Unusual Australian stamps could bring record auction prices

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 27th August, 2018

An 1888 New South Wales centennial stamp issue featured on the catalogue front cover is the highlight of Abacus Auctions forthcoming Stamp, Postal History & Picture Postcards auction from noon Saturday September 1 at 19A Hampshire Road, Glen Waverley.

The issue is part of the Nova Castrian (the nom-de-plume for a low-profile collector collecting for almost 60 years who has now decided to sell) stamp collection – covering New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland examples – that comprises about half the auction items.

Abacus Auctions Gary Watson, one of Australia’s leading philatelic auction experts, said he had sold the centennial issue twice before – once in 2002 and again in 2008 for $12,075 and expects the stamps to attract an even greater price this time.

“There are a couple of other lots where the sale price could surprise – even though the catalogue estimates are quite modest,” he said.

One is lot 75, where eight two pound notes are part of a cover for payment of 17 pound 10 shillings bulk postage or telephone account (estimate $1000).

Watson said he could not recall seeing such a large block of two pound stamps before, even off-cover.

Another is lot 20 (also carrying a modest $1000 estimate) – a first day cover of the halfpenny kangaroo stamp, an important recent discovery and dated Brunswick 13 January 1913.

The earliest recorded usage of the halfpenny kangaroo stamp was on a postcard to the USA, cancelled 14 January 1913, and this is only the second to be discovered.

Watson said the only other first day cover he had handled in 2004 sold for $16,000.

Two 1884-1900 Victorian 100-pound stamps (lot 575) are an unusual auction highlight. These were the highest denomination stamps ever printed in the British Empire (including Great Britain) and while valid for postage were more than was ever needed for any postal transaction.

A 1900 Boer War charity plate proof in violet (lot 423) is another interesting item. Pat of the money raised from this was donated at the time to charity for returned servicemen.

Postcards comprise an important part of the auction with lot 190 featuring 80 cards commemorating the 1908 visit of the United States fleet to Sydney.

A crowd of 200,000 people – the largest ever seen to that date and more than Sydney’s population at the time – greeted the fleet on its arrival in Sydney Harbour.

A date stamp from Axe Creek telegraph office in Victoria on an envelope (lot 678) is another unusual find.

This date stamp meant for use only on telegrams was sometimes used to adorn envelopes and postcards, probably because of the telegraph office’s remote location.


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