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Glen Stephens
Monthly "Stamp News" Market Tipster Column

September 2009




Wave the Flag

Please take a very close look at this cover below, that sold recently at Prestige Auctions in Melbourne.

There is nothing unusual about the stamp. The date of the cancel - Christmas Eve 1912 ... is not relevant to the price it got. Any other date would have achieved about the same result. i.e. it is not First Day of Issue etc.

There is nothing unusual about the recipient or the address.

I'd have left it in the $1 junk box, if it were in my stock.

So what did this sell for ?


On I ran a guessing poll, asking members to vote on the following - 


“What did this ordinary looking 1d 1912 Vic letter sell for?  You are guessing the auction invoice price.”


1. Around $A4  

2. Around $A40  

3. Around $A400

4. Around $A4,000 

5. Around $A40,000 

6. Nowhere even close to any of the above.  


Please take a guess at one of these BEFORE you click on the thread link below, or read down further, and see how accurately you guessed!


Most guessed wrongly

On stampboards, only 21 of 51 votes on the Poll were correct. shows the result of the poll, and discussions of rusted bullets etc!


One of the Canadian members posted that the top star on the cancel was engraved upside down. 


Another Member from Norway posted that error may not be so odd, assuming the cylinder was engraved at Krag's workshop in Kristiania, Norway, on the opposite side of the globe!


The auction description for this cover said - 


"1912 cover to Hawthorn with 1d pink tied by a superb strike of the rare Melbourne "boxed flag" Krag continuous-machine cancellation, the flap removed otherwise superb.


Ex Purves & Hugh Freeman, who advises that only a couple of other covers are recorded and they are defective.  One of the great rarities of Melbourne postmarks, and of world machine cancels.


It was in use on a trial basis for at most three days in June and December 1912"


As I always have said - "Knowledge Is Power" in stamps.  A week or two back I'd have left this cover with a missing flap in the junk box, so we all learn something new each day!


The answer is, this cover was invoiced recently by Prestige for well over estimate at around $A4,000, when the commissions and extras were tacked on.


It goes to prove that a good eye, and some knowledge, and a good memory, can be VERY rewarding in stamps.


I have no doubt that based on this article, other examples of this cancel will turn up, from readers who had no idea it was scarce or valuable, and have one reposing in their collections.


Challenge to NZ post


Well known New Zealand stationery manufacturer Croxley has launched its own postal service to rival New Zealand Post.


Croxley, a 100% owned subsidiary of US-based multinational stationery giant Office Max, says it aims to corner 10 per cent of New Zealand's mail market within three years.


But it will face an uphill battle against New Zealand Post, which has easily maintained a virtual stranglehold on mail in the decade since it lost its postal monopoly under Government legislation.


Enter the Challenger!



To provide its new service, Croxley will rely on New Zealand Post to deliver its mail under an interline agreement, leaving it effectively at its larger rival's mercy.


Croxley has registered as a postal operator, in competition with NZ Post, and will offer a full range of stamps and pre-paid envelopes under the company's new “Croxley Mail” brand.





National Network


At present, Croxley already makes and distributes New Zealand Post stamps and envelopes through a variety of national retailers including Office Max, The Warehouse, and Whitcoulls.


Croxley New Zealand MD Joe Naus said he expected most of those retailers would switch to the Croxley product, giving it almost five per cent of the National market straight away.


“The move will offer New Zealanders more convenience, as our stamps and envelopes will be sold through a wider range of retailers than currently provided by state-owned postal operator - NZ Post”  Mr Naus said.


Part of the new set of 6


The first set of six Croxley Mail stamps to be issued feature a series of photographer Paul Green’s landscape images, photographed under the moonlight at Muriwai Beach on Auckland’s west coast.


“People are often surprised to learn the photographs, with blue skies, were taken at night under full moon. It’s the night element that makes them look slightly unusual.


On one hand, it’s a realistic interpretation of what’s there, but on the other it’s quite surreal”  Green said.


Apologies for the rather poor quality images of the 2 stamps, but my various attempts to contact Croxley Mail in NZ for better scans failed to get a response!


In 1998, the ‘Postal Services Act’ removed New Zealand Post's statutory monopoly on the carriage of letters, opening up the market to full competition. This came into force
April 1, 1998.


NZ deregulated in 1998


The Act deregulated the New Zealand postal market by removing New Zealand Post's monopoly on delivery of the standard letter.


Under the Act, anyone can process and deliver mail, at any cost, as long as they registered as a postal operator with the Ministry of Economic Development.



Range of  existing private post labels



There are currently over 25 individual postal operators, including New Zealand Post, registered on the Ministry's register of postal operators.


The Act requires every postal operator to identify the mail they carry by marking items with a 'postal identifier' – a stamp, marking or impression that is unique to each operator, and clearly represents to the public which operator has carried the item.


As you can see from a sample of “stamps” postally used shown nearby, they look near identical to many NZ post recent peel and stick emissions.


A STACK of operators who failed to make the grade, and whose permits have been removed -  are listed here along with the current ones -


Papua Powers On


The power of Papua continues to shine. This very popular collecting area just goes from strength to strength.


Prestige Auctions had a nice offering in July 28 in Melbourne when the ‘Peter Troy’ collection was sold for $A834,008. 
The Deluxe hard-back catalogue was without doubt the finest ever sale catalogue produced in Australia, at any time. A credit to Prestige

A $2,760 cancel 



They key stamp pieces as expected did very well, as they contained many rarities, but to me the results that surprised most were the prices for some of the postmarks.


The very common 1d Lakatoi stamp illustrated nearby has a light and barely readable violet cancel of “Nivani” – stated to be dated ‘JY 25, 1901’, but I can’t be sure of that date, as it is very faint.


It is regarded as a rare cancel type, and was invoiced for $A2,760 on a $A500 estimate.  I personally would only give it a 3 out 10 score as to strike clarity and readabillity, but clearly others disagreed!


Most collectors and dealers (me included!) would likely leave this and the 2 others shown nearby on the album or stockbook page, as they simply do not look remarkable to most eyes.



Likewise the nearby “GIRA” cancel on a normal 2½d blue, also with a barred ‘BNG’ cancel believed applied in Boga ... that sold for even more money –  and with postage cost, was invoiced for a tad more than $A3,000.


The common ½d Green Lakatoi, with a rather blurry “KIMUSI” cancel sold for over $A1,000 - on a $100 estimate etc



A 4 figure cancel.




The issued Papua stamps held many surprises too.  The 6d “Small Papua” SG 70 illustrated nearby, was invoiced at $A18,400 – despite an SG value of “only” £5000 – nearly double the full catalogue, for a clearly rare stamp.


It last changed hands for $A9,520 in 2003, so has near doubled in 6 years.  Papua has been a good horse to back!


Big price of $A18,400

  New Guinea, NWPI and Papua all continue to do well in the marketplace. I’ve written for 30 years that key NWPI stamps have been absurdly under-priced by the trade.

I recently sold the quite superbly fresh block of 6 illustrated nearby, showing 2 x “ABC” setting vertical strips of 3, for about what a single MUH stamp with the “NWPI” scratched off would bring!



Wildly under-priced even today 


The numbers issued of this overprint were just a very tiny FRACTION of the Australian basic stamp, as we know.  £6 was an absolute fortune back then.  


Common sense would say this piece should retail for several times what I sold it for, and I very much suspect the buyer of it will do VERY nicely with it down the track, as he is buying while prices are still quite heavily under-valued, compared to true scarcity. 


My advice – see nice NWPI, and buy it at today’s levels ... simple as that


Melbourne “Stampshow 2009”


The “BIG” event of the Australian stamp calendar of 2009 was the 4 day event held in Melbourne July 23/26. 


Held at the Rod Laver Tennis Centre in the CBD, it was quite well attended in lovely weather, seeing it was mid Winter then.


I was there for the 4 days as the organisers had kindly offered a table to, which was manned by a roster of volunteers for the duration.


We signed up many new members, and more important were able to meet scores of members at the activities and dinners and meetings etc that we planned.


On Friday night we had a well attended Member Dinner in the city that was a great ‘get to know you’ evening.


On the Saturday, we made the 1 hour train expedition out to Croydon in the lower Dandenongs.


First destination was the “Mindbogglers” shop of stampboards legend “MrBoggler” – who is the Life President of the GOMC (“Grumpy Old Men’s Club”) – a secret group that has collectors begging to be approved as members!


So a large contingent of stampboard members gathered outside Max Stern’s city shop, and headed out to Croydon.


Due to the wonder of computers we had a “Live From Stampshow” discussion going on for the duration – and afterwards – complete with heaps of colour photos as they were taken, see –


“Stamp News” Barbecue


After a pleasant interlude at MrBoggler’s, a fleet of vehicles were arranged to transport us all to the huge new “Stamp News” warehouse premises at nearby Boronia.


Editor Kevin Morgan laid on a lavish Barbecue for about two dozen guests, and gave a tour of the 2 level operation, and a very pleasant afternoon was had by all.


Saturday night was the Palmares Award Dinner, at the rather astonishing, olde-worlde and VERY private “Savage Club” in the CBD. 


Well lubricated by the free flowing Chardonnay, I bid several $1000s on buying “Number 1” items from the show fund raiser Auction. 


Main surprise of "Stampshow 2009" was that Australia Post allowed 200 completely IMPERF current Prestige booklets, to be sold by the organisers, numbered 1-200. 


All of these were numbered in Gold by the PO, and I secured 20 of them, for collectors of the unusual, if anyone is interested.  


On Sunday had an official 90 minute meeting in the Prahran Room, which was also very well attended.


My thanks to the organisers and committee of the show for their endless help and co-operation, and to our many volunteers manning the stand.


A great show, and my surveys of the dealers were they all had a better than budgeted show.


Sadly space constraints mean many photos I took cannot be shown here - but dozens more are found at -


Experienced Melbourne dealer Peter Strich summed it up and said: “I’ve seen lots of skeletons from the closet here.”


When asked that that meant, Peter said he’d seem clients he’d not heard or set eyes on for a decade during the show!


That is VERY good for stamps. 



APTA President Michael Eastick shocked at size of cheque due to Paul Fletcher of Millennium!

Part of the crowd at Kevin Morgan’s (second from left) lavish BBQ at new Boronia Headquarters

Show President Stephanie Bromser, and Treasurer Frank Pauer, hard at work selling souvenirs.

Two new members signing up for, with Margo and Barbara supervising

Moderator “fromdownunder” and “MrBoggler” at his shop, giving Glen a mystery Celtic good luck sign!

Floor manager Tony Presgrave in front of his huge challenge - to get all Frames assembled correctly







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