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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

November 2010





Another "Jimmy" Rarity appears.

My front page article last month on the 2/6d "One Pound Jimmy" stamp caused much commentary. is the detailed article to refer to, in case you missed it.

The used inverted watermark on this issue is SG 253aw - £5,000 used, and in the well out of date ACSC 256a - $A5,000. 

A member in Mount Gambier, South Australia recently discovered the first ever MINT copy of this stamp with watermark inverted.

It was among glassines of junk type mint material he was sorting, to see if the stamps were hinged or unhinged. 

Until very recent times only one used copy was recorded. Then a few years later another was reported, taking the total known to two used copies.

The mint copy shown nearby added the only mint copy to the tally – making 3 known in total. 

As far as I can determine it is the only UNIQUE mint stamp item known from post-war Australia.  


A The unique Mint 2/6 example


The lucky finder sold it to me, as he does not collect Australia.  I found a very good home for it for a 5 figure sum the next day. 

The discussion of this stamp then took an interesting twist.

"Allanswood" a member from Goulburn NSW, decided to look in a box of junk he'd just bought, to test his luck. 


A used pair appears


Excitedly, he found two used pairs of this 2/6d Aborigine, and the watermarks were certainly opposite to each other.

He posted up photos on stampboards, as he was not sure whether the catalogue error was reversed - or just inverted.

Members were able to confirm for him that one of the pairs had the scarce INVERTED watermarks.

That pair is shown nearby - bearing a "Marrickville" NSW circular cancel – a Sydney suburb. 

The top stamp is superb used.  The lower unit has some blemishes, as often found on parcel post high values. 


The new 2/6 Aborigine discovery


So the only multiple had now turned up. The power of the internet! Read the story of both unravelling discoveries in the finder’s own words -

For half a century only one copy was recorded, and we now have five, including a pair.

Three of them unveiled and verified on


A holiday - for a stamp


"Allanswood" is a Scot, and was recently musing he had not been back 'home' for 37 years, and his wife had never been there.

I said I'd pay for both their trips to and from Scotland, in exchange for the used pair, and he accepted.

This pair also found a good home immediately, and it will be interesting to see if others surface - given all the recent publicity.

The stamp still remains a very rare piece, and I'd appreciate hearing of any further copies that may surface, so I can update the census.


The tally so far - 5


Very few stamps in Australian philately are known with as few as five examples recorded.

This whole saga does underline the point that MAJOR finds are still possible among otherwise near valueless stamps.

This 2/6d stamp was issued in 1952 and continued on and off, right up until Decimal currency in 1966 – via a last moment “emergency” printing.

Near 100 million stamps of this design were sold in total over some 16 years. 

So there are many millions of chances you might get lucky!

Both these eagle eyed stampboards members have benefited many $1000s each from their sharp vision.

AND both will have a story to “dine out on” for the rest of their lives as well.

I think it is the secret dream of EVERY collector to find “The Big One” in envelopes of junk that cost literally nothing, as in both these cases.

The watermarks on this stamp are easy to spot as the paper is thin, and I urge all readers to take a look through their examples

World Record Price for India


I saw an interesting auction result this week where a thinned, creased and cut to shape imperf stamp sold for over £100,000!

A stamp in that condition is usually worth a few dollars, but not this guy.

It set a World Record price for any Indian stamp, on October 13, at Spink London.


Who needs condition perfection?!


It is the 1854 issue - 4 Annas first printing, blue and pale red, with variety "head inverted" - SG 18a.

This stamp has attracted a fair amount of interest over the years, with entries in "Stamps of Fame" by the Williams brothers, on page 75, and illustrated on Plate II.

It also appeared in the Williams 1997 "Encyclopaedia of Rare and Famous Stamps" and two entries in the "London Philatelist" (1935 and 1949).

Cut to shape, with defects, the piece is lightly cancelled with a diamond of dots leaving the image clear, which is seldom the case with this error.


Over 5 times estimate


The pre-sale estimate was £18,000 to £20,000 - but the bidders chased it up to £105,390 when all the onerous commissions etc were added. added.

This illustrates once again the strength of the Indian stamp market.

With a billion people - many of whom are now middle and wealthier class - and keen collectors - much Indian material has been going nuts in recent years.


Is this the right way up? has a large band of worldwide enthusiasts who collect "The Uglies" - the Indian States. 


Welcome to "The Uglies"


They have started 100s of threads on all kinds of India States related discussions, with literally 1000s of photos.

The photos shown nearby come from there.  Would you know if the one shown nearby was even the correct way up? (Answer – it isn’t!)

"Banging the drum for the Uglies"  is the longest discussion - over 3,000 posts and 32,000 page views. 

Google that term, and it takes you to only one place!

I think it has single-handedly inspired scores of collectors to take up this challenging field. Take a read -

I can bet hardly a person reading this magazine has a clue WHERE this "ugly" on piece originated? And it was from the WW1 era ... not the 1870s!


Now THIS is an "Indian Ugly"


The ringmaster to near all these is "tonymacq" from Melbourne who appears to have an phenomenal collection of these issues, and the detailed knowledge to go with them.

If any reader is yearning after a collecting field that offers a huge challenge, and does not necessarily cost a fortune, check out -

The Indian market will boom in the decades ahead, and "tonymacq" posted a spreadsheet this week of the % increases of all the states in SG prices, and it is amazing.

His chart shows the state of Las Bella has increased in value some 55% in the past 5 years - as an example.


Gibbons "Part One" released.


And the rise and rise of the Indian catalogue prices brings me to the “event” of the week – the arrival of the new SG “Part One”.

The average collector buys a new major catalogue only once every few years as they are expensive, and for many collectors, being a few years out of date is no big deal.

For about 100 years SG published the "Part One" - a detailed priced listing of ALL British Commonwealth stamps from 1840.

It got thicker and thicker with all the WALLPAPER new issues from places like Guyana - where literally scores and scores of pages were filled with this new issue junk.

Yet all of us needed to pay for a thick complicated catalogue listing of it, we never looked at.

The “Part 1” books got to be two massive hard cover volumes - so Gibbons simply stopped printing them.  And seemingly had no plan "B" in mind.


Most unsatisfactory


For a good while afterwards all that one could use to look a 1953 Commonwealth definitive was to lug out the huge Simplified SG “World” cat from one of FIVE hard to handle soft cover volumes, and look it up there.

No mini sheets were at the time listed in there, no perf varieties, no watermark errors, no booklets, no "on cover” rates etc.  Near enough useless for anything except simplified use.


Just out and a "Must Buy"


Then someone at SG finally had the bright idea to issue a single volume for all Commonwealth stamps "1840 to 1952". -  i.e. pre QE2.

Handy and welcome, but it still did not cover the VERY popular early QE2 issues.


At last - a - new SG!


This all changed in 2007 with the way overdue issue of what I suggested years before - an 1840-1970 single volume.

Which contains the welcome DETAILED info on the early QE2 reign.

In the interim the dreary black and white photos printed on grey paper stock have been gradually upgraded to full colour photos, on bright white paper.

SUCH a difference when I compare the 2 issues side by side, with only a few years difference in time frame.


Colourful and vibrant


Printed on a nice crisp fresh white paper stock.  Cheery and "alive" compared to my already VERY yellowed 2002 SG pages with sad grey illustrations.

This year for the first time Editor Hugh Jefferies has dragged SG into the 21st Century at LAST, and dispended with the boring and dated  Times New Roman” font.

It is wimpy and dates anyone using it for anything, to the 1980s in mindset. 

A nice crisp clean sans serif font is now used, and makes it so much easier to read.


 Full SG is about right


Lots of constant plate flaws are now listed.  And lots of inverted watermarks - find just one from a country like Australia and the entire book could be readily paid for! 

Indeed paid for several DECADES on many of them, like the 2/6d Aboriginal outlined above – which is in here at £5,000 /span>


Australasian Prices UP


I studied the prices for the Australasia area for few hours, and a general comment is that they are up nearly everywhere across the board over 2010 Edition.

All the Australian “States” seem up, Australian Kangaroos, and the GRI/New Guinea/Papua area etc too.

Roos are up - starting with SG#1 mint and used.  Many perf “OS” are up – the 1913 £2 SG 015 is up 50% to £12,000 used, and that is still a QUARTER local retail.

Indeed I have to say even with the increases, many of the stamps at full SG are under local retail given the weak Sterling in recent months. 


Full cat not exceptional today 


I offered the Victoria £100 shown nearby on my Rarity page for near new updated SG FULL catalogue, and it vanished in a day.

Kellow's "Stamps Of Victoria" states only 80 copies were produced.  SG 291 - £550.

THE highest postally valid face value stamp ever issued by Australia or any of the states - by a country MILE.


Comments worth reading closely


SG now makes the comment shown nearby re inverted watermarks from the Australian States issues.  And the long overdue note about “double prints”. 


More ebay instant "Rarities"


The cowboys on ebay have been fleecing the Bunnies for years there, offering the very prevalent Tasmania local printed Chalon heads as “double prints” for large sums.

When in fact blurred and “Kiss prints” are the rule, rather than the exception with those.

The same comment applies to inverted watermarks on many “States” issues.

On ebay etc they often become “RARITIES” in the vernacular of the sellers – yet 50% of the printing were often inverted.

It is a good compromise idea taking the catalogue listings up to 1970.  It can be price updated each year or so hopefully, and yet not affect the book size.

An 1840 to 2010 detailed set would easily run 3 or 4 volumes, and essentially no-one could afford to buy it.

Personally if I ever need to look up modern Guyana (and I never have!) I'll do that via the massive 5 volume SG "Stamps Of The World."


Used Sydney Bridges qualified


I notice SG now make a note under the 1932 5/- Harbour Bridge indicating the “used” price is for CTO - and that nice postally used are worth more.

I passed this suggestion onto Hugh Jefferies, and good to see commonsense things like this being incorporated.


Worth FAR more than "CTO"

This new “2011” SG is a huge hard covered book, being well over 600 large format pages in full colour, and is not cheap - but trust me you'll do well to invest in one.

Stock from England will be just about to arrive in Australia as this column goes to press, and all major dealers will stock it  -  I have 5 pre-orders on it already.

Many collectors only buy a “Part 1” each 5 or 10 years, and the cost amortised annually runs into what a Pizza will cost you!


No more heavy card inserts


My only complaint each year is they bind in 3 or 4 very thick cardboard ads each 100 pages or so, across the full A4 size, that stop you being able to turn pages readily.

I tear them out immediately as I am sure nearly all users do, and MEMO to those foolish advertisers - you have the most super expensive non-ads of all time, and I hope you read this.

These annoying irritants USUALLY have rouletting close to spine allowing you to quickly toss the things away.

However the one on page 309 does not, and I nearly wrecked my copy ripping it out. 

So SG – wake up to yourselves please, and roulette these silly things so they are more easily binned.

OR better still, use some brains in the advertising department, and NOT include them in the first place.  







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