarce set that sells for
around $45 MUH. The same set used on
commercial cover is rated as $185 which
seems on the high side.
All the Imprint
blocks of the 1963 Cocos are also priced,
which is also a welcome move. Again the
pricing error has carried forward with an
imprint block 4 set 6 rated at only $63,
when it might more correctly be
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to
all readers of this column - and their
families and their loved ones.
Stamp-wise this has been a very exciting
and interesting year. Thanks to all
readers for the many phone calls and
emails with comments for AND
against what has been written here!
I travelled a lot as always this
year. Full details and photos as
always are on - glenstephens.com/travel
The huge "Washington 2006" World
Stamp Exhibition kicked off May 27.
Wild horses would not have kept me
away. I saw many dealer and
collector friends whilst wandering
about, as well as taking in the
An enormous success. After the show
we drove up to Gettysburg
Pennsylvania to see the Civil War
battle scenes which was fun.
I went off on one of my more zany
Safaris of all time in late August.
33,180 miles or just on 50,000
kilometres! First to Seoul Korea,
where I went right up to the
weird DMZ zone and visited Camp
Bonifas, and literally went into
Then the long flight to Amsterdam.
From there to Tripoli in Libya -
North Africa. A 105% alcohol free
strict Muslim country, even in
tourist Hotels, so my liver got a
They have some quite astounding
Roman and Greek ruins in Libya, and
yet they get virtually no tourists
at all. Look up Leptis Magna on
Google - it was the second largest
Roman city on earth, and it is
nearly perfectly preserved.
Totally covered in sand
The 2nd Century AD Colosseum on the
Mediterranean was covered in sand
until a few decades back. The
largest outside Rome - it seated
35,000. Gladiators fighting wild
animals entertained the locals. We
walked around all day around this
massive site, and saw 3 other
Back to Amsterdam and from there
another long 9 hour direct flight to
Suriname and French Guiana
- about the last two South American
countries I have not yet visited.
Talk about REMOTE and seldom visited
places by any tourist.
Needed to get smuggled
by dug-out canoe into
French Guiana, as we did
not have a visa, and
only had a single entry
visa for Suriname. Some
ozzie chocolate to the
lone Border Guard did
the trick. A fun
In the Treaty of
Westminster 1674 between
the Dutch and the
British, the Dutch got
to keep Suriname and the
British got to keep
Niuwe Amsterdam. Known
to most of us as
Manhattan - indeed it
was then the entire
tri-State area. WHAT a
Flying back home was
about 80 hours via bad
connections on 4
stop. Longest stint
I've ever done in
November saw another
20,000 miles or 32,000
kms sojourn. First the
long 14½ hour stint to
LA, then 5 hours across
the USA to Washington
DC, then flew up near
the Canadian border to
Portland Maine. All
without a hotel stop.
Rented a car for a week
and drove around in a
large loop through
Vermont, New Hampshire,
upper NY State, Ontario,
Quebec and New Brunswick
provinces, and back into
Maine, and head slowly
back down the coast.
We travelled near the
peak of the Autumn "Leaf
Turn" season, where the
foliage colour changes
are spectacular. I've
done this a few times
before and it is just
beautiful. We stuck to
the smallest back roads
Back to Washington for
dinner with friends, and
a visit to the
Smithsonian Air and
Space museum, then back
home on 22 hours of
Barely time to unpack
the suitcase and off to
Boca Raton Florida early
December for a weekend
with flyer friends and
to watch the launch of
the space shuttle
"Discovery" from Cape
Kennedy. A few days
there and back home,
after another 20,000
miles on planes.
In December, off on my
fourth visit to Vietnam
- this time for
Christmas and New Year -
when you will be reading
this! Seasons Greetings
to one and all.
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