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

       March 2004




By Glen Stephens.


       Knowledge is Power



I have been writing columns in this and other stamp magazines for nearly 25 years.

The one thing I have stressed 100 times is that in this hobby: "Knowledge Is Power".

It always astounds me so many dealers and collectors do NOT buy and own catalogues and handbooks that could readily make them $100s "richer" in minutes.

One new catalogue I outline below is a perfect example of one you should consider purchasing.

Australia has THE best stamp catalogues of any country on earth in my view. No-one else comes close.

The Australian Commonwealth Specialists' Catalogue (ACSC) edited by Dr. Geoff Kellow leads the world. Germany, the UK and USA have nothing even remotely close.

The "Stanley Gibbons GB Specialised" multi volume set is a sick joke in comparison. Lacking 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, and much other essential detail is 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. And even the Michel German Specialised is nowhere remotely near as detailed as the ACSC.

Final ACSC now released

Now the ninth and final ACSC volume has been published you MUST buy a set if you collect Australian stamps, Dues or Booklets. Volume 9, "Decimals III" was a whopping 511 pages alone. An opus work.

I offered clients a special '$100 off' offer recently on the full set and they sold very well. I hope lots of collectors support this superb undertaking and secure a set from their favourite dealer today.

Rodney A. Perry is to be applauded for the substantial sum of money and ongoing support that he put behind this massive project over the years through the Brusden White publishing arm. And Dr. Geoff Kellow was an editor without par for this series of catalogues. Meticulous and scholarly original research in all volumes. The resultant 9 volume set is something both men should be enormously proud of.

The 'general' Australia catalogues such as the spiro bound full size A4 format, full colour "Comprehensive" as I reviewed here recently are world class too. Superb colour illustrations, and prices of stamps on FDC and PO packs etc. For under $A40 it is also a superb buy for the general collector.

Paul Walker and Frank Pauer are about to produce the world's most astounding First Day Cover catalogue - more details when I have a copy to review. This will revolutionise the collecting of Australian FDC's - no doubt about it. It has been many years in the genesis now, and there are 1000s of colour FDC scans involved.

Many of the other 'niche' catalogues that Australia produces are also incredibly useful. One that has become famous in its own right is Nelson Eustis's "Australian Airmail Catalogue" (AAMC) which was issued in a new 7th volume before Nelson's recent sad passing.

An essential work and one which may not be updated in the future - I really have no idea. Since 1937 it has been the "bible" for aerophilately to both collectors and dealers. All leading dealers stock this work, and it is a "must buy" at about $A80 ... 400 pages of invaluable background info and pricing.

New Airmail "Labels and Vignettes" Catalogue

One new addition to the general airmail field caught my eye this week.

The excellent new catalogue.

Just released, it covers these fascinating Australian issues from 1920-1960 and is based on the Gold Medal winning collection of Tom Frommer from Canberra.

This is an absolutely superbly produced volume, published by Charles Leski in Melbourne.

Charles has positioned himself to be the world's leading auctioneer and dealer of Australian airmail related material. His auctions of this material have achieved many amazing and world record prices.

This new Catalogue costs $A78.50 post free in Australia and is only $A90 worldwide Airposted free. His website is or refer to his page ad in February "Stamp News" for any other details.

This is a large A4 sized book, and every page has magnificent colour illustrations on every page - they best you'll see anywhere in a stamp handbook. I heartily recommend this volume for every stamp library - even if this field is NOT your main interest.

It is a limited edition of 500 copies, that I have no doubt will sell out rapidly. And often such books have high secondary market value if they sell out.

Just stumbling across one half decent label in your collection or your stock that you did not recognise was scarce will pay for this volume several times over.

 Ross Smith Vignette Mint valued at $25,000

              The legendary1919 Ross Smith vignette.

The material priced here ranges from the legendary 1920 Ross Smith vignette - at $25,000 mint - the highest priced single non-error stamp item from Australia ... and it is not even an official postage stamp! A wonderful cover bearing this issue sold for about $A50,000 in late 2003 at a London auction.

The catalogue then goes into the famous early 1920s "Herald" and "Pals" labels which run to $4,000 per sheetlet of 4. I have OFTEN found these labels in otherwise very ordinary schoolboy albums. Be vigilant!

From there onwards the territory is largely uncharted waters, illustrating and pricing the many early airmail special labels and stickers. Starting with the 1922 Qantas label, of which only 5 singles are known to exist ($2,000 each) or $7,500 if used on cover - of which 10 are recorded.

From 1923 Qantas issued air mail labels in small booklets. The first (January) booklet is rare - only 2 are known and catalogue value is $3,000. Even a pane of 6 labels is rated at $600.   And these are simple and totally unremarkable looking stickers saying simply: "By Air Mail" - hence my suggestion this new catalogue is an invaluable library item for EVERY dealer. Most dealers - me included - would not cast a second glance if a few panes of these were in an envelope. You might be passing by $1000s of value. The word 'Qantas' does not appear on the labels or outer booklet covers.


  'Pals' Labels can be worth $4,000 a block.

   Each pane of 6 of these is  worth $600.

The range of later Qantas labels is extensive and impressive. They are priced singly, in mint panes, in booklets and on cover. You need this book to be able to identify many of them.

The 5 different 1924 colour Wing Commander Goble vignettes ($250 each mint) are not known on any cover - which surprised me. The very attractive 1925 Australian Aerial Services "Angel" vignettes came in booklet and sheet form, and even imperf between exists on both!

Even some Qantas airmail labels into the 1930s are rated at $1,250 a booklet of 3 panes, or $350 per single pane. These honestly are things most of us would not look twice at until now.

The most attractive 1930s labels are Ernie Crome's large 1933 Pigeongram "Gala Day" productions. These colourful labels had Ernie's entrepreneurial flair showing early on - they came with regular and inverted overprints in "error"!

Much of the later material is also perennially popular. The SHB "Wasp" and "Southern Cross" vignettes especially so - designs also courtesy of Ernie Crome.

The 1936 South Australia Centenary Cinderella sheet of 30 gets a listing as there was an Air Race component label in there. The value of the sheetlet ($600) is mainly due to the Donald Bradman labels being hugely popular with cricket collectors.

Even the 1950s are valuable

I was amazed at how many large and special labels Qantas produced in the 1940s and 1950s. I have been a dealer for about 25 years and can honestly say about half of these I have never once set eyes upon. Some of these even up to the early 1950s are worth $100 a label. Or more than this entire catalogue will cost you.

And that is my point for writing this article. "Knowledge is power."

Last week if I saw in a stockbook or childhood album a small sheet of 15 Qantas publicity stickers in horrible garish colours from 1953 I'd not have given them a second glance.

NOW I know them to be Frommer #93b, and KNOW they have a value of $A300! They will NOT be staying unloved in any further stockbooks I see them in!

In general I'd say the values given in the catalogue seem fair and sensible to me, given that one seldom encounters much of it at all in my experience. The value of having the book is that when you DO find some Airmail labels that look 'worthless' you can readily identify them by Frommer number and catalogue value.

Conversely, for anyone reading this that is a little jaded with their present collecting interests - why not secure a copy of this catalogue and start a whole new field? This book allows you to see precisely what is out there to obtain. And you can bet your life MOST dealers will not have a clue this material is so scarce if you start on it soon!

My hunch is many of the prices are well BELOW what they would fetch right now on the open market.

The 1920 Sir Ross Smith official Prime Ministerial Canberra luncheon Menu with the Vignette (in multi-colour!) on front cover, Coat of Arms crest and tricolour ribbon fastening, is listed as Frommer #1L at $600. This looks incredibly conservative to me and I'll pay that price right now for a nice example if anyone has one.

Contact Glen Stephens:

Box 7, Castlecrag. NSW. 2068. Australia.
Phone - (02) 9958 1333




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