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March 2020


BREXIT - coin and stamp issues.


As all will realise, BREXIT has been the main topic of conversation in the UK for a year or three, and the FOR and AGAINST debates have effectively torn the country apart, and created a wave of political instability, with leaders coming and going etc, as a result of it all.

All stamp collectors realise that stamps depict HISTORY as it happens, and 2020 is no exception to that!  Politicians come, and politicians go, but their decisions live on, for better or worse, and stamps and coins outline and document such things.

Britain leaving the EU now seems (almost!) assured, well as assured as anything can be in such matters in the UK, and whilst Britain so far has issued no stamp issue to mark their looming EU departure, the Royal Mint did issue a special 50p coin earlier this year.


Instant “Heirlooms” in a box!


This isn’t the first time the Royal Mint has made a Brexit coin - in fact, it’s third time lucky. They had originally planned for 1,000 prototype coins to be launched on 31 March 2019, but this was later pushed back to the exit date of 31 October.  However when Britain again failed to successfully leave, the coin was put on hold.

Around one million coins had to be melted down, until a new exit date was confirmed after the general election.  No idea what kind of cost is involved in the design, trials, production and destruction on that scale, but I am sure we are talking MEGA bucks just for the last debacle.

The Royal Mint in the UK finally issued a coin on Janaury 31, 2020, to mark the leaving of the European Union by the UK.  The nominal 50p face value coin was placed in normal circulation of course, and for 50p, or about $A1, you can readily buy one there nationally.

However the Royal Mint also made 3 special proof coin versions - in Gold, Silver and Unc Proof versions, in cute little boxes.  As always these are very expensive to buy.  And sell well as family souveniers of a major event.  The Gold and Silver proof versions are shown nearby.

Same day sell-out at £945!

Demand was so high, the Mint introduced a queueing system to even get on its website.  A limited edition, two-coin set - with a historic 1973 50p marking the UK's accession into the European Economic Community, and a new 2020 50p, marking the withdrawal from the European Union - also sold out.  Priced at £30=$A60, some 5,000 sets of those were produced.

Royal Mint also strictly limited purchases of the Silver Bullion Proof versions of the Brexit coin, priced at £60, to three per household. That one also sold out super fast, on the day of issue I understand, and to me at least, seemed far better value for money.  Time will tell.  I’d far rather own 15 of those in the same kind of classy box, than one Gold Proof version!


Very classy Royal Mint packaging.


The Gold Proof version was offered at £945 by Royal Mint (near $A2,000) and 1,500 sets were made. They sold out on the first day of being offered - so who said the UK econony went into a tailspin due to BREXIT!  The Silver Proof sets also sold out near as fast.

The Silver version, produced in a “Limited” edition of 47,000, sold for £60. The nice box for that is shown nearby, and is near identical to box on the Gold version.  The brilliant uncirculated version, being produced in a basically unlimited run, can be snapped up for “just” £10.  Who said there was no profit in being a Government Mint!?


10 million coins circulated in UK.


However, people do not have to pay silly money to get hold of a 50p Brexit coin, as standard versions of the coin also entered circulation across the UK.  Around 3 million of the commemorative 50p pieces entered banks, Post Offices, and shops nationwide from 31 January, with a further 7 million filtering into circulation later in 2020.

Clare Maclennan, director of Commemorative Coins at the Royal Mint said in explaining why these special BREXIT coins were released - 
“The Royal Mint has been marking significant events in British history for over 1,000 years, and has a history of commemorating the UK’s relationship with the EU through coinage.”


How are your English Grammar Skills?


There was considerable controversy over the punctuation on the wording on the non-monarch side of the coin.  Many English language pedants and experts, believed there needed to be an “Oxford Comma” in the inscription, i.e. inserting a comma after the word “Prosperity”.

For those who aren’t experts in formal English punctuation, (like me!) an “Oxford Comma” is used in a list after the second last item.  For example: butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.  Many other examples were given of where this is usual correct formal usage.

Debate raged on in the English Media.  is the stampboards discussion on all this, with far more detail.  My firm view is that as there is not a full stop/period at the end, it does not constitute a formal sentence anyway, which needs to have that feature to qualify, so commas are all moot.


A very discreet Royal Message?!


Queen Elizabeth’s private thoughts on this many year BREXIT saga are not publicly known of course, as is normal Royal Protocol.  However in some circles it is alleged she insisted this new image shown nearby be used on the reverse of each coin, to silenty pass on her inner thoughts!  I have not seen a 50p coin so cannot comment.


AUSTRIA Snubs the Brits leaving.


When I first saw an image of the attractive Austria postage stamp shown nearby, I thought it was some kind of lampoon or spoof artwork, and done by someone with a sense of humour.  (Plenty of British “remainers” have not accepted the current political realities, and create such things to stir up fellow Brits!)

Near all stamps from Austria from the first issues have been inscribed Österreich on the stamp of course, not AUSTRIA, and history shows us virtually no issues from this century have been exempted, making one think at first glance it was certainly some kind of joke issue, arted up by someone for an office laugh etc. 


Britain alone, and adrift at sea!


It shows the island of Britain all lonely and adrift, surrounded by a circle of dark blue coloured neighbours - the EU colours, now floating all alone in the North Sea.  Even the date of Britain “leaving” has been crossed out and re-entered, as clearly even the Brits could not agree on anything for ages. 

However this image was not a parody, or a clever photoshop creation, or some politicial joke - it is a real postage stamp, issued by Austria on January 31!  I kid you not.  The face value of 1.80 Euro is the current postage rate for non EU foreign letters, a futher not very discreet dig at the UK.

I was eeerily reminded of the famous China 1968 8f Stamp issue, that showed another “Renegade Province” Taiwan, shown in WHITE, abutted by Mother China in RED, not Blue!   They were frantically recalled when authorities saw them, and today sell for $100,000s each - literally.  The EU might like to reflect that over a Half Century on, that Renegade Province has still stayed well outside the fold! 


Taiwan is another “Renegade Province”!


One well known English dealer, Ian Billings of Norvic Stamps in Norfolk UK, labelled The Austria stamps as a hoax, and stated on stampboards -  “I suggest this is nothing more than a spoof, and if it exists, then it is a fantasy issue.”  To be honest when I first saw it, I could not believe any European country Government would issue such an image on a stamp.


140,000 Austria stamps sold fast. is the detailed discussion on this issue.  It was widely speculated they would be reprinted due to the instant sell-out, but it appears that will not be occurring.  Austria Post quickly sold out of all 140,000 of these Brexit stamps it seems clear.  1.8 Euro is a little under $A3 face value. The authoritative Bloomberg financial services news network, had this report below outlining their background –

“Austria had planned a stamp to commemorate Britain’s departure from the European Union, but when the presumed deadline of March 29, 2019 - came and went, with no Brexit, the postal service found itself with 140,000 stamps bearing the wrong date.  Fast-forward 10 months, and as Britain finally heads for the exit, Austria is releasing the stamp - with the original date crossed out and “Jan. 31, 2020” is printed just below.

The stamp shows the remaining 27 members of the European Union in deep blue, while the United Kingdom is printed in a transparent, light blue - a shadow, so to speak.  The stamps have a denomination of 1.80 euros, the price for sending a standard-sized priority letter to overseas destinations - something Great Britain isn’t considered.  Yet.

The stamps are available in a handful of Oesterreichische Post AG branches and its online shop.  It wasn’t immediately clear if the operator had retained some sheets in their original state, without the overprint - creating a new variety for philatelists to fetishize over” 
the Bloomberg newsfeed concluded.


Lemming Heaven on eBay as usual.


So what price do such things cost?  As always in life, rushing into things can be a financial disaster.  As you can clearly see nearby.  Ebay of course was flooded with these issues, and the “Barrrhginnn Huntaahrr” lemmings all stampeded in, paying insane prices as usual for things, that in a year, they will be licking on mail.

One seller alone SOLD these 2 items shown nearby for about $A65 for a single stamp (way over 30 times face!) and near $200 with post for the common 50p coin version - close to 200 times face.  I kid you not - these were “Buy It Now” prices and some goose(s) cheerfully really PAID that!  Many similar sales were made. has more discussion on this kind of Bunny madness and examples.

A couple of British born clients asked me to get them in a sheet to keep for fun, so I have.  Have a few vertical half sheets 25 left, with imprints on all 3 sides, at $A6 ($US4) per stamp.  Perfect #1 Hagner sheet size or stockbook etc. (Stock 792JP)  A beer or coffee costs that here, so not too pricey.  If they are not reprinted - as I really thought they would be, they may dry up soon enough!

As with all this kind of speculative madness, prices will not stay at the $A70 a stamp level, and as you can see, I can sell them already at under 10% of that!  “Fools Rush In ……” etc.  $A65 for a single stamp, plus post = $A70, is quite insane.  If they were reprinted the market would suffer, but that seems unlikely right now.  Who knows.

I wish these idiots would make more productive use of clearly owning far too much money - like donating some of it to the stampboards Bushfire Appeal!  They could have bought one of several donated GB 1840 1d Blacks etc for that silly money. The Stamp Community has come to the fore and already donated about $12,500 to this superb cause - can you add to that? -


Buy stamps, and directly DONATE funds!


Oz Readers CAN assist disaster donations by walking into their Post Offices and buying a sheet (or sheets) of the new $1.10 booklet panes of 5 different new die cut “DISASTER” stamps.  Each $5.50 sheet sees Australia Post donate $2 to the relief funds.  So mail your letters or ebay sendings out this year etc, and actively support those in REAL need.


$2 of each goes to those in need.


Australia Post produced 100,000 panes of 5, and they come to POs in a “cheque book” bound at sides, of 20 panes in each - i.e. $110 cost price, and $40 of that purchase goes immediately to relief work - wonderful idea for Business to support.  A lot more detail, in date sequential order, on this clearly rushed and rather confused new issue is here -

Stampboards member “Allanswood” - Greg Allan of Goulburn NSW, bought such a “cheque book” of 100 stamps to use on his business mail on February 14, which appears to have been the issue date of the stamps, despite AP being rubbery on that detail. 

Greg created a few sets of five attractive cacheted “FDC” on that date, and they were backstamped at another PO, and as official FDCs from AP will never be offered or sold, they will be VERY nice items in the future, as few knew about this issue until well after February 14.

He kindly scanned me a high resolution image of the cover of the pane of 5, and that was used on the front cover of the March 2020 Edition of “Stamp News”.  Few emergency” issues like this appear from AP - they generally plan issues a year in advance, and this clearly caught them on the hop. 

As all collectors of FDC want to be 100% COMPLETE, sets of 5 on FDC will be certain stars of the future, as Australia Post will not be offering any to standing order clients etc, as this was an emergency short term issue.  Details on it here -


Please use these on YOUR outward mail.


The actual First Day Of Issue actually appears to have been Friday February 14, (eBay sellers had sheets on sale before that day even, with scans taken from actual sheets) but various parts of AP were officially stating an issue date of Tuesday February 18 for some reason, despite it being clear some sheets were on sale well before then, so it seems obvious Australia Post itself does not know what the sequence was here.


Might be worth tucking some away?


Nothing is surer that if only 100,000 sheets of these attractive die-cut new stamps exist globally, they will sell out pretty fast, as $200,000 will be donated by Australia Post to Charity.  EVERY small business in affected areas will I am sure be franking mail with these stamps.  Complete mint sheets may not be retained in great number, and might be worth tucking away for a modest punt? 

Allanswood generously offered to the Bushfire Auction, a set of 5 x cacheted FDC he printed out quickly, all cancelled at Goulburn NSW, Feb 14, and backstamped at a different PO on Feb 14.  It comes with copy of his PO purchase receipt of February 14.  This is the only set of genuine cacheted FDC I am aware of, and am sure serious FDC collectors will bid it into 3 figures, especially seeing every cent goes to Charity.


One of Australia’s very scarcest FDC’s.


They are attractive issues, using a special die-cutting “knife” simulating a stylised map of Australia, that was I understand created working closely with Cartor Security Printers, in Paris.  The special Australia Map style die cutting is also used in the recent MyStamp personalised stamp issue series etc.  


            “We are part of your Community.”


Australia Post Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Christine Holgate said her organisation’s heartfelt thoughts were with the countless Australians and communities who have been so harshly affected by the recent natural disasters. “The Post Office is a vital part of the local community, particularly in rural and regional Australia, and we are committed to doing everything that we can, to support our communities in their recovery.”

Australian Red Cross Chief Executive Officer Judy Slatyer said the ongoing community response had been incredible.  “The funds raised through the Disaster Relief stamps will help keep our staff and volunteers on the ground helping those affected by the bushfires etc, providing practical, local support where it’s needed to tens of thousands of people during and after the emergencies” she said.


Only 100,000 sheets available globally.


The special release stamp sheets of 5 retail for $5.50 each, and were technically only available from 18 February at participating Post Offices, while existing stocks last.  Australia Post Customers wishing to make any further donation to the Red Cross, can of course do so over the counter at any Post Office.

Mail order of course, for those overseas, or whose local PO has sold out, is also possible, and the direct PO order link is here -  As I typed this, plenty were in stock for ordering, (I think they are post free as well?) and that Philatelic Bureau Site confirms the issue Date was Friday February 14, not February 18, that many other arms of AP were claiming.

Will some eBay spiv create some plain white “FDC’s” next week, or next month, via the Snake Gully North LPO that his sister owns - of course.  They will remain just that – greedy, opportunistic, total fabrications.  Only a mug will buy such unverified naked money-making fantasies.  No real FDC collector will, for sure.

There are a dozen FDC recorded of the 1d Red Roo - Cat $15,000 EACH.  A verified set of these DISASTER issues on FDC will actually be numerically SCARCER you can bet.  Think about it.  I hope we see bids of a few $100 for Greg's generous donation.  EVERY cent goes to the Bushfire Appeal -


Kangaroo Stamp Bonanza coming soon.


Phoenix Auctions in Melbourne Australia advised me this week that they will auction off on May 29, the fantastic Large Gold Medal mouth-watering exhibit of the Australia Kangaroo and Map stamps, formed by Peter O’Rourke, who exhibited widely. 

This wonderful collection is full of top Kangaroo rarities, many of which have not been on the market for years. There are a staggering number of Monogram and Non-Monogram items, a wide range of watermark and perforation errors, and other major varieties.


The unique inverted “OS” overprint.


One is the 1932 CofA watermark 6d Brown Kangaroo with “OS” overprint inverted, shown nearby.  I remember being at a Sydney stamp dealer meeting in 1985 where local member, the late Jim Jude of Northway Stamps near me, showed it to fellow dealers, to get their thoughts. 

Jim had just bought it sitting in a PO Specimen pack he had purchased from a member of the public.  No inverted overprints had even been recorded - then and now!  As can be seen, the stamp has little pieces of gummed stamp selvedge in each corner.  Why?  As the stamp printer used them to replace a stamp into a sheet that had been damaged in some way - a cut, tear, or ink spill etc.


Official Printer patching repair.


 Now and again patching in a substitute stamp or stamps would be done quickly by printer in this “Waste Not” Great Depression era, and it was hence inserted upside down.  No big deal on a sheet of normal 6d brown, as it can be replicated or faked, but if that sheet was selected for overprinting, clearly the overprint got INVERTED on that one stamp.

And so it was, with this 6d Brown. Amazing that whomever was ripping up that sheet to insert into the PO specimen packs for collectors did not notice.  The 4 little bits of selvedge would have been annoying to tear and separate into a single stamp, and you’d look carefully at the stamp when doing that.  But clearly no-one noticed, and it went into the pack, and Jim found it over a half century later.

This was one unique Kangaroo stamp that Arthur Gray did not own, and ACSC is $60,000 and SG 0133a, is far higher at £75,000.  The values under 10/- were all neat corner cancelled in these Specimen packs, and this one stamp is the only one ever recorded.  Some KGV heads “OS” inverted occurred via the same PO patching in error.


This selvedge is worth $180,000+!


Another unique in collector hands item in the O’Brien sale, is the £2 First Watermark 1913 Kangaroo “JBC” Monogram single shown nearby.  I was photographed holding it in New York, at the $A7.15m Arthur Gray Kangaroo sale I flew over for in 2007, at Shreves Auction Galleries. 

It had just been invoiced for $A176,930, and it was purchased by the late Simon Dunkerley, who added his fee on top for the client he was bidding for, so it would have cost lets say $A185,000 or so.   Estimate was “only” $US50,000-75,000.  There was a ding-dong bidding battle for it.


“Be careful of the coffee cup!”


The stamp had a bit of foxing and a crease along the watermark line, but being unique that does not really matter!  Auctioneer Charles Shreve was VERY nervous that I did not drop this $177,000 stamp into my coffee, when the photos were being taken - as he had not been paid for it yet!! 

I have a far better centred 1913 £2 Kangaroo MLH in stock right now for $6,000, I just bought, so this “JBC” marking in the seldedge adds about $180,000 - surely the world’s most expensive piece of selvedge?   Pretty interesting observation when you think on it!  So save your pennies until May - more images next month. 

Caption on top margin single £2  Roo -   Apparently unique in private hands.


Apparently unique in private hands.


Another interesting and stated unique item is the 1913 £2 Kangaroo shown nearby, top marginal, with small OS perfin.  I have never seen this stamp offered before that I can recall, and indeed often wondered whether one existed in private hands. 

I bought the complete mint “OS NSW” 1913 Roo set in the Stuart Hardy sale, (whomever bought that page got a bargain off me in hindsight - WHAT provenance!) and I sold another nice 1913 £2 mint “OS NSW” to Alan Salisbury some decades back, but repeat I have never seen this one before.

I sell more Roos than just about anyone, and you get to be able to sort most of them by watermark just by looking at them - perf characteristics and colour etc.  If I were asked to guess at the watermark off this photo, I’d opt for THIRD watermark almost certainly.  I have not seen the stamp in person, so assume it is correctly ID in a Gold Medal collection.  Interesting.

Another of the very few stamps the stunning $7m Arthur Gray collection did not possess.  Nor did the amazing Stuart Hardy collection.  Arthur’s 1913 £2 Kangaroo used with LARGE “OS” puncture was invoiced for $A60,000 (est just $US5,000-7,000!) after a ding-dong bidding battle between two well known dealers sitting either side of me. 





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