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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

June 2008




Puzzling Perforations


The advent of high tech perforators has given rise to all kinds of strange and irregular things in recent years.

The curious Great Britain “elliptical” perfs have been used on Machin and high values for many years.

In my opinion the massive £10 Britannia issue of 1993 is easily the most attractive British stamp issued in the past 80 years since the 1929 £1 PUC … which also featured Britannia.

And is getting to be a VERY sought after stamp both mint and FINE used as it had a short life.  Mint is already up to £40 apiece in Stanley Gibbons catalogues.

This £10 stamp had no less than seven different high tech security features.  From impressed Braille dots, incredibly fine micro printing, and these scallops.


GB 1993 £10 Britannia



Mayday Mayday



One set that has a perforation feature that does NOT look deliberate is the recent GB “Mayday - Rescue at Sea” issue of March 13, 2008.

This set of 6 values and the designs depict various sea based rescues from Sikorsky S61N helicopters,  to the 5 metre “D” class inflatable boat depicted on the 54p middle value shown nearby.


Dot – Dash - Dot


As you can clearly see, the horizontal perforations look rather strange.

If you look at the lower margin on this used pair, they appear to be just roughly separated.

However if you examine the unsevered line of perforations carefully you’ll notice they are not regular perforations, but a series of horizontal slits and small circles.

Why?  Well as anyone who has earned a Boy Scouts semaphore badge etc might know, they represent the 3 dots and 3 long dashes and 3 dots that are the universal signal code for the famous “SOS” emergency call.

Why issue it this year you may ask?  To commemorate the centenary of the implementation of the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, which was signed on November 3rd, 1906, and became effective on July 1st 1908.

A single copy of these stamps will however look like it is roughly separated. I am glad they only managed to mangle one stamp issue with this type of perforation “gimmick”.


On All Portugal Stamps


Portugal have also had a rush of blood to the head and have issued ALL stamps since January 22nd, 2008 with a Cruz de Cristo (Cross of Christ) syncopated perforation on each side as shown nearby .. even stamps in miniature sheets have this feature.

One of the members of is based in Portugal, and posted up an number of scans of their recent issues showing this unusual cross on this weblink for those interested - 


Seeing Double!



Who says new discoveries can’t turn up in unexpected places?

Dealer Kevin Morgan bought some Kangaroos off Richard Juzwin, took a few better items out of it for auction as separate lots, and sold off the balance.

One of the better items taken aside was a group of 8 x perforated large “OS” 1913 Kangaroos. 

It went to auction at 21st Century Auctions on November 30, 2007, and attracted no bidders.

Melbourne dealer David Wood was glancing through the unsold lots, and bought this card of Kangaroos for stock for a nominal sum.

On closer inspection he noticed the 2/- value appeared to have a doubled frame line at base.  A closer look revealed more doubling.



Exciting new discovery



Wood checked the ACSC, and realised this was the "double print" variety catalogued at $7,500.  The footnote indicated that only 2 copies were recorded, both used, one of which is in the Royal Collection.

Further research has confirmed that this is in fact only the third copy of this variety to be discovered.  All three copies show a similar example of the "double print" and all are postmarked in Melbourne during July 1914.

The ACSC catalogue makes a note that this is probably a “kiss print” rather than a true double print.

In fact all the other “double prints” in the Kangaroo issues are thought to be actually kiss prints.  (A “kiss print” occurs when paper "flaps" onto the printing plate twice - usually caused by the paper not sitting flat.)



True Double Print?


Typically this affects only part of the design. The "double" print of the 5/- Roo is typical of this flaw.  What is interesting is that this 2/- example has an all-over doubling, as do the other two known 2/- copies.

To my mind this makes it more likely to be a genuine double print, particularly when you consider that 3 stamps would be a typical survival rate from one sheet of stamps from this era.

On the other hand, a number of senior collectors are just as firmly convinced that it must still be a "kiss print".  Who really knows after 95 years?

However the stamp recently received a 2008 RPSV Certificate, stating it is a genuine copy of ACSC 35c “Double Print”, and that is the final word.

This is not a cheap stamp even in normal condition, being about $300 for a nice looking used copy these days. This one is not so nice looking of course, but when there are just 2 copies in private hands, beggars can’t be choosers!



No example in Gray



Even the astounding $7¼ million Arthur Gray Kangaroo collection did not contain this error.  One of the few SG listed Kangaroo errors he was missing – possibly the only one.


Sold for $6,400
The Gray collection did however have a used 5/- second watermark “double print” and that enables a meaningful price comparison.  That sold as lot 392 for about $A6,400.  Five used copies of that are recorded – two in the Royal Collection.

It is clear the 2/- is numerically scarcer, and being a dark brown stamp the error shows wonderfully.  One the mint and used 5/- examples it is of course VERY hard to notice this error with the naked eye, as yellow prints very “lightly” on white.

Premier Postal Auctions in Melbourne will be auctioning this 2/- new discovery in the near future. Contact them for further information as to sale date.

If you asked me for a guess as to value – about full ACSC of $7,500 would not surprise me at all ….  even though that figure was predicated on a single copy being buyable.

A new discovery should in theory halve that value, but rare stamp prices do not work quite that neatly and precisely.  This stamp is of course these days listed in Stanley Gibbons at SG 011a - at £3,000 for used.

I also point out the 5/- second watermark Roo mentioned above also has several MINT copies known – the Gray mint example sold for $A24,000.  Gray’s mint “OS” of the same 5/- got $19,500.  So for anyone collecting Kangaroos they have a choice of mint or used or perf “OS” on that one.  Not so with this 2/-!

I asked the discoverer David Wood today what he plans to estimate the stamp at, and he advised that $6,000-$6,500 will be the likely estimate.

“My research shows the other 2 copies were reported as far back as 1926, so my new discovery is the first new example to appear for over 80 years”  Wood told me today.

It all goes to show what I type here often – “Knowledge Is Power” in this hobby.  Here we have 2 major dealers and their staffs who did not notice the error.


New discoveries possible

Nor did those who perused the printed sale catalogue, and the on-line catalogue, where this was illustrated.  New major discoveries ARE possible.

Any stamp with a SG listing gets a huge international support in many cases.  I saw that first hand in New York last February at the Arthur Gray sale, where a New York dealer was bidding on behalf of a very wealthy client.

The client was collecting “Official” stamps of the British Commonwealth as listed by SG, and had told the dealer to “go buy at any price” all the “Official” stamps in Gray that he did not have.

A very, very dangerous instruction to give to your auction bidder, unless you are VERY wealthy.




Gladiator Special!


The resultant bidding war was often like a scene from “Gladiators”!  I was sitting a metre behind the hammer and tongs bidding battle between two dealers.

The most hotly contested lot was a £2 1913 First Watermark Roo with large “OS” perfin - illustrated nearby.

One bidder was John Zuckerman, Vice President of Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, bidding for his wealthy client.

The other bidder was Paul Fletcher, owner of Millennium Auctions in Sydney, and the ACSC.  Paul apparently was bidding for his own collection. 


Six Times Catalogue

The bidding battle was intense, and stopped in the room at $US40,000 – which when invoiced out with the nasty commissions, and exchange rate at that time, was near enough to $A60,000 - or six times full catalogue.  All for a used Roo!

"My client is pleased with the purchase"  Zuckerman told me after the sale. 

Michael Eastick had a very similar stamp on his website recently, also with the same corner cancel of “Public Offices”. 

Zuckerman's paddle number 247 also paid incredible prices at the same Gray sale for the same client. 

He bought the 1929 10/- and £2 used Small Multiple watermark "OS" punctures - at $US15,525  (then $A19,905) and $US26,450 ($A33,912)  respectively. 

I certainly did not believe the 10/- offered in the sale was genuine, and several others there shared my view.  For decades the £2 of this set was deemed not to have existed with genuine “OS” perfin. 


  Unique in used



I discovered a (still unique) mint £2 Small Multi perf "OS" in the USA about 15 years ago, and paid very little for it.  This had an exact matching perfin position, perfs and centering to the fine used Gray example, that he had owned for many years.


£2 S/Multi now listed



This discovery led to both mint and used copies being finally listed and priced in the ACSC, and then in SG only a few years back. These listings consequently led to Gary’s unique used copy selling for near $A34,000! 

The unique mint copy was auctioned by Prestige Auctions (Nelson sale) for $A13,225 way back in 2002. Today’s value easily double or treble that.

Until 1993 neither value were listed or priced in ACSC.  

In the 1996 edition the £2 (mint only) was priced and listed in ACSC based on my discovery matching Gray’s copy in positioning of the “OS” -  which was unusually high on both stamps – and both matched exactly.

These sky high prices for the “OS” stamps outlined above demonstrates I hope, that the SG listed 2/- brown new discovery may well prove a cheap buy at anything like the auction sale estimate.

In fact if David Wood is savvy, he will check with Mr Zuckerman to see if his client needs the SG 011a, and if so, he may not need to bother with an auction.  He knows what bubbly I drink!


Bird Brains?

“MargoZ” a member of discovered an interesting mess-up this month involving a new PNG bird stamp issue.

On January 25, 2008 PNG issued a set of 6 “Protected Birds” stamps and a miniature sheet with the same 6 values.

And just for good measure to milk the new issue collectors, an apparently needless issue of the 1K design as a high face 10 Kina value in a separate miniature sheet.

So far nothing too unusual, except the very high and excessive face value.

However with birds you need to know your tail-feathers, and they got one design horribly wrong.

The 85 Toea “Harpy Eagle” stamp does not depict PNG’s Harpy’s Eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae) at all.  It depicts an Eagle from Central and South America! (Harpypia harpyja)

This was detected by Field biologist Leo Legra, from the University of Kansas, who saw it whilst looking at the new set on the internet.

Legra publicised his discovery in the PNG press, and requested the error stamps be recalled.

His letter was published in “The National” newspaper in PNG on April 28.





The beautiful 30 toea stamp shown nearby from 1974 depicts the CORRECT PNG Harpy Eagle.

In his letter, Dr Legra gave a run down of the great differences in the two bird’s appearance, calls, and diet. 


“Recall It”

And went on to say: “given the above issues, I would ask that, whichever department(s) involved in the making of this new stamp to recall it and at least get the correct image of the New Guinea Harpy Eagle.”

“Secondly, I call on the respective department(s), organisation(s) or person(s) involved in this project to get your information correct and don’t mar the efforts that most of us (field-biologists) have put into studying species like the New Guinea Harpy Eagle with cheap shots such as the issues discussed above”
he concluded.

Now as anyone knows who has visited PNG - as I have a few times, nothing is simple or straighforward in the “Land Of The Unexpected”. 

“The National” soon followed up with an article headed “85t stamp withdrawn”, and stated in the first paragraph: “POST PNG is withdrawing the Papua New Guinea 85t stamp that was thought to depict an image of the New Guinea Harpy Eagle.”


The WRONG Eagle



These 2 paragraphs quoting Post PNG spokespersons followed each other, and of course totally contradcited each other as you can see!

“As a result of Legra’s feedback, Post PNG advised that the New Guinea Harpy Eagle stamp would be withdrawn from the primary market effective today.  It added that the corporation was committed in its goal of continuous improvement and it encouraged feedback from customers - “be it good news or bad”.

However, Post PNG’s Philatelic Bureau manager Kenei Gumaru said while Legra’ comments may be well-founded and worthy of review, they were outside the corporation’s domain. “Accordingly, the stamp will not be withdrawn,” he said.”


   Yes and No!   


So like many things in PNG, the answer is both YES and NO!

A wonderful bureaurcratic tangle, with 2 spokesmen for the same PO saying totally different things in adjoining sentences.

At the date of this being typed in mid May, the PNG Bureau website shows the error stamp as still being available for purchase at face value.

And who got it wrong you might ask?  Well a member of stampboards kindly sent me a scan of an imprint block 4 that you can see nearby.

It clearly says on it “DESIGNER - POST PNG PHILATELIC PRODUCTION”.  So there is your answer.  As we love blaming Kiwis for all things possible, the fact it was printed there I’d say makes them partly to blame!











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