Click To Go Back To The Main Stamps Homepage

 Welcome! You are visitor  
free counter to



The Glen Stephens (monthly)
Stamp News Column" Page.

      June 2003


Cover Stories …


By Glen Stephens.


In recent months there has been an exciting new field gaining many new fans.  It is not strictly a new field at all ... being 90 years old, but the approach and enthusiasm is new

That field is collecting Australian Commonwealth stamps on First Day Covers. (FDC)

The 1913 Kangaroos of course yielded the initial “FDC” for stamps inscribed ‘Australia.’   All are very valuable,  although my hunch is the prices of them all will keep increasing in the next few years.  A 1d Roo FDC sold for about $15,000 at Sydney auction in 2002,  versus an ACSC catalogue value of $5,000.

Even for the “common” 1d Kangaroo FDC only eight are known,  (3 of which are in Royal/AP collections)  and a few other low values are in the Royal Collection.  Only a few other 1913 values appear to exist on conclusive “First” day of issue covers. 

                                                             Post War FDCs “hot”

The REAL collecting area that is hotting up are the post war FDC’s  …. right up to the start of the Decimal currency era in 1966.  The first “cacheted” or inscribed FDC’s appeared in 1927 with the 1½d Parliament House Canberra issue

Very few readers would realise that this is the first ever “Wesley “ FDC.  Click HERE for enlarged view.
Decimal era FDC are quite competently catalogued, and most dealers are very aware of accurate prices.  As the Post Office commenced producing its own covers in 1970 in large numbers, they effectively killed off all the other cover makers.

Most collectors of Decimal era FDC want official Post Office covers.  The Seven Seas Stamps “ASC” colour catalogue lists and prices only Post Office covers from 1970 and that has set the trend, and largely killed off ‘non-official’ brands like Wesley.
 Other than the rare 1970 small sized Captain Cook Post Office cover, which even today is worth several $100,  an entire run of decimal era FDC will not cost a great deal.

I just priced up for my website an Estate buy of a large carton full - 1970 to end 1998 in 10 large Cumberland albums for $950 - that cost $1,400 to buy from the PO.   A complete run.  So scarcity is not high as you can see!  Full retail is only about $3,000 for this era.   
The PRE-DECIMAL field is an entirely different matter.  The 1950s in particular saw a myriad of cover makers,  as the Post Office was effectively not selling serviced FDC.  You could buy boring blank PO produced “generic” envelopes and create your own,  but these were not promoted  - or popular with collectors

                                                                       “Wesley” Covers

The best known and most plentiful private FDC’s were of course the “Wesley” brand.  So they clearly are the most collected.  They are still produced to this day but in a tiny handful for each issue.

Not many people knew this …. indeed I did not until this month but the first “Wesley” cover was issued in 1951 for the set of 4 “Jubilee Year” stamps.  These FDC were advertised as a charitable venture in support of the Wesley Nursing Home in Semaphore Park - an Adelaide seaside suburb.

It was not until the  November 1955 2/- Olympic that the now familiar circled “WCS” logo appeared.  To that point there was no “branding” or logo on any Wesley Cover Service (WCS) cover created or sold by John Gower.

This cover illustrated nearby then is the “First” item any collector of Wesley requires.  Right now it will sell from an informed dealer for about $40.  Leading FDC dealer A-One Stamps in Sydney told me today demand for this cover has firmed in recent months.

Buying from a dealer who has no clue it is the first Wesley (99% of dealers I imagine as there is no indication on the envelope that it is!) – will cost maybe a dollar or two.  In two years I suspect it will be a $100 cover in top condition simply as it is “Number One”.  Good hunting!

The founder of WCS  was John Gower,  who had an interesting history.  Gower contracted polio in 1930 and was crippled from the waist down.  This led him into a very active philatelic life.   He began the  “Kangaroo Correspondence and Exchange Club”  in Adelaide in 1931.

Only a few weeks ago, Australia’s leading FDC collector Frank Pauer from Melbourne (and Treasurer of the Society mentioned below) obtained from eBay a hitherto unrecorded Gower design cover from this era, dated December 1931

Frank told me today he would have paid “whatever it took” to secure this cover.  It certainly “took” him MANY $100s in the end.   Most dealers – or collectors would not have recognised its significance.  I certainly would not have.  It is the second earliest known Gower USEAGE of any cover.  (Frank owns the other!)

John Gower opened the Post Office at Largs North,  another Adelaide beach suburb on June 17, 1947.  Therefore a vast number of earlier WCS FDC are cancelled at Largs North,  starting with the September 1947 “Newcastle” trio. 

The second oldest John Gower cover known.
Click HERE for enlarged view.

Any FDC cancelled Largs North from 1946 are back-dated forgeries from the late 1940s and include the “Peace” and  “Mitchell” sets.  Both however are rare,  and command very good prices as curios. 

                    A new journal is born

A new philatelic journal has just been born. The Australian Cover Society went into print in March 2003 with their first journal.  Members are being asked to suggest a journal name.  I personally like “Cover Stories” and I am sure there will be many other catchy suggestions. 

The debut journal is 36 x A4 pages,  and is the  best stamp club journal I have EVER seen produced in this country – no contest. 
A real credit to all those involved. 
Editor is Michael Moore.  Professionally laid out,  like a real magazine,  with a range of fascinating,  accurate articles and superb illustrations.

I urge ANYONE with any interest in Australian FDC to sign up as a member.  The next journal comes out this month,  and all subscribers get issue #1 as part of their membership.  A complete run of these will one day be a valuable item on their own – trust me.

This is a new Society,  incorporated in September 2002,  and has about 100 members already.  They have a savvy and modern thinking Management Committee who even accept credit cards for membership!

Cost to join is a one time $10 and $25 a year dues thereafter for collectors residing ANYWHERE on earth – to encourage overseas members.   Address is PO Box 400768 Dandenong Victoria 3175 -  or email the President  ….

                                                          Fake Wesley FDC’s.

This journal is ESSENTIAL for every dealer to have as well.  I mentioned the nearby fake £2 Arms FDC to both Richard Juzwin and Simon Dunkerely at the recent ANDA show,  and both signed up promptly,  as dealers NEED precise journals like this to be warned of clever fakes.
A “FDC” like this was offered recently at Auction with a $1,500 reserve.  It is a careless - but convincing fake. Click HERE for enlarged view.
Issue “One” of the Journal has an excellent and invaluable article on “back dated” Wesley FDC’s.  These are not strictly forgeries,  as they use genuine WCS blank envelopes,  genuine stamps,  and genuine Largs North postmarkers.

The one of most concern money-wise is the 1950 £2 Arms.  A “FDC” identical to the one illustrated was offered recently by an auction with a reserve of $1,500 as unaddressed covers from 1950 are rare.  Senior FDC collectors succeeded in having it withdrawn.

So what is the problem you might ask?  A nice colourful WCS cacheted and unaddressed envelope,  with an apparently genuine Largs North postmark of 1950.

This is where fine philatelic literature pays off.  The $25 annual fee is well saved if a dealer or collector can avoid paying figures like $1,500 for this turkey.
Why is it a fake?   Well there are two compelling reasons.  (a) that “Generic” WCS Aboriginal envelope was not printed until 1961,  for use on the 5/- Cattle FDC.  (b) The canceller with “S.Aust” and not “South Aust” was not manufactured until about 15 years later!

How was it done?  Some collectors “helped” the wheelchair bound Gower,  and clearly had access at the time to the genuine Post Office handstamps – and the blank covers. Thus a “backdate” like this was sometimes possible.

A leading dealer agreed with me recently if such a cover was shown to him at a stamp show he’d have paid a VERY high sum for a nice clean and apparently genuine WCS cover – had he not read the article.

Series of Monographs

Secretary of the Australian Cover Society is Mike Moore, who has been author of 8 superb monographs on the early Australia FDC producers etc.  Famous names like Wesley,  Smyth,  Royal,  Guthrie,  Wide World and Challis are covered,  as are more obscure makers, and even the popular Royal Geographic Society (Queensland) series. 

Terrific historical background, price guides, and heavy use of good illustrations, these monographs really are most useful and informative.

Volume 8 was released recently which features Society patron – Arthur Bergen of Adelaide.  Arthur is a lovely guy – also VERY well known in the aerophilatelic field of course, and is still going strong at nearly 90!

“Bergen” FDC’s have an avid following,  and often fetch heady prices.  A 1956 Olympic Games FDC cancelled Adelaide Airport sold for $500 at a Rod Perry auction in 1998.  A “Wyatt Earp” ANARE cover fetched $US400 ($A650) at an internet auction etc.

Michael has conjured up a tremendous offer for readers of this column, and this has never been offered before - anywhere.  The first 7 volumes sold to original subscribers for over $100,  as the illustrations were all in colour - which is as we know is very expensive to print.

He has combined the first 7 volumes into one large A4 spirobound handbook.  This runs to 160 pages and weighs about 500 grams.  All the illustrations are monocolour and there are 50 pages of them with over 300 FDC’s pictured! 

The ‘Wesley’ volume has been updated and edited to include some very early covers plus some other necessary amendments to that and some other volumes.

                                                         $22 post free for readers

Michael has printed a HUNDRED copies of these, and has autographed and numbered the cover of each copy for readers here – i.e. 007/100 etc.  The cost is truly amazing - $22 post free anywhere in Australia or $30 AIR post free worldwide!

Now $22 is the price of a decent pizza,  and I urge ANYONE – dealer or collector - with a passing interest in covers to secure one of these excellent references.  Like all Limited Edition popular philatelic literature, the price is BOUND to rise in the secondary market.

You can order these direct off the Author/Publisher - Michael Moore at 47 Curletts Road, Lara, Victoria 3212 or email or contact leading cover dealers like ‘Stamp News’ advertiser A-One Stamps in NSW.

Both sources can accept credit cards for payment, or of course cash or cheques or money orders.  I repeat again -  $22 post free is THE bargain buy of your philatelic year.

The President of the Australian Cover Society is Melbourne collector Noel Almeida.  Noel is well known for publishing the excellent priced catalogues on Australian Souvenir covers.

Noel is also a passionate collector of cricket covers,  and has self-published a monograph called “Australian Cricket Stamps” devoted entirely to the myriad of Australian 1977 Cricket issue covers!  For more info on all these visit –

                                                          $942.98 for a 3½d FDC?

What brings Noel into this month’s column is the amazing price he paid at Auction late April for one rather ordinary looking 1955 FDC.  The photograph nearby shows the 3½d blue “USA Memorial” stamp on FDC.
This cover most dealers would sell for $1.  A keen collector just paid $943 for it. 
Click HERE for enlarged view.

This cover was one of a handful of otherwise very common looking Australian FDCs offered on eBay by a British seller.  Opening bid for the handful was £7 and Almeida ended up paying £375 or $A966.68 at that time.  The seller was flabbergasted of course.

Almeida worked out the other few covers were worth $A23.70 (and looking at them on screen that was rather generous!)  so he calculates he paid $A942.98 for the 3½d on cover.  Why?  Because he had not seen that cover maker before and he collects that stamp issue.

To be quite honest until this week if I saw that cover in a collection I’d leave it there, and value it at 50¢.  And most other dealers I think if they were honest would do the same.  Another local cover collector was underbidder at £365.

This is where reading these journals and doing some homework pays off.  There are LOTS of very scarce FDC from the 1950s.  Until now,  only a few keen collectors knew WHICH ones were scarce.  The Australian Cover Society is letting collectors get in on the ground floor with these.

                                                    Huge catalogue on way

This is one field of Australia related collecting that will explode in the next year or so.  Frank Pauer and Paul Walker are well underway toward publishing a quite massive work on the subject up to the early 1950s. 

On CD Rom there will be several THOUSAND full colour sharp scans and EVERY cover will be priced.  There will be about  8,000 different priced covers!

Most stamp dealers have boxes of pre-Decimal covers.  Many are priced at pennies each.  That will all change when the CD Rom is issued latter 2003.  In the meantime, savvy collectors buying and reading the Moore monographs and the Society Journal can snap up scarce maker FDC for peanuts that really are worth three figures etc.

The current Journal has a superb article on Max Easther FDCs - 1952-65.  These have no maker name on them,  and apart from being cancelled Launceston most would not pick them.  There are 37 illustrations to assist you.  Value even now is $100+ for the scarcer ones,  and this will surely rise.

There are VERY few fields where material is plentiful but cataloguing is effectively nil.  That very situation exists with FDC’s from the mid 1940s to 1966.   It is exciting and many will embrace it as fun area and a great challenge.

The collectors behind this new Society are passionate and enthusiastic about their field …. and that excitement even wore off on me!   If you are looking for a new challenge – join the Society,  buy Moore’s special 160 page book offer for $22,  and away you go. 

                                                       New rules for exhibits

Lastly but not leastly,  two Executives of the Australian Cover Society have worked hard in consultation with the Australian Philatelic Federation (APF)  to have the rules changed for exhibiting FDC.   “Newcastle 2003” (October 3-5) will be the first national to adopt the experimental new rules.

Rules associated with the FDC class in the USA were looked at for guidelines.  John Sadler and Frank Pauer (both medal winning FDC exhibitors) did a lot of work with the APF on this exciting new proposal, and it is hoped it wil attract a lot more exhibitors.

First Day use of postal stationary – even PSE’s are now permitted exhibits.   Even applicable souvenir covers and postmarks are admissible under the new experimental rules.  There are many pages of typed rules and notes and a lot of work has been done by all concerned.

Under the “Traditional” rules the “Importance” criteria plays a large part in eventual awards.  That has been abandoned for this class and the 10 marking points for that are now divided among “Treatment” and “Knowledge”.

I hope a lot of collectors enter for this,  even if only for the experience and the Australian Cover Society is keen to see a good number of entries from members.  For more details of the new guidelines and an entry form contact:

  Cover collectors get very passionate about their hobby.  Cover Society President Noel Almeida has this as his vehicle number plate!   


    Glen Stephens is a philatelic journalist and stamp dealer based in Sydney, Australia.


To order, click here. To read ordering instructions, click here.

Instant Currency Conversion
Universal Currency Converter
FREE! Just click here...

Order from Stevo on-line NOW!!   Click HERE




Life Member: ASDA, PTS, APS, ANDA. ALL Postage + Insurance is extra. Visa/BankCard/MasterCard/Diners/Amex all OK, even for "Lay-Bys"! All lots offered are subject to my usual Conditions of Sale, copy upon request or they are outlined in full on this Web site. Usually allow at least 14 days for order dispatch. If you want same day shipping please go elsewhere! I am Sydney's BIGGEST STAMP BUYER: Post me ANYTHING via Registered Mail for my same-day cheque. Avoid  NASTY auction "commissions" of GENERALLY 35% (12½ + 15% + GST, etc.) AND their five-month delays! Read this for details. I stock Australia & Pacifics nearly 100% complete 1913-1980. Ask for my LOW quote!

"Lothlórien," No. 4 The Tor Walk, CASTLECRAG (Sydney), N.S.W. 2068
Phone: (02) 9958-1333 Fax: (02) 9958-1444 (Both 25 Hours, 7 Days!)
Web Sites:,, or

Back to Lists of Stamp Lots for Sale


Time and Temp in Sunny Sydney!


Sign up AUTOMATICALLY to my world renowned bi-weekly stamp gossip mailing list!

Click here for full library of my unusual world travels!

E-mail Me - Click HERE Right Now For Regular Specials, News, 
Updates, etc and Other Great  Stuff!

Click here to get back to many lists of lists of stamps for sale at low $A Nett prices!

Click here to find out all you need to know about SELLING your stamps for SPOT CASH

Click here for the current Monthly "Internet Only" special offers - CHEAP!

Click HERE to read my recent International stamp magazine articles.

Click to go back to the main Stamps Homepage


Michael Eastick & Associates Pty. Ltd.Stamp Dealers.

Instant Currency Conversion
Universal Currency Converter
FREE! Just click here...

E-mail me at -

Every credit card shown is accepted WITHOUT fee.
Earn Frequent Flier points while buying at bargain prices!
ALL prices are in weak Ozzie Dollars. I charge NO nasty, nasty
"Buyer's Commission" on stamps like nearly every "Auction" does.