Following the death KGVI in February of 1952 his daughter Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen. Her reign of course is still current. This article refers to the stamps issued in her reign prior to the introduction of decimal currency into Australia on 14 February, 1966.
Technological advances in the printing and production process resulted in stamps generally of a higher quality than in the preceding periods. Photogravure printing was introduced in 1956 using overseas printers with the Note Printing branch eventually installing its own equipment in 1962. Great cost and efficiency gains were made when plastic was introduced into the plate manufacture process in 1959. Of major significance came the introduction of electronic mail sorting, facing and cancelling equipment. This required fluorescent substances to be incorporated in the stamp printing inks and papers to activate the equipment.
With the new monarch came the mandatory replacement of the definitive issues. The first series of QEII Heads (1953-59) consisted of some 3.6 billion stamps. It is not difficult to understand from these numbers why the catalogue values attributed to these stamps is largely just a handling fee. This is also true for many stamps from this period. Australia’s population grew from 8.5 to 11 million people during the period 1953-65.
Whilst the period does not have the historical and nostalgic feel of the KGV era, nor, albeit to a lesser extent that of the KGVI era, there are nonetheless some more notable General Issues for you to seek out. The usual trap, pitfalls and opportunities are there to be experienced or avoided as the case may be. For the specialist, many plate variety studies can be undertaken and with the introduction of the fluorescent substances as mentioned above, UV reaction studies await you. Of course the world-class Brusden White (BW) specialist catalogue should be at your finger tips. Visit www.apta.com.au to locate your favourite accessories stockist of this and the other fabulous study material that has been produced for Australian collectors and philatelist alike.
I might just mention at this point that I believe there is also a special opportunity from this period – but more on that later. First here are a few of the more interesting issues:
1960-64 Australian Native Animal Series
Designed by the late Eileen Mayo whose outstanding art and design work has been seen in almost every medium. This relatively low cost set of six are just common issues, but the intracity and depth in her work is anything but. For the philatelist the 8d Tiger Cat is a popular study stamp. The Mayo essays occasionally surface at auction and are keenly sought when they do.
1960-64 Australian Native Animal Series. Designed by Eileen Mayo.
You don’t need a fortune to own great art!
Publicity photos issued by the Postmaster General’s department.
Eileen Mayo’s undenominated pencil sketch on paper, unadopted T
Tasmanian tiger vertical format. Image courtesy Brusden-White.
6d Banded Anteater – makeup usage.
8d Tiger Cat – letter rate to foreign countries, airmail rate to NZ, (2nd weight step) letter rate within Australia and British Empire.
9d Kangaroo – makeup usage.
11d Rabbit Bandicoot – Combined letter rate and certified mail fee within Australia
1/- Platypus – Airmail rate to Malaya/Singapore
1/2d Tasmanian Tiger – (4th weight step) letter rate within Australia and British Empire. Postcard airmail rate to Europe.
Market: Set (6) MUH $6!
1961-64 5s Cattle Industry
Designed by Bruce Stewart of the Note Printing Branch Melbourne, this attractive definitive depicts an Aboriginal stockman at work and honours the Northern Territory cattle industry. It replaced the 5/- Coat of Arms on 26 July, 1961. Most albums have a spot for two versions of the stamp – the Cream paper and the White paper. As there is a 6:1 price ratio differential it is worthwhile understanding the differences and being aware of a common trap.
Brusden-White lists 3 shades:
A- Purple-Brown (cream paper)
Cattle Industry Cream paper BW shade A (Purple-Brown). This stamp is often confused with the White paper shade C (Bright Red-Brown) and is the so-called intermediate between cream and white. With MUH Cream $20 and MUH White at $125 it pays to get it right.
B- Reddish Brown, cream paper (top)
C- Bright Reddish Brown, white paper (bottom) Cattle Industry definitives. Cream Paper (top B.)
and the more valuable White Paper (bottom C.)
"Consult a professional if you are uncertain, they will be able
to show you many examples from their trading stock".
The trap stamp is A, it is often confused with C. The more general catalogues only list cream and white papers. This is a stamp you often find misdescribed on so-called bargain auction sites. You really should consult an accountable dealer prior to any purchase. The error is generally made when the seller compares A & C along side each other. They are slightly different, so it is an easy (and profitable) assumption to make that A must be White paper. Of course if you have a real C to compare against, coupled with regular experience in handling the stamps you can distinguish with confidence.
The price differential comes about due to the White papers relative scarcity. There were four printings of the issue with around 10 million stamps in total put into circulation. It was the 4th printing in 1964 that was made on the White paper with some 1.6 million stamps issued. It is the same White paper that was used to produce the White paper 10/- & £1 Navigators.
Make-up use for higher telegram, parcel, airmail and bulk postage charges.
MUH (Cream) - $15
MLH (Cream) - $10
FU (Cream) - $2
MUH (White) - $125
MLH (White) - $90
FU (White) - $12
1963-66 Navigator Series
These attractive high value definitive stamps were designed by the late Sydney commercial artist Walter Jardine and depict the early explorers to the Australian shores. The design was extremely popular and was adapted for decimal currency usage.
As previously noted the 10/- & £1 Navigators were issued in cream paper and the same white paper as the 5/- Cattle. Most albums have spaces for the paper varieties and they can be tricky to get right. Fortunately there isn’t a great price differential between the papers, but nonetheless to complete your collection properly you need the correct stamps. Seek expert help if you are unsure.
The full set of pre-decimal Navigators. The 10/- Flinders and
£1 Bass come in both cream and white papers.
A block (12) £1 Bass stamps. Possibly parcel usage. Large used multiples are
difficult to find like this and demand may increase for this type of material.
4/- Tasman – Parcel (scale 4) rate.
5/- Dampier, 7/6d Cook, 10/- Flinders, £1 Bass, £2 King all were: make-up use for higher telegram, parcel, airmail and bulk postage charges.
MUH - $275
MLH - $150
FU - $150
Whilst the prices for more general stamps of this period have been solid, there has not been the strength in the market place as witnessed for the earlier material. Given the massive number of definitive stamps on issue, it is difficult to see that situation changing much in our lifetimes.
In my view the best opportunities for the period lay in the sphere of postal history. The strong interest in this area of philately has mostly been reflected in the strong demand for earlier Commonwealth covers. I believe it to be only a matter of time before significantly more collectors move into the QEII period. History tells us that the shrewd postal history collector targets covers that show correct postal usage for the period of issue for the stamp(s) involved. They particularly seek out clean undamaged covers that are unusual and interesting i.e. destinations, routes, postal authority directional markings and the like. Only time will tell, but it may be interesting to look back on this in twenty years time.
End of the series
Well that concludes our introductory series of articles of the Australian Commonwealth period. We’ve covered the Kangaroos, KGV Heads, and the General Issues of the KGV, KGVI and QEII (pre-dec) periods. I hope you’ve enjoyed them and found them beneficial.