Qantas centenary celebrated with an auction aviation letter

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 15th June, 2021

There are no doubt plenty of ways Australia’s national airline Qantas could celebrate the centenary of its establishment as a commercial enterprise this year.

For Melbourne-based Leski Auctions, its forthcoming Stamp, Coin & Postal History 738-lot auction pays tribute to the anniversary with a rare example (lot 278) of the mail Qantas carried in 1922 on its first airmail delivery flights.

With a $7500-$10,000 catalogue estimate, this was a cover flown on the Cloncurry to Charleville route in Queensland and bearing the extremely rare “For Aerial Transmission” label.

Famous Australian pioneer aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith also is honoured and well represented in the sale through such aerophilately covers as lot 288 – one of only six collected at Fiji on the last leg of his world record flight across the Pacific in 1928 and signed by Smith and his relief pilot Charles Ulm (catalogue estimate $10,000-$15,000).

This section of the journey was the most difficult because of storms, loss of radio contact and shortage of fuel.

Lot 302, two covers carried on the Smith’s famous aircraft the Southern Cross historic short and last flight from Mascot to Richmond on July 18 1935, is another gem for collectors with a catalogue estimate of $2400-$2800.

Another famous Australian aviator Ross Smith is remembered through lot 266 – a flight cover dated November 19, 1920 posted from the ANZAC Wireless Squadron stationed in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) that he carried en route to Australia. It is the only example of noteworthy flight covers affixed with stamps from Iraq and Australia.

The auction, which will be held from 12pm Sunday June 27 at 727-729 High Street Armadale, begins with a range of coins and banknotes with very affordable estimates – particularly for first time collectors.

Subject to current COVID-19 Victorian Government restrictions being lifted in time, live viewing will be available from 10am-5pm from Monday June 21 to Saturday June 26 and from 10am-12pm Sunday June 27.

In particular, mixed lots 12-16 and 54-66, and unusual foreign gold coins (lots 74-77) are expected to attract a lot of attention from auction goers.

Australian Commonwealth stamps and postal history are particularly strong in this sale with lot 124, a July 1913 first watermark with halfpenny green and two penny grey kangaroo stamps affixed, and the extremely rare Adelaide cover to Vienna (lot 129), also with July 13 first watermark, and one penny and four penny red and orange stamps, of great note.

Classic KGV (King George V) heads always feature prominently and this sale is no exception with lots such as 137, two penny grey stamps in a ‘CA’ monogram block of six, and a Perkins Bacon die proof (lot 165) typical of the offerings.

The magnificent Bernie Beston collection of Queensland Postal stationery (lots 323-469) is another strong auction attraction. Well-known to philatelists the world over, Beston has provided informative write ups for his collection and a good example is lot 323, an 1880 Queensland unissued black reply postal card with halfpenny stamp designed by William Bell included – which carries a catalogue estimate of $6000-$8000.

The auction also contains a range of albums and boxes and interesting collections from individual countries which will benefit from the opportunity for auction goers to view live.

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