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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

September 2007




Dealer sells stamp for a million dollars.


According to the August 13 “Linn's Stamp News”  he did anyway. The dealer is a member of -  Jay Parrino from Kansas.

Apparently he sold it to someone in the entertainment business for $US1,000,000.  It was a MUH USA 1918 24c “Inverted Jenny” airmail.

In this case the numerical grade of 80 is not important (not a high grade at all) .. being MUH original gum is what was the selling point I deduced.


Scott catalogue for a MUH single is $US375,000 in VF grade (80) which this is, so the buyer appears to have paid about triple Scott.


The Million Dollar 24c Jenny



I understand this is THE highest price paid for any USA  stamp, at any time – just beating  the figure obtained at auction for the famous 1868 1c “Z Grill.” (Although the owner of that paid $US2.97million for the block 4 he swapped that for!)


The “Z Grill” sold at auction in 1998 for $US935,000, and like the British Guiana 1c, and the Swedish “Tre Skilling Yellow” would all get MUCH more than $1 million each if sold today.


This “Inverted Jenny” just sold was number 68 in the one sheet of 100 discovered. This stamp is not especially “rare” – just famous.  


Bill Gross who I wrote about last month still owns 4 mint blocks of 4 of the 6 known “Inverted Jenny” blocks, even after his block 4 "trade" for the “Z grill.”

When I attended “Pacific 97” in San Francisco I took a photo (and published it locally) of dealer Harry Hagendorf holding up one of three BLOCKS of 4 of this stamp on his stand for sale!


 Another dealer had 2 copies, and a European dealer displayed yet another block of 4.

Eighteen examples on sale in one place does NOT make it “rare” by any definition. Scarce - yes, famous - yes, but many stamps are known with only 1 or 2 copies existing. THEY are "Rare".

But it is all VERY good publicity for stamps in general.


 ebay dodgy stamp sellers


One invaluable service that offers is a sounding board for the many dodgy sellers that inhabit eBay.


There are sadly a good number of folks who knowingly offer material that is not what it is alleged to be. Even when advised it is fake.


The majority of sellers on eBay are honest, but the ones who are not certainly deserve the very bad press they get. highlighted this recently when a seller called “danagirl*” offered something worded exactly as below as lot 260128285634




This crude unwatermarked reprint is a free giveaway type item from “Stamp News” to new subscribers. It has a retail value of a dollar or so.


Members of stampboards contacted this danagirl* seller well before the sale ended - advising it was a common reprint, and suggested he/she added that info to the auction write-up so as to inform bidders. Seller did nothing.


Some clueless buyer using the handle “vto3gold” bid this rubbish up to $152.50. And then left positive eBay feedback to the seller!




Fake                            and                        Genuine

I am not sure how many times I have typed this in my “Stamp News” articles over the decades -  but here we go again.


The 1920 Ross Smith vignette if genuine is watermarked – with the well known “2nd Watermark” Wide Crown over A – appearing numerous times on each sheetlet. They are crisply printed, and are in a distinctive deep steel blue. has a number of threads listing up all sorts of fakes and cons and woefully described Australian material offered on eBay.


Often some very well known eBay sellers are featured in these lists, and regular eBay buyers are well advised to glance over the listings there – you may get a surprise!


Superb Banknote Book


I was privileged to be invited to the launch of a very interesting book recently.

It was held at the very historic The Mint in Macquarie Street Sydney.  One of the oldest surviving buildings from the First Fleet days. It was built as the "Rum Hospital".





The launch was a most  lavish affair that I know cost very many $10,000s to stage.


Ian Macfarlane, ex Governor of the Reserve Bank (1996-2006) made the main speech - and wrote the book foreword.

The book has a surprising amount of Australian stamp content, hence the mention of it here.  Dozens and dozens of stamp photos are in here.


Melbourne stamp dealers Richard and Andy Juzwin flew up for the launch. Kevin Duffy, 3 times ex President of ASDA/APTA was there, as he retains a keen interest in banknotes - as indeed do many stamp collectors and dealers.

I owned, published and edited the successful "Australian Coin and Banknote Magazine" ("CAB") for a time, and was always surprised how many of my clients had subscriptions. 


There is a surprisingly large "cross-over", as banknotes - like stamps BOTH appeal to many of the same collectors due to their superb engraving.

Dauer has a very valuable Australian stamp collection, strong in Kangaroos for instance.

The book is titled "Australian History 1901 to 2001 - As Seen Through Banknotes".  It is a lavish tome that was clearly the "baby' of wealthy American medico  Edward Dauer and his wife Joanne, from Florida.





A huge work, 100s of pages thick, on heavy gloss paper, in a heavy duty slipcase. The book weighs in at 3½ kilos - or 6 pounds for our American readers.  The ULTIMATE coffee table book!

It is very broadly, a history book of Australia.  And events that were not depicted on banknotes - such as the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Vietnam War, are extensively covered by stamp photos.


A full mint sheet in the case of the Harbour Bridge issue, and a Registered cover with a block of the 5/-!



Weighs 6 pounds


A large number of banknotes are illustrated that were never issued, including different £1,000 values.  The book had the full support of the Reserve Bank in respect to archive access etc. 


It is the first time many of these photos have been published together.





  The one article I loved most was the set of "Royal" banknotes that staunch monarchist Sir Robert Menzies was determined our decimal currency would be named in 1966.  

 A Royally *DUMB* name for a currency!

Thanks goodness the Cabinet and/or common sense apparently over-ruled him! The full set of printed and prepared “Royal” notes are illustrated in the book.

We got THAT close to this silly name being inflicted on us. Finished notes were even prepared. Imagine paying 5 "royals" for a beer!

My thanks to the Reserve Bank Australia for supplying me these photos above – I do not believe they have ever been published in any magazine before.
The book has a strong section on the pre 1901 banknotes.

Along the way, some of the more obscure and intriguing note issues of Australia post 1901 are outlined, such as the fascinating Hay Internment Camp WW2 issues, the WW1 Rabaul military issues, and the notes issued on Fanning Island Plantations etc.

$600,000 Banknote “1”



I personally love the Australian banknotes issued in the 1913-1930s era. illustrated nearby is "Number 1" in any banknote catalogue for Australia.

The 1913 Collins/Allen 10/-  issue.  This is serial number 4, which was presented to the Prime Minister Andrew Fisher along with number 5.  It was first offered to the market in 1976 by pubic auction in London.

John Pettit Rare Banknotes sold that pair recently for $A1.2 million. (Serial number 1 of this same design sold in January 2000 for $A1 million.).

The book is expensive at $A250 plus post, but has sold well even before release date.  One interstate banknote dealer ordered 1000 shipped direct to him from the USA - many will be given to his clients as goodwill gifts.


A large accountancy firm has ordered a quantity off John Pettit as Christmas gifts for good clients.

It is that kind of book!  For those readers unlikely to receive one via those paths, I stock them as does John Pettit.


The production of the book is a decade long passion of the Dauers and John Pettit.  They had an art designer working on it for ages – who even flew out from Florida for the launch with the Dauers.


The quality of the colour images is just superb.


Retail supplies are expected to arrive from the USA around the time this magazine is printed.  A perfect Father’s Day gift to hint at!



Plastic Fantastics



The popular new stamp bulletin board had a very interesting discussion this week about the stamps of Bhutan that were actually vinyl 33 rpm records.


I must confess I had never heard of or seen these strange items before. An American member was seeking information about these items.


A NSW member Ken Pullen not only came up with a photo of the set of 7 different coloured record stamps, but he also showed the new issue sheet that related to them!


Photos of both sides of that April 1973 new issue bulletin are posted up on



Sold for $US402.50



It outlines that the issue price of the set of 7 was $US4.  First day covers were 25c extra!


They were stated to be the world’s first stamp set that played music. I do not doubt it.


I found it fascinating. Ken says he has played the records on a phonograph and they certainly do work.


One stamp has the national anthem of Bhutan on it.  Others had national folk songs etc.


Ken tells me he purchased his set in 1990 for just $A25.



Catalogued $US346



Here is the amazing thing – in the current 2007 Scott catalogue the set of 7 is a valued at a whopping $US346 mint or used.


And if you think that is absurd, the stampboards website points out a set recently sold on eBay for $US402.50. 


That is more than a mint 5/- Sydney Harbour Bridge stamp. That eBay auction attracted 24 bids starting at $34.99.


I learn something new about stamps every day – I had never seen this set before, much less knew it worth more than a mint 5/- Harbour Bridge!


$US199.99 on cover



I noticed a single stamp on Registered cover to India offered for sale on eBay as I typed this for $US199.00 – lot 140071334431 – that is around the price of a used 5/- Bridge!


I saw a news piece that Bhutan will issue the world’s first CD Rom stamps in 2008 – so maybe order a few of these and tuck them away if you like a gamble.







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