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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

July 2010





Cancels Go Crazy.

A lot of readers own or handle the common letter rate Australian States material from the 1890s-1910 era,  that are very common.

These usually have a value of a few cents each used.  Indeed they are often still sold for peanuts as “bundleware”.

However many of them have town or numeral postmarks on them, that make them worth many times more than a FU £1 high value from the same State!

I have noticed a few selling recently for terrific prices, and record them here for the possible interest/profit of others.

Often the scarce strikes are detectable as being from seldom used “as new” cancellers with sharp letters and detail.  Not always however.



Would you spot this one?


This Victoria “1858” cancel shown nearby sold for $900 on an estimate of $300 at Phoenix Auctions in Melbourne.

Numeral “1858” was allocated to Warra Yadin, and the office was open for 3½ years - and the canceller certainly looks well used at first glance of the strike.  A nice find by someone!

The other Victoria cancel shown nearby is stated to be numeral “535”.  I frankly would not have even taken a guess at WHAT the number was!

At the June 10 Prestige sale someone ran up an invoice for more than $A750 for this cancel, on an estimate of $200 ... so again very keen interest from those with far sharper eyes than mine.


Can YOU read this numeral


Big prices. The superb 420 page Freeman/White “Cancels of Victoria” hardbound volume is where one finds out WHAT numerals are scarce.

I have sold literally scores of these books in the past year or so – -  and just one find like these will of course re-pay the book’s cost very MANY times over.

Ditto for the just as useful recent Bernie Manning “Queensland” cancels tome – where he even rates those cancels on KGV heads and Kangaroos - compared to QV Chalon heads. 

My Mantra has always been “Knowledge Is Power” and I think I’ve sold more of that one than any other dealer, as I actively urge clients - whether dealer or collectors, to have BOTH of these essential books in their libraries.

The cancels of Tasmania also fetch super prices quite often. The early numeral series have a strong following.  The circa 1900 town cancels on “Pictorials” also are keenly sought.

Members of have tediously transcribed the lists of numbers against towns, but there is absolutely no substitute for having the printed reference books on hand.


An $1,100 cancel


The same Prestige Auction June 12 had a rather watery looking “NEW RIVER” town cancel on a common 2d violet, that was invoiced at over $1,100. 

Another copy had previously sold at another auction for over $1,200, so clearly a sought after strike.

I love the cds cancels on Tasmania Pictorials, and started a sideline collection of them 30 years back.

Scarcer ones turn up all the time in kid’s albums and junk lots, if you remember the towns for the more elusive ones, which very luckily I do. 

There are quite a few different $500+ town cancels from Tasmania, and the pictorial stamps being so large really can show them off wonderfully.

Many of them only cost a dollar or so each, and offer a great new challenge to take on!


Toasting Prestige’s Sydney office


All these profits from selling Tasmania cancels and other goodies, have encouraged Prestige Auctions to open a Sydney based office.

Based in a little office very high up, right opposite the Town Hall Station, they had a grand opening drinks and cocktails party a couple of weeks ago, that was well attended. 

Photographed nearby enjoying themselves, are Mark Knothe, recently the head describer at Millennium Auctions, Catherine Brown, and impoverished old-age pensioner, Arthur Gray.

Owner Gary Watson stated no auctions would be held in Sydney in the ‘forseeable future’, but local viewing was now to be a regular feature Prestige offered.


“Kiwi” Catalogue Returns


The New Zealand market has always been served by a great range of useful handbooks and catalogues.

It was good to see a new version of this useful catalogue hit my desk this month – after an 11 year absence from the scene!



Back after 11 years


. “Kiwi Catalogue of New Zealand Revenue and Railway Stamps”  Edited by David Smitham - well known in the trade, who now works for Mowbrays NZ.

David is also Chairman of the large “Palmpex 2010 Stamp Show” in Palmerston North in November 2010.

A number of stampboards members are attending, and I hope to see a few reader faces from here over there as well!

Every reader of this column has bought an album or stockbook or glassine where the “fiscal” stamps have been relegated to the back – and assumed to be worth “nothing”.

Often VERY wrong!


And the value is ………….?


A pen or violet cancel does not always mean “worthless”.  Study the 5/- red stamp above, which has both pen AND oval violet cancels.

Who cares, as it is rare and this catalogue tells you it is worth $7,500 mint, and $5,000 used.

I ran a poll on stampboards asking members to nominate the value –  - and it was worth TEN TIMES or more different in real value, than the vast majority (70%) voted.

Indeed fully 22% voted the value to be $5 or under, and several nominated the worth as 5c – as you can see!

That $5,000 price is more than virtually any issued POSTAGE stamp from NZ, so re-asses your view. 

Even the 1/- of this design is worth around half these sums.  Who look twice at a 1/- Rail stamp?

The fairly gruesome looking 12/6d QV Revenue nearby sold at auction in NZ for $4,440, so do NOT dismiss these stamps as “fiscal junk.”



“A Worthless Ugly Fiscal”?

The 44 page catalogue lists and prices in detail all NZ revenues and fiscal and railway issues.  With full colour illustrations.

The mass of Social Secuity issues, Honey Seals, Land and Deeds, Beer Duty, Law Court and similar wacko things and the many overprints and printings are all in here too!

You can order off Mowbrays for $NZ30 post paid worldwide IF you mention this column to -  - or from Brian Moore in Sydney for a similar price –  - both accept credit cards and PayPal.


 Postal or Fiscal cancel?


EVERY dealer and collector needs this new book. Take a good look at the 5/- Mt. Cook nearby.  Is it postal or fiscal cancelled?

99% of dealers will cheerfully tell you POSTAL, and charge you ~$250.  However if you own this book David Smitham tells you it is FISCAL, and worth just 15% of that - and why!


Britain's Rarest Stamp sold


In early June 2010, Stanley Gibbons stated they sold Britain’s rarest stamp, just weeks after purchasing it.

Issued on 14 May 1904, the Edward VII 6d purple, overprinted “I.R. Official”, has earned the title “Britain’s rarest stamp”.

It was issued on the very day that an official order came into effect, withdrawing all Official stamps from use.

The only known examples of this stamp in existence today belong to the Royal Collection, and in museums such as the National Postal Museum.

“Examples of this rarity just don’t come onto the open market” said Stanley Gibbons Director of Great Britain Stamps, Vince Cordell, when they purchased it.

A rather bleedingly obvious comment, seeing it is unique in private hands!

The original SG mid May press release said the stamp was being offered for sale at "£375,000", yet the latest press release early June says it was sold: "in a deal worth over £400K".

Maybe the buyer gave them a nice little tip?


 Sold once again


 One or both figures must presumably be wrong - and shows the danger of relying on press releases from the seller, for an accurate figure! 

However, it does appear to have found a new home - for a lot of money.

It came from a collection in Switzerland in the 1950s, and has been passed from one private collection to another, before being offered to Stanley Gibbons earlier this year.

It sold at auction in the Bill Gross sale of his GB collection for $US402,500 on June 11, 2007.  Gross donated the $US9 million from the sale to Charity, as I reported in my August 2007 column.

Gibbons claim the stamp was purchased privately by a buyer who wishes to remain anonymous.


Cover Madness


Please take a look at the airmail cover shown nearby.

It was offered mid May on ebay by well known cover dealer Rodney Perry of Melbourne, with starting price $9.99 – very much around the correct value in my mind.

The $A440 eventually paid for this with postage cost, and with GST added to the ebay price as Rod does, is the height of insanity!  Even for ebay buyers. had a discussion on this -  - and it is 105% PHILATELIC - no question whatever on that in my mind.

For a couple of years after Decimal currency it WAS legal to use the LSD stamps on mail, with or without Decimal issues.

Postage on the day this was mailed - September 7, 1966, was 4c.


THIS is worth $440?!


To add a 1d stamp to the 3c coil MIGHT have seen one able to argue (rather unconvincingly) this was paying the correct 4c letter rate.

Richard Breckon advises in a learned “GSM” article that on February 14, 1966 we had these as official rates -

1d. = 1c. (rounded up)

2d. = 2c. (rounded up)

3d. = 2c. (rounded down)

4d. = 3c (rounded down)

5d. = 4c. (rounded down)

6d. = 5c. (exact conversion)

So a 2d stamp was legally worth 2c, so this cover is legally franked at 5c. Over-franked,  therefore 105% philatelic in my book. 

Especially with that unusual stamp placement, and crisp cancels, and cute Aboriginal native cover.

Not to mention there was very likely NO 3c coil machine within 1000 miles of tiny outback Coober Pedy PO in 1966.

Most folks bought the 3c QE2 coils from Philatelic Bureaux.  Only GPOs and very large offices had it in machines I understand, as it serviced no rate on its own.

No fault of Rod’s - he started the cover at $9.99 (more than I'd have asked!) did not make any grand claims, and the ebay “Bunnies” did the rest.

We must remember the 3c coil were ONLY sold in a coil 1000 stamps long. They were never on normal sale as singles or strips at any PO counter other than at Capital City GPO Philatelic Sales offices.

I'll bet tiny Coober Pedy PO did not have a machine dispensing 3c coils for which there was no rate.

As to LSD stamps being on sale at small PO's in 1967 - not possible.  As the same Breckon article (the Australia Post Archivist) clearly tells us –

“The Post Office announced that all stocks of pre-decimal stamps would be withdrawn from post offices on Saturday, 12 February 1966. 

“Although they would no longer be on sale, pre-decimal stamps would remain valid for postage for two years following decimal currency.

“Then for a further three years after 14 February 1968, pre-decimal stamps could be exchanged for decimal stamps at post offices or cashed in to the Post Office at face value, less a ‘buy back’ commission of 10 per cent.

“On 14 February 1971, pre-decimal stamps became entirely invalidated for postal purposes.”


A nice “Freebie”


As I often type - new discoveries keep turning up --  sometimes 50 or 100 years after issue.

Earlier this year a Director of a large Sydney auction, Noble Numismatics phoned me about some nice stamp related items they'd received from an estate.


What a nice free gift!


Among them was a blue leather folder of Australian mint stamps, presented to delegates to the “Commonwealth Telegraph Conference Canberra”, in December 1942.

It had the original presentation letter to the recipient from the Postmaster General.

Unlike the other similar folders I have seen, this one contained the full range of current Australian stamps, but in MINT condition entirely.

The near exclusive policy for such presentation folders had been for corner CANCELLED stamps to be used …. generally for all values up to 5/-, and then overprinted "SPECIMEN" for all the higher values.

That also of course was the make-up of the "Specimen" folders of stamps sold by the PO to collectors, from 1913 up until about 1970.

This conference was right at the zenith of World War 2, and my guess is with so many normal staffers being overseas fighting the War, the usual "CTO" requirement was simply overlooked by the inexperienced co-opted workers.

In latter 1942 the Guadalcanal Campaign VERY close by us was in full intensity.  As was the Battle of Stalingrad, and the El Alamein struggle in Europe and North Africa, so stamp packs were of very minor concern I’d guess.

Nobles emailed me the scans too late to be used for the magazine deadline. 

I drove to Canberra for the National show the next day, and to my amazement local dealer Eddie Cummins showed me an IDENTICAL album he was about to auction!

I assumed at first it was somehow the same one, but some discreet checks established there were two such near identical leather cover albums, that had been consigned to two auctions at the same time, by totally different vendors.



A beaming Eddie Cummins


No-one I spoke to had seen this folder before. The goodies contained not only the 5/-, 10/-, £1 and £2 Kangaroos (3rd wmk) - but the 5/- Bridge, and the desirable 1930s commemoratives etc.

And a page of KGV heads, one of which was the 4½d Violet.  Not just any 4½d Violet, but the rare “Die 2” version – see note after SG 120. 

Again, inexperienced staff at GPO must have included those, which generally otherwise only exist corner CTO, or overprinted “FIVE PENCE”.

This mint Die 2 is ACSC 121, and cat $A12,500 – so a far more valuable item in the folder than even the mint £2 Kangaroo!

The Edlins folder was invoiced for $19,200 on estimate $10,000 to an Australian collector, and Eddie had a VERY happy local vendor.  The Noble Numismatics folder got a similar price.

What a great ‘freebie” to have been given for attending a conference!







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