The most innovative and
attractive set of new stamps
I have seen for ages was
issued in January.
Royal Mail in Great Britain
issued a set of stamps and
mini sheets to commemorate
the meeting of Paul
McCartney and John Lennon in
1957 - 50 years ago.
They went on to form one of
the most famous song writing
teams in musical history.
Lennon was 16 and had
already formed a band called
The Quarry Men who were
booked to perform 'skiffle'
music at the Woolton Parish
Church Garden Fete on 6 July
After the event John was
introduced to Paul.
McCartney played some Rock
'n' Roll numbers for Lennon,
who was very impressed with
his talent. Paul then
became a member of The
Quarry Men and his first gig
with them was in October
The six self-adhesive stamps
feature some of the band’s
iconic album covers,
including many fans’ firm
and classic releases like
"Sgt Pepper’s Lonely
Hearts Club Band" and
Each self-adhesive sheet
stamp in the collection has
two designs - the first
Royal Mail self-adhesive
stamps to do so.
The four-stamp miniature
sheet takes a look at some
of the memorabilia produced
for eager fans of the
world’s first super-group,
including their first
single, "Love Me Do."
The albums depicted in order of denomination are
"With the Beatles" on a first-class
stamp. "Help!" is on the 64-pence and
the groundbreaking 1966 album "Revolver"
is depicted on the 72p. "Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band " is on another
"Abbey Road" (with the famous photo of
the band walking across the street) is on the
64p and "Let it Be", released in 1970
after the Beatles broke up, is on the 72p
The Beatles stamps, with their irregular
self-adhesive shapes, are cleverly free formed
around a crooked stack of albums.
Songwriter and singer John Lennon was shot to
death in New York City by a "fan" outside his
apartment on Dec. 8, 1980.
Lead guitarist George Harrison, sometimes called
the silent Beatle, died of cancer on Nov. 29,
Paul McCartney has been heavily in the news
recently with his acrimonious divorce from
The British stamps have caused a minor sensation
in New Zealand where even New Zealand Post has
imported stock to sell to its own customers!
New Zealand Post’s Stamps General Manager, Ivor
Masters, predicts the stamps will be a big hit
with Beatles fans there too.
“The Fab Four’s music still resonates around
the world decades after they split, so Beatles
memorabilia is still extremely popular. As this
is the first time Beatles stamps have been sold
here we think they will prove to be just as
popular as they are in England” he said.
Mr Masters says supplies of the stamps are
limited in New Zealand. “But we will assess
demand and order more stamps from Royal Mail
should we need to.”
In England the stamps have reportedly smashed
the sales record for all earlier commemorative
The Royal Mail's Julietta Edgar said : "judging
by the unprecedented response we have already
received from collectors and the public, the
Beatles' stamps are on course to be our best
selling issue internationally."
"We chose to celebrate the Beatles because
of their contribution to the world -- and that
popularity has been demonstrated by the interest
this stamp issue has received across the globe"
The music sales success of these Liverpool "long
hairs" is un-precedented in pop music history.
been covered on disc
over 2,500 times - more
than any other song in
the history of pop
The chart success of the
albums depicted on the
stamps was enormous.
"With The Beatles"
was just their second
album release on 22
November 1963. That LP
stayed at No. 1 in the
charts for 21
Lonely Hearts Club Band"
was released on 1 June
1967. It entered the UK
chart two days later and
stayed at No.1 for 23
weeks from 10 June
1967. Nearly 6 months
Most new issue dealers
will of course stock
these issues. I noticed
a great UK website
offering these and all
the associated material.
different pictorial FDI
the site, and Manager
Ian Billings told me he
had received orders from
new customers all over
the globe as the website
got a high google match.
Lennon Stamp Album
Readers of my column may
recall my reporting in mid
2005 that John's Lennon's
childhood stamp album had
just sold for $A73,377.
The photograph nearby shows
the facing New Zealand pages
of a clearly dilapidated
album, one obviously formed
by a youngster.
I see dozens, sometime hundreds
of kid's albums a year that look
very similar. In general they
are worth from $1 to $10 each.
Probably most of the readers of
this magazine started their
collecting interest via such an
Arthur Gray - whose
amazing "Kangaroos' collection
will fetch around $10 million at
Shreves auction in New York as
we go to press told me his
collection started in such an
The Lennon album is dirty,
dog-eared, creased and stained,
and contains only a few 100 near
worthless stamps, untidily
arranged in no chronological
Stanley Gibbons had the album
for sale for £29.950 but refused
to tell me who the buyer was.
The Smithsonian National Postal
Museum in Washington DC then
publicly announced June 28, 2005
that they were the buyer.
On the album’s title page,
beards and moustaches are drawn
in blue ink on the likenesses of
British monarchs, including
Queen Victoria and King George
VI - an early sign of the famous
Sold for 6,037 times
Our American cousins often do strange things with
In recent times they are paying quite insane
amounts of money for incredibly common stamps that are very well
My past columns have reported auction multiples
of 100 - then 338 times full Scott catalogue in April 2006. That is
very old news. Now we have reached 6,037 times full catalogue
I get regular auction catalogues from Nutmeg
Stamp Sales in the USA devoted primarily to such well centred USA
The January 27 sale got some truly nutty prices
for very common stamps.
This piece does not criticise those selling the
"100" stamps - that is just business, but is a warning to
buyers that price multiples like this will be short lived, and prove
a very costly mistake to the buyers.
The 1934 3¢ Mt. Rainier stamp illustrated nearby
- Scott 742 was one that caught my eye. The Scott catalogue value
for mint unhinged on this stamp in "very fine" centering MUH is
20c. That frankly is what I'd sell it for.
Indeed, I sell these things at or under face
value in 1930's full sheet job lots - as do most other dealers, as
they are very plentiful. Many possess quite
excellent centering and appearance.
Scott has 20¢ as a MINIMUM book value on any
stamp - not to reflect its actual worth, but as a dealer "handling
charge" in effect.
This stamp just sold at public auction for
$US1,050 plus the ubiquitous 15% "buyer fee" = $US1,207.50.
The kind of money that I just sold a reasonable mint 1913 £1
That is 6,037 times full
Scott value. For an exceedingly common stamp of which over
95 MILLION were sold. Clearly many THOUSANDS of identical
copies exist - simply as no-one has (yet) bothered getting numerical
grading Certs done on them!
Sold for $US1,207.50!
The stamp was graded 100 out of 100. I certainly
would not give it anything like a perfect grade, as I personally
hate "hang-nail" corner perfs like this has at top right. In fact 3
of the corners I do not really like.
They visually detract from a "perfect" looking
stamp. Well formed corners most certainly DO exist on perfect
centred stamps. THEY might get a 100 score. But
this one could most certainly be improved upon very readily.
The folks writing these Certs need to rapidly get
a grip on reality. A "100/100" score indicates no finer copy can
exist. With this copy I'd disagree with them most strongly.
Thousands of copies would look better than this example. So how on
earth did it get a perfect "100" score?
PSE appear to place no importance whatever on
ugly, short or untidy looking perfs or corners in its "eye appeal"
That in my view is a fatal flaw in their
numerical grading system, if it is ever to be taken seriously on a
global stage, and not become a laughing stock -
In 10 years time will the buyer of this stamp, or
the buyer of my similar priced £1 Roo, or 3 of the USA 1847 5¢
imperf classics below be better off financially? The answer to that
question dear reader, I will bet my house on.
For anyone seeking more information on where such
unsustainable prices for common stamps will most certainly end
up, please google the words "Dutch Tulip Boom."
To perfectly illustrate my point, the very same
auction sale offered a most attractive, 4 very wide margin lightly
used copy of the USA 1847 5¢ Ben Franklin imperf.
Scott 1B with 2006 PSE Certificate - no thins or
repairs. It sold for $US350 plus fee on a Scott value of $US850. THREE
of those for $1,050 plus fee, or the one 3¢ violet above for the
same price - absolutely NO contest for a wise buyer.
Piece Of History
This is a shameless plug in one way for
an item I have for sale - and an interesting record of
philatelic history in another.
An English client recently asked me to sell on his behalf
some documents apparently unique in private hands that
relate to the later developments of postage stamps - and in
part led to the American Revolution!
They are most unusual, and must be the oldest items I have
ever offered for sale, so have summarised them here.
He owns the official abstracts of the Acts
that first sanctioned the use of duty stamps
on various documents in 1694 ..... 76 years
before Captain Cook first set foot in
They are not the far more common "Acts Of
Parliament" extracts as typically appear on
the market - one is a book, the other is a
NO other copies are
recorded in private hands of this historic
These were the actual Acts that first
initiated the use of Adhesive Stamps in
As many students of philately realise, the
very first "stamps" were embossed on to "cypher"
blue paper, which was attached to
British documents used for a variety of
purposes in payment of the official fee.
This was a revenue-raising operation to fund
war with the French, and intended as a
temporary measure. (Ho, ho,ho.) These
documents were to put that process in train
The first of these items I am offering was unsold in
Stanley Gibbon's London 14th December 2006 auction
(lot 922) where Gibbons placed an estimate of
£15,000 to £17,000 (=$A37,500 to $A42,500) upon that
single document .
The text was illustrated in colour in the auction
catalogue on plate 4, and in 'Gibbons Stamp
Monthly' (November 2006, page.30, UK edition).
The full SG Catalogue description is on my website.
The document is a 27 extensive page item, with a 4
The second item I am offering along with it, is
considerably rarer than the one Gibbons ran to
auction. It is unlikely that both variants will
appear for sale together again. The seller bought
both separately, and it is believed this is the
first time a private collector has owned both at one
Someone may care to buy them and
donate them in the philanthropic
tradition to a National Postal
Museum or similar body, and take the
tax deduction for their "assessed"
value? I feel sure many qualified
appraisers would rate their value to
be several times my asking price,
especially if given the Gibbons
auction estimate as a
recent price reference guide.
These are the key texts for any
English Revenue collectors - indeed
for serious stamp collectors. And
would make for a most impressive -
and unique - preamble to any classic
exhibit in this field.
There are NO "Private Collection"
copies listed in the English Short
Title Catalogue. (ESTC) There may
be other (unknown) copies held
privately, but it is not likely, and
the highly respected ESTC is a good
indicator of rarity. The 'book'
copy (as opposed to the 'pamphlet'
copy) is exceptionally rare.
Of the main text the only other
copies recorded are at the Bodleian
Library, Oxford, and at the Folger
Shakespeare Library. HOWEVER, the
Folger copy is a fragment, being
only the third part. (The Bodleian
Library is the main research library
of the University of Oxford.)
One of the 1694 texts mentions a
Thomas Arden. I am not sure if this
might be one of the landed gentry
Ardens - Shakespeare's mother's
family. More research would be
needed. However, if so, that would
be the icing on the cake. (Mary
Arden was William Shakespeare's
If any research minded reader knows
more on this - please contact me! A
fragment of this same document is in
the impressive Folger Shakespeare
Library in Washington DC, hence my
strong suspicion of the
direct family connection.
These documents were written just 28
years after the Great Fire Of London
- which is mentioned in the text -
some records were lost in the fire
and they have pieced together what
they could when compiling the work.
The small "holes" you can see in the
photo by the central spine, are the
original "stab holes". When
pamphlets were printed they were
folded and 'stabbed'. They could
then be held together with cord
through these holes when the leaves
were slit on the edges to separate
They are gorgeous. Well over three
hundred years old, yet written in
English, and are proper working
texts, describing the operation of
the basic services of legal and
The actual officers that dealt with
the taxes and fees are named in the
'Exact Table of Fees' (including
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