Click To Go Back To The Main Stamps Homepage

Welcome! -  You are visitor number   hit counter    To -


October 2020


SG  “Colour Key” is no more.



Useful stamp products come and go - sadly.  I had a UK client order a SG "Colour Key" this week.  I told him the postage from here was probably higher than the thing retails for, and suggested he secured one locally.  He advised ''none were buyable in UK'' and to please just send and charge it to his credit card.

Thought to myself, what a strange order, charged his card, mailed him the one Colour Key I then had in stock, and ordered 10 more from local agent - to get told they were discontinued by SG!   Just double checked with SG in UK and sure enough - TOTALLY KAPUT!  These are an essential piece of kit in EVERY stamp den, as I have posted 100 times here over the years.


THIS is Steel-Blue on a stamp.


I must have sold hundreds over the decades, quite cheap, and easy to store, and easy to use, and very accurate for British Commonwealth stamp colours.  I mean how would you ever know what SAGE GREEN is, unless you have one of these to compare that shade to the solid colour chip on these cards.  And 100 other similar examples. 

The "Stanley Gibbons Colour Guide" and in some markets also called the "Stanley Gibbons Stamp Colour Key", was pretty much the only reference anyone used globally.  And has been so for MANY decades.  A bit like the paint match colour charts they used to have at hardware shops really, and worked just as well.

You just place the correct colour chip over the stamps in question, via the large hole in centre of each chip, and the accurate colour shade you are looking at is then readily evident.  Every stamp computer monitor differs, so looking at them on screen is most inaccurate in many cases.  A waste of time for fine shade nuances.


Removes the total guesswork.


Tried and proven, and far better than 10 folks taking a different "guess" at what a "buff orange" is - and getting 10 different answers!  Did you know before what "Myrtle Green" was - well now you do, looking at the Key.  I use mine a lot each year, and for the modest cost, is an essential accessory for most collectors. They last forever. Came in a clear vinyl storage wallet. 


Now $140 each on ebay!


EVERYONE now knows what "Indian Red" looks like exactly - without this, no-one has the vaguest CLUE.  They let you identify about 200 DIFFERENT colours with great accuracy.  A loss to the hobby, and let’s hope a new manufacturer can be located somewhere, who can replicate this handy gizmo, at an affordable price point.  SG claim they cannot.

Anyone trying to sort scarce SG listed shades by peering at images on the web is wasting their time.  It just is not possible to do accurately.  Those that ordered one when they figuratively cost peanuts globally, owe me a beer! 

One sold on ebay UK this week for £64 plus £5 post, and 10% GST to a local buyer = £76 or about $A140 has details of this, and a whole pile of albums and pages SG have also stopped making.


HM not aged in 53 Years!


The vanity of Queen Elizabeth 2 being happy to leave the exact same Machin portrait on the most heavily used UK stamps for 53 years, is near impossible to believe to me, but it endures.  It has been there unchanged since 1967 when I entered high school.

Stamp collectors love Machin heads of course, with well over five thousand varieties of colour, value, gum, phosphor banding, iridescent overprints, perforations, printing methods - Photogravure, Intaglio/Engraved, Typography, Electro-Mechanical Engraving (EME Gravure), Embossing etc possible.


Now THESE Machins I like!


I am not a huge fan, except for the elegantly re-done £5 design shown nearby, and a few other re-works, but know many fellow dealers who sell almost nothing else except Machins, so to each their own.  If the Queen, now 94, lives to be old as her mother, the Machin head stamp design will have lasted 60 years! 

Whilst researching this article I found a Royal Mail summary of the history of Queen Elizabeth’s head on stamps.  It seems clear socialist/Labour Leftie newly appointed Postmaster General Tony Benn fought tenaciously to remove her head OFF all UK stamps.   At this time, around ONE THIRD of each commemorative stamp design needed to show the Queen!


 “Off With Her Head”!


See the nearby 1961 1/6d Post Office Savings Bank issue as a typical example, showing the vast chunk the QE2 image took up on stamps of this era.  I scanned this stamp today, and looked at the few straggly flowers, and wondered to myself what on earth they had to with the POSB? 


Guess the design central element.


The Postal Museum website gave me the answer - it is supposedly a Thrift Plant!!  I kid you not - I am not making this up.  A Committee of big shots worked tirelessly on this master brain storm design for months.  Talk about LAME.

And I was not the only person wondering what on earth this silly looking bunch of flowers thing was all about.  The same website tells us Her Majesty approved the designs after a trip to Italy, but noted: “The Queen was puzzled as to the significance of some of the designs, and the Postmaster General was asked if, in future, short explanations could accompany stamp designs.”

The Assistant Postmaster General at the Press Conference announcing this issue, and the next 2 issues (quite a flood back then!) was laughably reported in the press as stating as far as issues of future British commemorative stamps were concerned - “
we are trying to be as adventuresome as possible”. 


This was UK “Adventuresome” design!


Just take a look at the truly dreary CEPT Conference set of 3 issued the very next month, and the even worse and corny National Productivity Year trio issued the following month, the heavily used letter rate value is shown nearby, and you wonder if he was inwardly laughing, and just taking the pith!  Even the Queen looks glum.


Let me give back my Peerage.


Postmaster General Tony Benn was very radical in many ways, and had fought long and hard to give BACK his hereditary peerage title of 2nd Viscount Stansgate of Stansgate.  He was the first in Britain to do so, due to the ‘1963 Peerage Act’ being passed - and almost entirely due to his continued efforts to rid himself of his inherited title - being a radical Labour activist!

Though a fierce critic of the British class system, Benn came from a moneyed and privileged family himself.  Both of his grandfathers had been Members of Parliament and his father, William Wedgwood Benn (1877-1960), had been a Liberal, and then a Labour, MP who in 1942 entered the House Of Lords as 1st Viscount Stansgate.

Tony Benn commissioned essays of the 1965 Churchill and Battle of Britain stamps showing NO Queen’s Head, and tried hard to get them approved by the Palace.  A losing battle it seems very clear.  The 1/3d Churchill essay is shown nearby, with NO Queen and the never before seen words “Great Britain” - alongside the issued stamp, showing the then traditional Wilding design head.


Unissued and issued GB Churchills.


The accepted Churchill design stamps were shown to, and approved by, Lady Churchill before they were submitted the Queen.  Lady Churchill much preferred the Oscar Nemon marble bust resident in Windsor Castle, but was advised this would not work well, if transferred to one dimension on a stamp. 

The Stamp Advisory Committee insisted on a vertical line on the final Churchill stamp design being added, so that it did not give the impression the Queen was hovering somewhere in space, peering over Sir Winston’s left shoulder.

Printers Harrison & Sons informed the PO that because that line was the natural colour of the paper, there would be a tendency for the color to spread over that line.  After much testing Harrisons felt 75% of the issued stamps would be imperfect.  I assume that a tiny colour misregistration would visually thin that vertical line readily?  In practice I am not sure whether that occurred much in the finished stamps.


Postmaster Benn Prevails.


The UK Postal Museum official website  also tells us that in early 1965, the British Postmaster General Benn expressed a sudden interest in the content, and the general instructions sent to stamp artists, to aid them with their designs, and the parameters and necessary content to be used in them, for future stamp designs.  

In early March Benn had been granted an audience with the Queen, at which time the subject of the ‘new stamp policy’ was discussed.  During this audience, the Queen agreed that ‘non-traditional’ designs could be submitted for future issues. This was confirmed by a letter from the Queen’s Private Secretary on 12 March 1965.

It would appear that, during this Royal audience, the question of the continued use of the Queen’s head on stamps had been the subject of some discussion with Benn.  Certainly, the letter from Buckingham Palace contained the suggestion that the Royal Cypher be used in place of the Queen’s head ‘on certain stamps’. 

However, the GPO representative informed the Stamp Advisory Committee that it was ‘very unlikely’ that any design without the Queen’s head would be chosen, despite what had been said about design freedom in the ‘Instructions to Artists’ - emanating direct from boss, Postmaster General Benn.  It is all rather like an out-take script from “Yes Minister”!



“I do want my head please.”


Postmaster General Benn pushed ahead with his “Off With Her Head” campaign according to Royal Mail:  “At an audience in November 1965 The Queen informed the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, that she DID want her head to appear on all stamps, but would approve the use of a silhouette format.  Fearing a political row, Benn accepted the situation, and pressed ahead with the use of a cameo silhouette.” 


The first Cameo head stamp.


Benn’s first “cameo” was on the 1966 “Landscape” issue shown nearby, where Mary Gillick’s cameo head design was used. The Queen approved that design, and made no comment on it.  Tony Benn in VERY quick time greatly reduced the size of that HUGE cameo head, as we all know, so that by the 1967 Christmas issue it was very unobtrusive and in the corner of each new stamp - and stayed that way! 

About 35 years ago there were moves to update her likeness on the Machin stamps - after all it had then been used for about 25 years.  The Queen’s Private Secretary is quoted by Royal Mail as responding in part: "Her Majesty is very content with the Machin effigy on the stamps, and thinks that a work of real quality is required, if this is to be replaced.”

Needless to say after that - Britain is stuck with the same Machin bust design to this day, and the never aging Queen - who after 53 years has not changed one iota on definitive stamps, or added a single wrinkle line!   I feel sure no-one has ever dared to raise it with her again.  Her Majesty’s image has seen her age gracefully on UK coinage, but oddly not on the stamps - I am sure there is a reason - someone will know!


Hidden Stamp Treasures Still Exist.


Many collectors and dealers despair that no nice “finds” are still to be made, as it is near certain all old circa 1900 albums around the globe have been checked/picked over already, by the many, many, generations of other collectors or dealers that have walked before them, and peered in and plundered the vintage stamp albums. 

Whilst that is largely true, it is still possible to find key face different pieces like 1913 £2 Kangaroos, or GB £5 Oranges, or USA $5 Columbians etc, and even they still do turn up from time to time in old collections, that have remained tightly held in families, and have never been near a stamp dealer or an auction etc. 

An elderly lady bought over a huge red SG “Ideal” album that had been in her family for over a century, and she was downsizing to a care unit, and did not want to take it with her, and none of the family were interested in stamps.  She did not trust Auctions, and simply wanted a fair cash price for it all, so it would find a new home. 


Never seen for over 100+ years.


These books are generally sparsely filled, as they are so huge, and but not so with this one.  The first pages of all these books contains AUSTRALIA, as they are arranged alphabetically.  On that page she had among other nice pieces, a complete set 15, of the 1913 Kangaroo stamps, ranging from the ½d to £2.

The values to 5/- all had the glossy CTO cancels, themselves a scarce set, and as always, the 3 high values were handstamped “Specimen” with a rubber stamp pad.  All lightly hinged in there over 100 years back, and had never been seen by any dealer since.  They are shown nearby, and are worth $1000’s thus.


Now on a 787 to Africa!


All with fresh full gum, and super light peelable Gibbons hinges, and a client in South Africa is the proud owner of them today.  The 1913 “Specimen” issue is not common at all, and indeed to this day, we do not know for certain what packaging the set or folder it was sold in, or consisted of, as none have survived - rather amazingly.


 THE most attractive GB stamp design?


Another nice piece in the old book was the GB 1913 £1 Green “Seahorse” VFU nearby.  This is by far the scarcest face different GB stamp from the past century, and is missing from nearly EVERY GB collection globally.  It is cat way near treble used, the GB “Glamour” item, the £1 PUC, and almost double the £1 KEVII.  A rare stamp.  I get one every few years or so in stock.  So nice stamps still DO surface, after a century of being hidden.

The £1 Seahorse is THE most attractive GB stamp ever, in my view.  And luckily, this one was superbly centred, within wide margins as you can see - most are not.  Near all on the market have horrid, really heavy thick smeary rubber “Killer” cancels, and/or many missing perfs due to the thick fibrous paper.


Just try finding one for sale!


In my view it is the most under-priced high value in the SG book.  Even decent fault free examples like this sell for exactly what a MUH 5/- Harbour Bridge does.  Any of 30 dealers in this country have those in stock right now - but likely none of them HERE have a £1 Seahorse, in any condition, at ANY price!  Anyway, this one sold very fast.

It will have been used on a parcel from the UK to Sydney, where the collection was formed.  Postal use of a £1 back in this era was most unusual.  Many all the UK high values “used” are from Telegrams or revenue use.  A very large % of the £1 Green KEVII have undated rubber GUERNSEY or JERSEY cancels from customs charges etc.

Near ALL the existing “used” QV £5 Oranges are from excise payments of Whisky etc - large numbers have Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh neat black steel cds from this use, often in multiples - even the ones with superb steel cds cancels.  Far more on that here from the world expert on these, Dr. John Horsey -


“FU” with RPS Certificate. Faked!


The £5 Orange stamp illustrated nearby is a truly lovely looking example of a key stamp, I am sure you’ll agree.  Nicely centred, great colour and perfs, and attractive.  This 1882 GB £5 Orange stamp is cancelled with a neat "Registered - Threadneedle Street - London" oval cancel of "24 - JA - 83".

The stamp very attractive stamp has the usual large single lined Anchor watermarks on each side. SG 133. Cat £12,500 used.  Comes complete with a 1985 Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL) clear photo Certificate of Genuineness saying -
"SG 133 £5 Orange on blued paper, used, is genuine".


The oblique angles show it all.


So a lovely looking stamp, cat £12,500 with a clear RPSL Certificate, should be worth near $A10,000 or so - correct?   Wrong - it is a FAKE!   A forger carefully picked/scratched off those "SPECIMEN" letters, and then added a dodgy cancel on top, making it worth $1000s more than a "Specimen".  The oblique photos above show it well if you look carefully.


Overprint handstamp was easily removed.



Indeed the very REASON the Australian Post Office moved from the handstamped “SPECIMEN overprint used on these 1913 stamps nearby, was their fear that crooks would buy the sets for £1, and get £3½ of usable postage if they removed the non-fast handstamp letters by simple bleaching, AND got a bunch of other FU stamps VFU to 5/- “free” as well.

Memos flew around the place, and the often very faintly applied 1913 rubber stamp ink handstamps were replaced on all issues for the next 50 years with sold black letter “SPECIMEN” wording, in a very bold CAPS font, and was machine metal type applied, using jet black letterpress permanent printer ink.

The Australian Post Office for over 50 years created a wide range of different outer design and shaped packs to sell these packs to the public. The empty pack montage shown nearby I passed on to a client, and many are surprised at just how many variances came out over the decades.  And this is by no means all of them!


A wide variety of Folders exist


These stamps (and the many other KGV era stamps that were in the same pack) were sold for £1 a set at GPOs, with the stated intention of interesting youngsters in collecting Australian stamps. The composition of the stamps in each pack changed very often over the ensuing decades, as new stamps were issued.


What a fantastic contents range.


Shown nearby is a full page ad for these in the April 1935 “Walkabout” magazine - a mass circulation publication to the public, and even then, few sets were sold, despite them having a CTO 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge set 4, KGV Die 2, 4½ violet, Kingsford Smith overprinted “OS” trio, 5/- Roos OS, and the high value Roos overprinted “Specimen” etc. 

Australia sold these “Specimen” packs well into the 1970s at all Philatelic Bureaux - even then still at only $2 (=£1) a pack, and as always, the content was altered to include newer sets that had come on stream.  The 1966 era pack with all the 24 diff Decimal issues up to $4 Navigators are still seen pretty often, and will cost you not much more than $A100 or so. 


Quite a deal for just £1!


The policy right to the end, was that the higher values were handstamped (1913 only) or overprinted (all other issues) with the word “SPECIMEN”. Obtaining a CofA watermark Specimen set of 3 high value Kangaroos “SPECIMEN” is a remarkably affordable way to fill those 3 gaps - costing $150 or so hinged.  Even an average USED trio will set you back around $1,000 these days!


Packs never sold very well.


History shows us that these packs never really sold well, given the quite superb value they represented.  For generations the corner CTO and “Specimen” contents were heavily sneered at by “serious” philatelists, being regarded as “Kiddies goodie bags” type stamps etc, and no-one was very keen on them. has a long 5,000 message thread on these CTO/Specimen stamps - - that in parts has re-written sections of the ACSC with new findings.  Prices today have gone nuts for many pieces.  Tons of original research in there, and for anyone collecting this area a MUST READ discussion to follow. 

Many issues were short lived with “SPECIMEN” overprints, and are costly.  The 1937 £1 Coronation “Robes” issue was done in small numbers starting 1944 in WW2, as the £1 grey Kangaroo was held in large numbers in Melbourne, so not many of that stamp were done, but of the 10/- “Robes”, plenty were sold.  Odd.


Part of a GENUINE WW2 Specimen pack.


The partial insides and cover, of an original pack I sold to a client are shown nearby to demonstrate how these stamps were arranged inside each “Specimen” pack in this pre-war era.  Here glassine strips were mostly employed, but the later 1960s issues were simply placed in a heap, into a small glassine, licked to inner cover of the folders.


$750 return on a $2 outlay.



Even as recently as the 1960s some rather rare sets were buyable for the same £1 ($2) purchase cost.  The 4 high value Navigator “Specimens” shown nearby I sold recently for $A750.   Not a bad return on the original PO investment of $2.  They were freely available to anyone who wanted them - oddly VERY few ordered them. 

Easily the smallest PO issue of anything Australian since WW2.  Recent ACSC research shows only 3,480 sets of 4 of these Navigators were ever supplied by Note Printing Branch to the Post Office, and many believe not all those were sold before the Decimal issue of February 1966, and hence were later destroyed


Even 1960s sets are valuable.


Most sets were bought as gifts for young collectors as the "Specimen" set only cost £1.  I was given a set of these in 1964 by an uncle, and proudly affixed them all into my little album - each with a large, yellow, vigorously licked stamp hinge!  I've even bought collections where kids have LICKED these sets into albums, as of course they all had gum on the back in the packs.  

Nearly all £1 “Robes” Specimens offered on amateur seller sites like ebay are Forgeries, and any Bunny buying ANYTHING pricey there gets zero guarantee of course.  Genuine copies are pretty easily spotted by experienced dealers, but the forger cowboys who inhabit ebay LOVE this stamp, as each fake makes them many $100s of easy profit, as GENUINE examples MUH fetch way into 4 figures these days.


Ebay Bunny Fodder Heaven.


Anyone buying ANYTHING overprinted or perfinned on ebay, where the overprint or perfin is worth much more than the normal, needs rocks in their heads.  As you are near always buying forgeries in that “Bunny Bargain” deal.  I offered a seller $50 for his £1 Robes as a curio reference this week - he paid $800 for it on ebay early last year, via a long departed spiv seller.  Brilliant “Investment”.

My sad seller blurted out that the dodgy unknown ebayer had as part of his description: ”All stamps fully genuine - 100% money back Guarantee”.  I laughed, and asked if some shifty spiv in a smoky pub offered him a “Solid Gold Rolex watch” with the same guarantee, if he would place much weight on THAT warranty!  So he lost $750.


*NEVER* buy these on ebay etc.


The lack of IQ and savvy shown by many stamp buyers on venues like ebay astounds me - week in and week out. has endless new threads from “Bargain Buyers” proudly showing their latest “treasure” purchased for $100s or “half retail”, and being shown it was nothing but a crude fake worth pennies.

Ebay do not care one iota - they make about 12% ebay and paypal fee total from EVERY transaction, whether the stamps are faked or not. They are clearly not the slightest bit interested in banning the most active and most blatant forgers, as they make very good money from them.  Sad but true – read this - you’ll be appalled -






"KNOWLEDGE IS POWER"  as I type incessantly -  I cannot over-stress the importance of having a solid library.  Often the very FIRST thing you look up, often pays for that book forever!  A number of wonderful reference books have appeared in recent times.  In many cases within Australia under the new parcel rules, buying 2 or 3 books costs the EXACT same shipping as ONE does, so do give it some thought!   Within NSW, 10 books costs about the same shipping as 1 book etc!  (Superb VFU, valuable franking used on ALL parcels as always.)  ALL in stock now - click on each link for FULL details of each book.  Hint for these as GIFTS!  Buy FIVE or more, and deduct 10% OFF THE LOT!  Glen


ACSC "KANGAROOS" 228 pages, Full Colour for first time. ESSENTIAL!  $A125 (Stock 382KQ)

“Postmarks of SA and Northern Territory” - THREE massive Volumes for only $A199 (Stock 583HW)

HUGE James Bendon "UPU Specimen Stamps 1878-1961" 534 page Hardbound $A170 (Stock 892LR)

Stanley Gibbons current AUSTRALIA AND STATES & PACIFICS - Near 400 pages $A90 (Stock 736EQ)

Hugh Freeman huge  “Barred Numeral Cancellations Of Victoria”  Now Full COLOUR!  $A195 (Stock 274BN)

Hugh Freeman Numeral Cancellations of New South Wales" Huge hard cover $A185 (Stock 736LE)

Hugh Freeman’s debut “NSW NUMERAL CANCELS” epic work on CD ROM just $A40! (Stock code 637KT)

Geoff Kellow the superb hardcover 'Stamps Of Victoria' Ret $165:BIG DISCOUNT - $A120! (Stock 842FQ)

Superb 2018 ACSC  "Australia Postal Stationery"  Catalogue - huge 484 pages colour $A240 (Stock 782DV)

ACSC New full colour catalogues for KGVI and QE2 – the BOTH huge A4 books $240 (Stock 892JC)

The Arthur Gray "KGV Reign" Collection, Superb hard bound leather Catalogue just $A65 (Stock 368WF)
500 page ACSC New “Australia KGV Reign” catalogue in Full Colour - just  $A170 (Stock 382KX)





Get my regular market update emails FREE!   Stamp gossip, price trends, record sale prices, and many one-time stamp specials, wholesale bargains,  and exciting offers and breaking philatelic news.  A mini stamp magazine in every email!   "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER".  The ONE stamp list you MUST be on,  to keep in touch with the rapidly changing world market.  One client made $65,000 profit in a few months after following my specific advice.  Sign up securely and quickly by clicking HERE  to access my automated data base.  And wiser still ADD your home AND work email, if I only have one right now.   Add a stamp friend's email address if you wish.  One short click and you are subscribed to probably the most read email list in the stamp world! 



If you would like to be notified of updates to this website, Click HERE. If have any questions,
or comments regarding my site, please email me at


Search this site

Search all my 300+ web pages! Simply type in what you are looking for. "Penny Black", "Latvia", "Imprints", "Morocco", "Fungi" "Year Books", etc! Using quotes ( " ) is more accurf used with no quotes. Search is NOT case sensitive. Tip - keep the search word singular - "Machin" yields  far more matches than "Machins" etc.



I am a Proud Member Of :

Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for over 35 years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association.  (New York) 
Also Member of; Philatelic Traders' Society (London)   IFSDA (Switzerland) etc




Time and Temp in Sunny Sydney!





Full Time Stamp Dealer in Australia for 35+ years.

Life Member - American Stamp Dealers' Association. (ASDA - New York) Also Member - Philatelic Traders' Society
 (PTS London) and many other philatelic bodies.

ALL Postage + Insurance is extra. Visa/BankCard/MasterCard/Amex all OK, at NO fee, even for "Lay-Bys"!  All lots offered are subject to my usual Conditions of Sale, copy upon request .

Sydney's BIGGEST STAMP BUYER: Post me ANYTHING via Registered Mail for my same-day cheque.  Avoid copping the Now normal 45% Auction "Commissions" (15% Buyer + 20% Seller + GST, etc) AND their five-month delays!

 Read HERE for details.

"Lothlórien", 4 The Tor Walk, CASTLECRAG (Sydney), N.S.W. 2068 Australia

Phone 7 Days: (02) 9958-1333

PO Box 4007, Castlecrag. NSW. 2068
E-Mail: The Number #1 Web Sites:  and



Sign up AUTOMATICALLY to my world renowned bi-weekly stamp gossip mailing list!

Click here to see MANY 1000s of stamp lots for sale at low $A Nett prices

Click here for all you need to know re SELLING your stamps for SPOT CASH

Click here for the current Monthly "Internet Only" special offers - CHEAP!

Click HERE to read all my recent International stamp magazine articles.

Click here to get back to the main Homepage

Click here to ORDER on-line ANY items from ANY of my dozens of lists

Click for all info on Conditions Of Sale, Payments, Shipping, Returns &c 

Click here for the complete library of my very unusual world travels!

How to PAY me.  I accept EVERYTHING - even blankets and axes and beads!

Australia Post Annual YEAR BOOKS - massive stock - '27% off' discount offer today!

Visit my new page on RARITIES - Roos & other expensive photo items.

Stampboards where Philatelists Meet..

Instant Currency Conversion

Just click here...


E-mail me at -