Saturday, 7 September 2013

Australia 1½d KGV SG59a Cracked Electro?

A potential new find

I recently purchased a large holding of Australia King George V used heads (and they look wonderful in a stock book!). 

The varieties on the KGV heads can be a life-long obsession for collectors, and it becomes second nature to put every stamp under the glass for a closer look.

Whilst sorting, I came across this stamp. It's SG59a 1½d chocolate, large single watermark, perf 14. 

Obviously, the top left corner caught my eye. This looks for all the world like a cracked, if not broken, electro. A closer scan reveals that the top left corner of the stamp is slanted downwards. 

The stamp is intact, with no hidden or repaired tears.

I can find no reference to anything this dramatic in the Australian Commonwealth Specialists Catalogue (ACSC - King George V 2007).

If anyone has a significant number of this stamp, please check them. I would appreciate any information about the status of this flaw

Monday, 2 September 2013

A 1938 Cover With A Story to Tell

What do New Zealand, Hollywood, an actor and model aircraft have in common?

Some fascinating things come across my desk.

This 1938 cover, from New Zealand to the USA, doesn't seem like much. However, I recognised the recipient's name. Reginald Denny was a successful Hollywood actor.

It was sent from Model Aircraft Supplies in Christchurch, which begs the question why they would be writing to an actor at an address other than "c/- MGM" etc.

The reason is that Denny was a mad aircraft hobbyist, who opened a hobby store on Hollywood Boulevard in 1935. It makes perfect sense for the shop in Christchurch to write to him. Denny also established "Radioplane", a maker of military target drones.

The cover is franked with SG91 and SG92, both have which are scarce with inverted and reversed watermarks. I'm going to play around and see if I can extract a watermark.

The two red marks across the airmail label makes this a jusqu'a cover. Jusqu'a means "up to", or in philatelic terms "as far as". The cover is marked "via Air Mail to England". The jusqu'a markings were applied when the cover arrived in England, and the cover would then have continued it's journey to the US by sea. Unfortunately, there are no other markings on the cover.

A fascinating little piece of postal history.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Very Common Stamp From Hungary With a Great Story

...but it's even better from the back!

In 1943, Hungary issued a series of stamps featuring historical heroes. The 4f value features Janos Hunyadi, a general and Governor of Hungary in the 15th Century.

After the end of World War II in 1945, the stamps were overprinted with new values. The 4f (forint) value was overprinted three times, with this stamp being the third overprint, 10f on 4f in carmine, SG800 Scott 657. Numerous overprint errors exist on this provisional issue, and it's a minimum value stamp in all catalogues.

In 1946, the Hungarian currency, the Pengo, collapsed, and Hungary went through a period of hyper-inflation. 

Reminiscent of Germany in the early 1920's, stamps with a face value of 500,000 billion pengos were issued during 1946, before the currency reform later in the year. Prior to the issue of the high face-value stamps, remaining stocks of low face value definitives were overprinted with a code, with the stamp being sold at the relevant rate for that code on a given day. The modern equivalent would be the "Forever" stamps.

In this case, our stamp was overprinted with "TI. 2.", which was an abbreviation for "Tavolsagi level", or "Inland letter", thus becoming SG890, Scott 811. I'm assuming that the "2" represented a different rate, but would appreciate feedback on this.

So there we have a stamp overprinted twice, telling the story of the collapse of an economy after a long and bitter war. The story should end there. That is, until you turn the stamp over.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

I Need a Website Designer

Referrals and Recommendations Welcomed

I'm embarking on a medium to long term project to develop a website, and need a website designer to work with me.

I'm looking for a dedicated, professional, and committed designer that can work across time-zones if necessary (remembering that I'm in Australia), and can take constructive criticism and direction. I'll need to see live examples of websites created, and testimonials are required. Therefore, no beginners will qualify.

If you are a website designer (or can recommend someone without hesitation) and can meet the above criteria, please email me at 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Grumpy Old Men's Club

Definitely "THE" Friendliest Stamp Forum on the Internet Celebrates It's 3rd Birthday

There's more than one stamp forum on the internet, and more than one that touts itself as being the friendliest.

The Grumpy Old Men's Club (where you don't need to be grumpy, old or a man!) is, in my opinion, the only one that can lay claim to the title. Created in 2010, and told it would last a month by the owner of another forum, The GOMC recently celebrated it's 3rd birthday.

There's a distinct lack of rules and no overbearing admin or moderation. There's a genuine sense of a club atmosphere, as members suggest Ebay items for others, find items for others, and produce gems like this for members just for fun

If you think you'd like to join a diverse range of philatelists, collectors and beginners, where mutual respect is the order of the day, click here

I hope to see you there soon!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Ebay Realisations Are Hot

or, How to Be a Constant Underbidder!

I buy most of my Ebay items from the UK and US, so most items end in the wee small hours when beauty sleep is trying it's best to work it's magic.

I use Gavel Snipe to place my bids for me, and I've had a spectacularly unsuccessful week, with prices heading upwards for the Silver Jubilee material I'm constantly seeking.

Here's a few examples:

First, a cheap stamp. Straits Settlements Silver Jubilee 8c, SG257, with a clear strike of Changi, Proud D2, although no year is shown. I collect the postmarks of the small post offices of the Straits Settlements, and I have no Changi in the collection

The stamp has a CV of £3.25, and Proud rates the postmark as 40, or £4. The stamp sold at double CV, £6.50!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Knowledge is Power

Sir Francis Bacon Said That  (Not a Well-Known Australian Stamp Dealer!)

The number of philatelic publications available to collectors is mind-boggling and can be overwhelming. 

Unless you're a basic, worldwide collector, it's important to keep your library up to date with catalogues other than Stanley Gibbons, Scott, Michel, Yvert & Tellier and the other majors.

I've been on a bit of a shopping spree, and these are the additions to my bookshelf this month!

Stefan Heijtz is the acknowledged expert in Falkland Islands philately, and his catalogue is simply marvellous.   Profusely illustrated in colour, with values based on auction and retail sales, this is a must-have for anyone with more than a passing interest in Falklands philately

As I'm also a collector of cinderellas and recently came across some scarce early Lundy material, I purchased the Lundy Island catalogue. It lists all printings, quantities and varieties, and everything is priced. Believe me, the early material is very much sought after!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Falkland Islands/Las Malvinas Dispute

A Brief Philatelic History

On March 10-11 2013, the Falkland Islanders will vote in a referendum on the following question:

  • Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, YES or NO
It's doubtful that the referendum will end the dispute over sovereignty of the islands, as the Argentinian Government has already declared it illegal, and will not recognise the result. That response would suggest that they believe the Islanders will vote YES.

Information about the political history of the Falklands is available elsewhere. 

This blog is an attempt to provide a brief (and no doubt incomplete) philatelic history of the dispute. 

As far as I can ascertain, the Falkland Islands first appeared on a stamp in 1898. The famous Canada 2c Christmas stamp, SG168, showed a map of the world, with the Empire, including the Falklands, in red. Thus, the first illustration of the islands on a stamp was provocative!

I've found no other reference to the islands on a stamp between 1898 and 1933, when the Falklands themselves issued the Centenary of British Administration set. I think this is one of the most beautiful sets of stamps issued during the King George V period, and I use the £1 stamp featuring the King as my online avatar. 

The 3d stamp, SG131, showed a map of the islands

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

There’s No Racism in Philately

But There’s Snobbery Aplenty!

One of the beauties of our hobby is the ability for collectors the world over to share one language. The language of stamps. Stamp collecting brings the same level of engagement and joy to young and old, rich and poor, regardless of geographic location, race, creed or colour.

However, there’s a disturbing trend towards snobbery, manifested in the phrase “serious collector”. I don’t know if the phrase has just become trendy, or if it’s been used for many years and I’ve just never noticed, or been offended by it, before.

It’s a phrase that immediately brings to mind cashed-up philatelists with bank security boxes and albums full of classic stamps, and I think that’s precisely the market most dealers are interested in today.

But what exactly is a “serious collector”?

Well, I suppose I am! I collect a specific period, and am interested in watermarks, shades and perforations. I also look for known (and unknown) varieties on the stamps of my chosen period. Sadly, I’m anything but cashed-up!

This is where my confusion, and irritation, starts.

I have a number of side collections, that I spend time with when I need a break from the “heavy” stuff. I have thematic collections of Rowland Hill, Penny Black anniversaries, birds, British military aircraft, military uniforms, postal history of the SS Bremen, paquebot and TPO postmarks, and too many more to remember.

I recall quite fondly the reaction of the chap behind the counter in one of the few remaining stamp shops in Melbourne, when I walked up to him with a handful of Rowland Hill miniature sheets from the likes of the Central African Republic, Liberia and Guyana. If he could have tilted his head back further to look down his nose at me, I’m sure he would have.

Of course, his demeanour changed fairly promptly when I asked if he had any holdings of mint KGV British Africa. I went from a collector of jam labels to a “serious collector” in 10 seconds. That’s the snobbery in our hobby in action. 

Our hobby is in decline. A recent survey suggested that 90% of people under the age of 18 had never touched a stamp, which is hardly surprising. 

The collector base is getting older and, hopefully, wiser. Perhaps we should all be pulling in the same direction and respecting the entire hobby, regardless of whether we’re searching for a particular Cape Triangle on cover or the last Mickey Mouse stamp to complete a Disney collection.

I voiced this opinion on both Facebook and Twitter, and received little feedback. This suggests one of two things. Either collectors are apathetic, or I'm alone in feeling that the philatelic community treats the cashed-up specialist and the collector differently.

Surely we should all be treated as “serious collectors” in the pursuit of our hobby, regardless of what we collect?

Remember, there was a time when you couldn’t give Chinese stamps away!

(oh, about those mint KGV British Africa? No, he didn’t have any!)

Monday, 21 January 2013

Remembering King George V

3 June 1865 - 21 January 1936

His Majesty George V, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, passed away on 21 January 1936

For reasons I still don't fully understand, his reign has become important to me, and the focus of my collecting.

The stamps of his reign are becoming harder to find, and prices continue to rise. When I have difficulty finding anything I need or want, I enjoy searching for non-philatelic items that can add social context to my collection, and where better to start than postcards? Here are just a few of mine.

This postcard shows the Downey portrait of His Majesty, which was used for the much-maligned first Great Britain issue of his reign

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Welcome to 2013!

Three Major World Exhibitions

With 2012 now behind us, we can all look forward to a year of major philatelic events.

The big event from an Australian perspective is the Australia 2013 exhibition in Melbourne from 10-15 May. The exhibition is being held primarily to celebrate the centenary of the iconic (if rather unattractive in my opinion!) kangaroo series. The 1d red was issued on 1 January 2013. 

When I found this stamp, I was convinced that it was a first day cancel, but under magnification, there is a clear remnant of a "2", making it the 21st. It's still a nice early usage though.

You can visit the Australia 2013 website here. I'll be visiting the exhibition, along with many other members of the Grumpy Old Men's Club

Other major world exhibitions are Thailand 2013 in Bangkok in August, and Brasiliana 2013 in Rio de Janeiro in November.

If you can get along to a major exhibition, you should. You'll either be hugely invigorated and motivated, or overawed!