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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

July 2012






Junk box find gets $60,000+


All collectors dream of "the big find" whilst fossicking though a junk box.

Most never do of course!  However it occurs often enough for everyone to keep looking.

One client recently sold me something otherwise very common for very many $1,000s.

Literally found fossicking though envelopes of used post war junk, on a 5 hour transcon plane flight here.

The neighbouring passenger soon retreated to the back of the plane thinking my client was some kind of demented nutter it seems!

And so it was with one lucky vendor at the Phoenix Auctions in Melbourne, on June 9.

The pretty ordinary looking ½d green KGV stamp shown nearby was invoiced for a little over $A60,000 - or $US60,000.

This 1918 stamp has a SIDEWAYS watermark, and only a few are recorded thus.  SO far! The estimate was “only” $25,000.


$60,000 Junk Box find


The way out-dated ACSC catalogue value for this is $A40,000, and SG is £22,000.

This Auction price is around DOUBLE the full SG price.

 Perfectly centred, it has a Western Australia machine roller cancel, and was noted as having a stain.

There are both versions of this invert known - crown pointing left, and crown pointing right.  SG 48b and 48bw, so it clear at least 2 sheets were sold. 

Many more may be out there – being such a cheap stamp normally, most folks have simply never bothered searching.

Retail is only $1 or so, and even INVERTED watermark is pretty common, so few have ever looked at the watermark.

None of these stamps were ever auctioned until 1988, and were not listed in ACSC until the 1970s, so few have bothered looking. 

I have NO doubt whatever more copies of this error will surface after this publicity.  Let me know if you find one!

My recent front cover story on the 2/6d Aboriginal “One Pound Jimmy” sideways watermark turned up totally new examples, near all of which I have offered for sale. 

I archived all columns of my much missed colleague Simon Dunkerley for posterity on my website, and he wrote a very detailed piece on the other 2 known ½d copies here -


Full ACSC $100 in 1982!


As Simon notes, it was first priced in the ACSC in 1982 at $A100, so who says there is “no money in stamps”!

Ken Pearson, a Director of Phoenix told me after the sale -  “There were three bidders on the book, and another three on the phone.”

“It became a battle between two phone bidders at around the $30K mark. Neither the winning bidder, or under bidder wish to be identified in any way.”

“The item was found by a West Australian collector in a bulk lot of KGV heads, and was as amazed as everyone else with the find and the high price.”

“We took all the Auction items to the Perth Exhibition in May for viewing, and at the show the other two copies were being exhibited.”

“Unfortunately the photo opportunity of all three known examples together was missed!”


New way to detect Die 2 Roos.


You would think after near 100 years, that the main Dies of the Kangaroo stamps would be clear cut in all minds.

Not so.  Nearly EVERY copy of the 3d green I see offered these days as the scarce “Die 2” quite clearly are NOT.

On ebay about 90% of those offered are wrong, and I often see real dealers who SHOULD know a lot better, offering the normal and common Die 1 as the scarce Die 2 in their auctions.

The 1913 First Watermark Die 1 (SG 5/5a) is retail $15 fine used, and the scarcer Die 2 (SG 5e/5ea) is retail $A250 in FU. 

The later Third Watermark SG 37 and 37d are very slightly cheaper, but still rather expensive stamps in true Die 2. 

That watermark also has a common Die 2B, SG 37e, but outside many ebay sellers, that one is pretty easy to sort using the top outer frame and top NE corner. 

Mint Die 2s in either watermark are valued at several times the used prices above of course.

So, fertile fodder for the perpetual “dreamers” who always exist in the stamp world, to grossly misidentify these stamps.



”JBC” Die 1, “CA” is Die 2


Show near every novice (and many dealers) a used 3d Roo stamp, and tell them it is EITHER a $15 stamp, or a $250 stamp if they squint hard enough, and they’ll come up with the latter identification in near all cases!


“Fool’s Gold” Die 2s.


Human nature.  They are mostly wrong of course.  “Fool’s Gold”.  To be fair, the difference between the two is miniscule. 

And in used stamps the area you need to look at, is often obscured by cancel ink, making it an ever tougher guess.   

On ebay it will be offered with the standard gibberish with a fuzzy, grainy, tiny photo -  “Grannie lef me hur stemps and this Dye 2 wus en itt. Deeler pryce $250 - by itt noe fur $100.”   

Don’t laugh.  This pidgin English nonsense on ebay generally gets higher bids than describing stamps normally. 

And yet another clueless Bunny pays 5 times retail for misdescribed junk off spiv sellers.  And it will end in tears as always.

For near all my decades in stamps, the way to pick them apart was the inner frame break to the top left of “T”.  Unbroken frame line was Die 2, and broken line was Die 1.


Die 1 on left, Die 2 on right


Sadly, overinking often meant the inner frame line on Die 1 stamps is in-filled, hence often looking like the many times scarcer Die 2.

And of course all the common Die 2B have complete inner lines, creating another layer of confusion for Third Watermark 3ds. 

There was never an accepted alternative way to check these apart.  Neither SG or ACSC offers any assistance there.


Dunkerley new test.


In recent years, the late Simon Dunkerley posted a most helpful new “test” on

Simon pointed out that a very simple quick visual test that sorted the “wheat from the chaff”.

The new test relates to the top loop or “blob” of the numeral 3.

On Die 1 this loop is a fat nearly perfect round circle, as can clearly be seen in the close up nearby.

On the scarce Die 2, this top loop is noticeably less wide, having the effect of a “tear-drop” hanging off the top of the 3.


 ”A Watertight Test”


This is a fast and ABSOLUTE test.  You can see it readily with the naked eye once you keep it in mind.  Tear out this page perhaps!

As Simon posted – “The size and shape of the top circle on the '3' has proven to be a watertight test”

Look at the fairly fuzzy Monogram stamp scans nearby from a Prestige Auction.  The top blobs on the 3s can be easily picked apart.

The “CA” monogram stamp is a Die 2, and the “JBC” stamp is Die 1.  Easily seen.


Die 1 + 2 pairs impossible!


Another crazy anomaly with this stamp is the number of “Die 1 + Die 2” horizontal pairs that one sees offered.  Again often on ebay.

There is NO such thing possible.  You can have horizontal pairs of  Die 2+1, Die 2+2 or Die 1+1. 

But Die 1+2 is totally impossible to own, due to the occurrence of the Die positions on the pane, which are well documented.

Sadly the ACSC lists and prices these non-existent “Die 1+2 pairs”, and even Gibbons lists pairs, so folks with vivid imaginations go out and offer them for sale, when they just cannot exist.  


“Black Caviar Fever”


Not often do new issues from the Post Office shoot up quickly in price soon after issue, but this is one.

This special pack of 20 x 60c stamps was issued May 10 depicting the 20 straight wins of this freak horse. 

The packs sold out incredibly fast due to the wide public interest in the horse, and the success story she has had.


A short money favourite!


Myself and other dealers who secured stock were soon selling the $12.95 packs for around double issue price.

All Australians know the legendary performance of this, the world's greatest racehorse for many decades.

Not since Phar Lap 80 years back, has Australia seen such a racehorse – and he won “only” 14 straight races!

“Black Caviar” is THE fastest and most successful sprinter on this planet, there is no question.

21 straight wins in top company, and then flown to the UK to run June 23, at Royal Ascot - “Queen's Diamond Jubilee Stakes” - £400,000 prize-money.

Australia Post rush-released this pack showing every win, on May 8 after consecutive win 20 -  that most of the country was tuned in for on TV.


Very fast sell-out


The pack sold out lightning FAST as the Mums and Dads out there snapped them up in days as “souvenirs”, such is the "Caviar Frenzy" here!

Australians are racing mad – the “Melbourne Cup” is still an official public holiday in Victoria, and stops the entire country each November.  Prize money for that one race is over $A6 million.


“Black Caviar” postage stamp action


Specialist Chris de Haer discovered the 60c stamps used are a different size and perf than any stamp ever issued, and are thus destined to have their own Catalogue listings.

Chris announced his discovery on in mid-June, and the demand increased even more.

My tip to all those who own more than one pack is to secure some USED copies or sheetlets.  Many buyers off me asked for part of their order to be PO cancelled.

Or use the sheets on Hagner sized Registered covers to yourself.  Postmarked clearly near issue date, they'll be gems of the future.

Great to see a modern PO issue doing so well, and exciting to be able to watch this superb horse break all those records. 


SG China/HK/Taiwan/Macao


The most “recent” Yang CHINA catalogue is near FOUR years old I understand.  And that does NOT list the tricky and extensive pre-war issues. 

The second last Stanley Gibbons “China” catalogue was published SIX years ago.  It was overhauled and updated last year.

Such was the global popularity of that edition,  that it was completely sold out within a few months.

Under normal circumstances the catalogue would probably have been reprinted, but there are no “normal circumstances”  in the China market - with demand from local collectors pushing up prices.

Hence the prices shown in the 2011 edition were considered sufficiently out of date for a thorough revision to be required, the Gibbons catalogue department tell me.


Now 465 pages and 1 Kilo


This large new tome is about 465 pages thick, and weighs right on a kilogram - or 2.2 pounds for American readers!

It also lists and prices Hong Kong in detail, and Taiwan (both) and Macao and Manchukuo. 

And all the Japanese occupations (pages of those!) and German, Russian, Indo-China, French and USA occupation issues etc.

And the complex British Zones and regions etc.  A very well filled volume.


  Essential to have on your desk


There are pages of Chinese local posts/courier posts - often found in old albums and sometimes are worth many $100s each. Without this book you will never know!

All prices were updated very recently.  Whether you collect or re-sell this area, you MUST have this book, or you will cost yourself money.

Right now using even a year old catalogue for China means you might be selling for HALF the current market - true.

Sell one set for $125 that is really getting $200+ on the informed market, and you have paid for the cat right there by your LOSS, as you are out of the loop!


Yang Cat drawbacks


The huge drawback of Yang for most folks (apart from being WAY out of date!) is that nothing before WW2 is listed. 

There are some very red hot areas in that huge time band, and having an out of date book for them is near useless.

Yang must have taken leave of their senses for not producing an ANNUAL catalogue for China, given the very volatile stamp market.

The other thing that drives me NUTS using Yang for China is that the stamps are listed in many different sections.  A 1974 set can be hidden in many places.

SG lists things in strict date order which is logical and easy to follow.  I do not care if they are “T”  or “J” or “N” series etc.  I want to be able to find them FAST!

China issued their sets in year order, and using Yang can take an hour to look up 6 Hagners - that you can do in 5 minutes with SG.

Middle ground and common post war sets, like the 1962 Mei Lang Fang used are cat $US170 in Yang and fetch up to treble that at any auction right now.

So using a "current" Yang for selling will lose you 3 times what this books costs - on a single simple run of the mill set.


Attractive retail this year.


I’ve sold quite a few since getting these books in stock, and all leading dealers globally will have copies.  They are $A85 locally, and for 465 colour pages, very good value.

UK retail is £48, and only a few years back that would have meant a local retail of $150 or so when Forex and shipping were costed in. 

As an illustration of WHY everyone needs this book, here is a perfect example from recent times.  That cost ME money!

On stampboards I listed up 5 slip-cased stockbooks of “Junk” for $A135 - – it all looked pretty junky to me anyway.

I’d just bought it, and was chatting on the phone whilst taking photos, and being lazy, decided the few China in there also looked like junk in my view.

So I allowed zero for them, as you can see from the many photos on the link.


 “One man’s Junk is ……”


Only AFTER it was sold 12 minutes later – pretty normal for my bulky junk lots – did I note the dreary looking 1974 Turbine/Harvester set in fresh mint was cat £350 in the last  Gibbons! 


£500 set given away


In the new edition this absolutely dreary looking quartet goes up to £500.  Does this look like £500 to anyone here?!

Value £140 EACH stamp.  They are only $US140 the set of 4 in the ancient Yang – a perfect example of how far values have moved on China.  They were £65 the SET in the previous SG!

So even an experienced dealer basically gave away a £500 set.  For less experienced sellers, having this book on hand will likely pay for itself the first time you use it. 

The catalogue is paid for many times over in just the one case, of the one set highlighted here.  $A85 well spent.  “Knowledge Is Power”.

Design indexes have been compiled for both the People’s Republic and Macao in this edition.

The glossary translating terms into other languages has been augmented, with listings in both traditional and modern Chinese.

Further colour illustrations have been added, and a number of other improvements have been made, throughout the listings.

A great job from the SG Catalogues Department staff all round.


Strong increases


Prices are up throughout with some significant increases, bearing in mind the VERY short time span between the 8th and 9th editions.

In the Imperial Post period errors such as the ‘small figures’ surcharge double and surcharge inverted on the 2c on 2ca green (SG 39d and 39e) are up from £18,000/16,000 (mint/used) to £42,000/38,000.

The 30c on 24ca deep rose-red mint (SG 65) rises from £800 to £2,500, and the 2c on 2ca green (SG 71) puts on £75,000 to a lazy £275,000!


Over doubled in 1 year.


In the Communist and early People’s Republic periods, the heaviest increases are mainly for mint, although used are also up in many cases.

The 1959 20f deep carmine, Tenth Anniversary of the People’s Republic stamp (SG 1861) jumps from £50 to £325, and the 1967 ‘Poems of Mao Tse-Tung’ (SG 2372/85) are up from £3,750 to £8,000 – over doubled.

The two stamps from this “Poems” set shown nearby, are now catalogued at over £4,000 alone.

Recent issues also see many increases, especially used, and there are significant changes also to the foreign post offices, Macao and Taiwan.

This catalogue also lists Hong Kong from 1862 to date  Booklets, Dues, Postal Fiscals etc, with all plate and watermark varieties, and Specimens etc.  A very handy section.

Did you know an inverted watermark on the common HK 1977 20c Tourism low value was cat £500 mint and £200 used?  A few cents otherwise.  Well you do NOW!




We all know postage stamps have been used for propaganda purposes from almost their inception.

Many causes – noble or otherwise, have been peddled via the humble postage stamp.

New Zealand Post had its hands full in recent times, through a chap mostly known as Bruce Henderson, a long time thorn in the side of NZ Post.





He was stopped 40 years ago from charging to deliver mail by pushbike in Timaru, South Island - on the coast just south of Christchurch.

Henderson submitted a design to the NZ Post Business Section for CALs (Customised Advertising Labels) to be printed by NZ Post.

CALs are valid postage stamps in NZ.  Application was made, the design was approved, and the required payment made.

The design had the Tibetan flag as central design element, and the dates on it related to the 50th Anniversary of the Tibetan uprising.


PO demanded their return              


After the stamps were handed over, the NZ Post belatedly realised the Tibet based stamps were a political message, and would possibly offend the Chinese, so they demanded their return.

As can be seen, the official NZPO Logo is on the stamps at lower right of the stamps.

Henderson joined and outlined his version of the story thereafter -

“I was keen to mount a ‘discrimination’ case against NZ Post, so submitted a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.”

“They ordered a mediation meeting, so Ivor Masters NZPO and I met in a stormy three-hour session at the HRC office in Auckland.”

“Ivor was obstinate, and just kept repeating ‘
they violate our terms and conditions’ -  for
showing a ‘political’ topic like a flag.”

“I urged him to reflect on other cases where he has permitted CALs to show such things as Sri Lanka, Buddhists, Moslems, and even the famous Vietnamese politician Phan Boi Chau.  And none of those were ever restricted.”

“I then received a multi-page legal opinion from the Human Rights Commission's chief lawyer. I'm happy to supply photocopies of this to anyone interested.”

“Today, the Tibet flag CALS have notoriety in NZ, and are among the more elusive CALS around, mainly due to not being included in the NZPO annual "collector packs".

“The current Mowbray auction offers some mint blocks with estimate over $1,000, while used blocks are on Trademe at over $2,000.”


The one that got away


All very interesting, and Henderson even mailed me the cover shown nearby, with one of these stamps on it, to see if it passed through the mail.

As can be seen it arrived without incident, despite the prominent “HELP FREE TIBET – Boycott Chinese Products” sticker affixed on the front.

I asked for it to be backstamped at my Post Office for “proving” purposes - which it was, on March 12, 2012.

I feel sorry for the plight of the Tibetans I must admit, and if anyone collects these, please contact me, and the highest donation offer to their cause will own it. 







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