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September 2019


Stamp Tip of The Month


Sometimes the stamp markets price things in no rational way.  I was recently processing an order for some mint Australia £1 Robes on the scarcer "Thin" ordinary paper - SG 178a.  I mused aloud to myself that I always have ten times more of the "Thick" paper in stock (SG 178) than the thin paper, despite very similar retail prices for both.  It makes absolutely no sense!

Asked around to a few other large dealers, and they all agreed - one seems about 10 times more numerous than the other.  I sell "Thin" for about $A125 in fresh well centred MUH, and NICE copies of the "Thick" for about $A100.  Of course the correct technical distinction is "Ordinary" versus "Chalk Surfaced" paper, but "Thin" and "Thick" are terms we use almost exclusively locally in the trade.

The two stamps are VERY easily picked apart visually - the "Thin" being a deeper colour, and printed FAR less crisply and sharply than was possible on the superb smooth, chalk coated "Thick" paper.  On the photo nearby, the "Thin" paper is the stamp on the bottom.  The differences in appearance are readily visible, even if you have no experience sorting these. .


Easily picked on reverse.


Looking at the reverse, the "Thin" paper shows the watermark far more clearly and sharply on both mint and used copies.  I referred to the excellent Australasian Commonwealth Specialist Catalogue ("ACSC") "KGVI" edition to see if print figures tell us anything.  I was amazed at the data in there re the numbers printed.


Worth 3 Times Today's Level?


These figures have NEVER been public or published before until recent years, as Editor Geoff Kellow keeps coming up with new data for each new ACSC edition, based on his archival research.  I spoke with Geoff Kellow, and he assures me his new research is correct, and that this tiny print run for the £1 "Thin" paper is totally accurate.  The current retail market is hence WAY out of kilter.

Only 160,000 were ever printed in just a single printing, of the £1 1949 "Thin" paper - versus 1,920,000 of the “Thick” (Chalky surfaced) issue of 1937.  My typical stock levels over the past 30 years of around ten to one, are borne out rather perfectly by the printing figures above. Remember that the 1937 issue was HEAVILY bought up mint by immediate post-war "Black Money War Profiteer" type speculators. 

Older dealers can confirm these high values traded under face wholesale for decades, until we changed to decimal currency in 1966.  Indeed many dealers swapped them face for face for the new Decimal issues, as the PO permitted such deals back then.  The 1945 Duke Of Gloucester issue was bought up nearly entirely by "Black Money" speculators for the same reason by the same folks. 


Buy £1 “THIN” paper NOW!


Even today those sets sell wholesale for under face value!  I still get offered 1000's sets in MUH sheets from relatives of these people.  The "Thin" paper £1 stamp, not being a face different stamp, did not attract much interest at all from the stamp trade in the Post War period - much less from any speculators, as the "Hot Money" was long gone by mid-1949 when these were first issued.

The proof of the fact that scant attention was paid to this paper change by collectors of the time, is that only a few FDC's of this £1 "Thin" stamp are recorded.  It is scarce - being cat in ACSC at $7,500 on FDC, although more exist than the ACSC notes.  This top value on "Thin" paper was first issued only in April 1949, and was replaced in latter 1949 by the £1 "Arms", so useage was truly minimal - just a few months. 

The FDC illustrated nearby was invoiced by Prestige Philately a decade back for $10,500.  Not bad going for a fabrication made AFTER issue date!  Similar FDC also exist in small numbers for other “impossible” issues of the time, like booklet panes, colour and watermark changes etc, that the PO never advised officially were to be issued.  Far more discussion here - and were NOT done by Hayward Parish either - 


These latter day fakes sell for $10,000+!


The few FDC of these that exist are all unregistered fabrications. They clearly were never done at issue date, but made after issue by an insider staffer at Sydney GPO with access to the much back-dated SYDNEY 130” cds, who was married to Thompson’s sister.  When you see a £1 stamp (week’s wages) on a un-registered cover (fee for that was just 3d!) you smell a rat.  On Registered mail, relevant backstamps were applied, and that cannot occur, if created weeks after issue. 

Much of their use was on telegrams, and for bulk postage payments - neither of which generally later reached the stamp market as used copies.  As if to prove that point, truly genuine dated fine USED copies of the "Thin" are nearly non-existent.  Many hinged or toned copies etc get "CTO'd" across corners even to this day, but to my mind, a lovely 1950s era dated example is worth at least TWICE as much as a MUH copy.


Genuine USED copies rare


Indeed, exactly as a superb 1930s postally used 5/- Bridge is today worth twice or treble a CTO copy, these £1 Robes "Thin" are equally scarce - in my view.  Geoff Kellow agreed with me that “in period” dated copies are quite scarce, and pointed out Rodney Perry advised he has only ever seen one or two £1 "Thin" Robes on cover or parcel piece - in 40+ years of searching. 

Rod confirmed that with me, and agreed that there should be a significant premium for correct cancel used copies, over Mint.  Perry said double the mint price was not out of line for a genuine dated contemporary cancel.  Conversely a used stamp sells for about a third of a MUH copy.  Which in my view is about correct.  In short, my "TIP OF 2019" for anyone who likes a challenge, is to tuck away a little supply of this stamp in fresh well centred MUH, or harder still, in VFU circa 1950s dated used.


Blocks most uncommon.


The current Stanley Gibbons quotes for the £1, SG 178a is £70 MUH and £75 used …. both absurdly low.  I was pricing up a superb dared cds used set in blocks recently, and it occurred to me this is the ONLY set of used blocks of the thin paper I’ve ever handled. Not surprising really - it was near a MONTH’S wages for a working man!

£7 was an absolute fortune at that time. Several weeks wages for a normal worker. The AVERAGE annual UK wage in UK 1950, was just £100 - I kid you not - - around TWO quid a week gross before tax.  FACT.  (And paid annual leave was typically just ONE week!) That is the average national wage, not the minimum wage.  Ozzie wages were near identical then.

This BBC link outlining the Food Rationing in the UK well after WW2, might also surprise some - - National rationing did not totally end until 1954.  Indeed, meat, bacon, sugar, and butter were all tightly rationed across the UK, right up to the QE2 Coronation year in 1953. 


 Avoid ebay sellers.


One wise word when purchasing “Thin” paper Robes issues - buy from REPUTABLE and experienced dealers only.  Some of the cowboys on places like ebay delight in mis-describing "Thick" paper copies as "Thin", and pocketing treble what they should.  Sadly the vast army of clueless ebay Bunny Buyers as always, hoover up the fiction, and grab the “EBaayaarghins”.  Do not join them! is a detailed discussion with many images, on how to accurately sort Thick from Thin paper in this VERY tricky issue.  Please do not ask ME for bulk stock of either, as I have almost no stocks.  This is not an ad, but a genuine tip for readers about a wildly under-rated stamp.  The market price for the MUH "Thin" really should be at least DOUBLE the "Thick", i.e. at about the $A200-300 level for nice copies.


This worth 30 times Robes?


Let's be sensible about price levels - the 1935 £1 Grey "CofA" Kangaroo (SG 137) that preceded this Robes stamp sells for $4,000 in MUH – the stamp shown nearby I mailed to a client this month.  ACSC value is $A5,000.  Even so, it is rather plentiful, and 600,000 were printed.  Yet it is valued THIRTY times more than a MUH £1 Robes of the same year???   Quite absurd.

Used copies of the £1 CofA Kangaroo are still pretty plentiful, and yet a nice VFU one is now getting around the $500 mark these days. There is no reason in my mind that a "Thin" paper genuine FU £1 Robes should not be a similar price, as it certainly is many times scarcer.  At bare MINIMUM they should be $A200 with cancels circa 1950s, so snap up any you see at today’s silly low prices.


“Stamp Collecting is a Great, Great, Great hobby”.


Warren Buffett is recognised as the smartest living investor, and many books and detailed articles have been written dissecting and studying his successful, logical and very conservative approach to investing, spanning a half century.  The share price of his main company Berkshire Hathaway was $US303,000 or $A450,000 per single share as I typed this.  Buffett apparently owns endless millions of shares - do the math!

He still lives in the modest Omaha home he bought 61 years back.  Buffet’s estimated net worth today is “only” about $US75 Billion, but he has given away $US35 Billion in recent years.  Buffett has indeed promised to give away over 99% of his fortune.  In 2019 so far he has donated $3.6 billion, much of it to the Foundation of friends Bill and Melinda Gates, who also donate much of their immense fortune.


Warren Buffett at Abacus Auctions stand.


Berkshire Hathaway has averaged an annual growth in book value of 19.0% to its shareholders since 1965 - compared to just 9.7% from the S&P 500 Index with dividends included for the same period.  Berkshire oddly pays no dividends, and yet Buffett is paid only $US100,000 a year, and insists on paying his own postage and phone bills out of that pittance pay.

So clearly much is publicly known of Warren Buffett the mega successful investor, but few realise he ran a postage stamp approvals company when younger, and took ads in the mass circulation “Linns Stamp News” selling his approval selections.  He still has his stamp and FDC collection at his home he confirmed this month in the interview below.

Buffett attended the recent APS National Stampshow at Omaha Nebraska, due to his long held interest in philately, and the photo nearby shows him being interviewed by the APS roving reporter there, and as can be seen, this was all taking place in front of the Abacus Stamp Auctions stand, the well-known business based in Melbourne Australia.

Stamp collectors can even buy a set of 41¢ postally valid American stamps, depicting Warren Buffett, and his lifelong business sidekick, and Berkshire Vice President, Charlie Munger - the two stamps are shown nearby.  The two famously hold court centre stage at the annual Berkshire Hathaway downbeat and very folksy shareholder meetings - that for decades have been investor Pilgrimages!


You can buy Warren Buffett USA stamps. is the stampboards discussion on this recent interview, with transcripts of his comments on stamp collecting.  Warren Buffett did say - “Stamp Collecting is a Great, Great, Great hobby”.   As Rod Perry posts on there, such an endorsement should really be used widely by the hobby.  When Warren Buffet endorses anything so enthusiastically, it is well worth repeating, and I do so here!


Warren Buffet makes bad stamp investment.


Even the savvy business skills of Warren Buffet does not mean even he has always picked winners in life.  Buffet in his younger days decided he would try and corner the market in a current USA 1954 4¢ Airmail postage stamp, in the hope of rich rewards - and proverbially lost his shirt!  A true story that makes for interesting reading.

In 1959, Benjamin Graham was scheduled to speak at Beloit College about valuing individual common stock investments and bonds.
Buffett wanted to see Graham speak in person, and so he called his friend Tom Knapp who worked at the Tweedy, Browne brokerage house that served as Graham’s broker.

Buffett convinced Knapp to go with him, and on the drive from Nebraska to Wisconsin, Knapp speculated that the current USA 4¢ Airmail stamp “The Blue Eagle” was soon going to be taken out of circulation, and would one day become a valuable collector’s item. 

Buffett was convinced the 4¢ Eagles could someday be worth tens of dollars each adjusted for inflation, paving the way for a possible 1,000% to 3,000% nominal gain, which would create true investment gains of 700% to 2,500% after adjusting for the expected opportunity cost, and inflation - and waiting for the market to develop.

After they saw Graham speak,
Buffett and Knapp decided they would stop at all Post Offices on the way back to Omaha, and effectively “corner” the stamp market on these 4¢ Blue Eagle stamps. The biggest haul came in Denver, where they purchased a 200,000 stamp supply for $US8,000 face value.


Warren Buffet lost his shirt on these.


That is the equivalent of about $US55,000 in today’s dollars.  In total, they bought almost 400,000 of the 4¢ stamps for around $16,000, making a stamp investment worth somewhere around $US100,000, when converted into today’s dollars.

As the years went by,
Buffett found himself encountering one tiny problem - the stamps never became a scarce collector’s item!  No one especially wanted the 4¢ Blue Eagle stamps.  The pair had cornered the market they thought, gave the stamps years to mature in value, but the Boom in price never happened.

Eventually, in 1982, 23 years later,
Buffett sold his stamps at a 10% discount under face, to a dealer who was active in supplying under face postage.  Knapp held on to his share of the Blue Eagles, ironically using 4¢ stamps in combination as rates rose, as postage for the rest of his life.

Buffett was wise to cut his losses in 1982 - the stamps still sell for pennies retail even today.  He sold his $8,000 investment in 1959, for just $7,200 in 1982, which was truly a $4,000 actual loss when adjusting for inflation - a pretty severe beating on a $4000 initial investment. 

That loss from the stamp investment had a clear influence on Warren
Buffett’s approach to investing thereafter.  You never hear about him buying art, or ancient artefacts or other collectibles, a market that has helped create a lot of wealth for those that accurately predicted America’s cultural trends regarding art.

Mark Twain said that once a cat sits on a hot stove, it will never again sit on either a hot stove, or a cold stove.  Likewise, Warren
Buffett has never returned to the arena of collectible investing, after his ill-fated 1954 4¢ Blue Eagle foray into new issue stamp speculation.


6 Metre Stamp Highway sign in Sydney


We seldom see 6 metre long stamp designs on public roads, but visitors to the huge Bunnings hardware store complex at Rydalmere in Sydney have been able to see this huge roadside sign as they visited.  These huge montages have been in place for about 5 years now, and millions of non-stamp collectors have seen them, in this busy suburban area.

This visual public artwork called “Memory Fragments” commemorates part of the history of Australia Post.  The sculpture was commissioned to comply with local Council policy, which mandates new property development invests in public artworks. 

Director of the site Ross Shepherd was commissioned to develop art concepts based on historical themes and forms.  The postage stamp hoardings reference the establishment of the first Merino sheep farms located on lands adjoining the site, with these well-known classic Australia Post stamps.

Captain John Macarthur, who arrived with the Second Fleet in 1789, is credited with establishing the fine Merino wool industry in Australia, that when mature, largely supported this country’s economy.  Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, famously said in the 1950s our prosperity “rode on the sheep’s back”.   Macarthur’s first property “Elizabeth Farm” was established in 1793 on the Parramatta River, near where Harris Park is today.  Macarthur died in 1834, and the popular 3 stamp set commemorating his death is well known to all collectors of Australian stamps.


2d Macarthur stamp on roadside.

  “The form of vertical blades at varying intervals along the roadway shows slices of the stamp image separated, while a composite single image of the stamp can be viewed from certain angles,”  Shepherd explained. “This dynamic visual effect gives distinctive contemporary expression to the history of Australia Post at this site 50 years ago. The flickering effect of many passing stamps on envelopes would have created a striking impact on the 1,000 workers who sorted the mail here during the peak of its operation.”

Seven huge 5 metre vertical blades make up the massive display, with two different stamp designs on each side, and a total of 14 metal strips fabricated in the build.  Each metal strip is made of structural steel that adjoins composite panels to keep the blades safe, to withstand wind, and other weather conditions.  The overall structure is held up by concrete foundations that are set into the landscape strip on the footpath. The design, engineering and construction of the art piece was carried out by Kennovations.

South Australia “Departmental” stamps.


The South Australia “Departmental” stamps have a keen following.  These 2 or 3 letter department overprints on otherwise common stamps often get 4 figures.  I have been urging SG to price them for years, and the Editor really wants to, and asks me to get the keen collectors to guide him, but they never do, so “Catch 22” sadly, but the demand stays strong.

Abacus offered a nice range mid-year from the Murray Sherry (“Tamiami”) collection, and some very bullish prices resulted, despite all the lots being “T” Lots, where 10% Tax is added to hammer price, BEFORE the very juicy auctioneer “Buyer Fee” is then whacked on top of that.  One that took my eye is shown nearby, and had a pre-sale estimate of only $2,500.


Estimate $2,500 - invoiced $30,000.


SURVEYOR-GENERAL - Black “S.G.” on DeLaRue Crown SA watermark, rouletted 2d orange horizontal pair, the right-hand unit being the “S.C.” Error - resulting in a “S.G. - S.C.” se-tenant pair, as you can see, with a neat Adelaide GPO cds of OC - 7 - 69.

There is of course a separate “SC” overprint, so a single would be impossible to pinpoint, but leading specialist on these stamps, Tony Presgrave, has advised that the Supreme Court “S.C.” on the same DLR 2d was not issued until 1873, so this pair with an 1869 postmark must be a setting error.


These not for the centering fanatics!


Anyway, despite the pretty silly low $2,500 estimate, it was finally invoiced for around $A30,000 and clearly there was very keen bidding on it.  Centering purists will be horrified!  The American Grading Numbah Voodoo Cultists would grade this maybe 50 out of 100, and I am sure would never be interested, as these are not 98 or 99 graded.




Another to do well was the MAIN ROADS, GAMBIERTON, Black “M.R.G.” overprint on DLR Crown/SA Rouletted 2d orange, with - 'GAMBIERTON/ JY29/70/S.A' cds.  Believed to be Ex Manus (1920s) and Houston Wynn.  Estimate $3000, it was invoiced after all the taxes and fees were added, for about $13,000. is the 100s of post long discussion on these South Australia “Departmental” stamps, and highlights many of scarce ones, and shows many of the recent fakes that ebay is now awash with of course. The Sydney Forger is cranking these out like crazy, and the Ebay Bunnies are buying them with glee.

The IQ level of many ebay buyers does not reach double digits in many cases as we all know, but for those that do pass that low bar, simply google the seller name of the “EBARHHGEENS” and more often than not you will find match #1 is to Stampboards, where their current fakes are being exposed and discussed.  Buyer Beware.


American Stamp Grading Madness


The Americans often take Wacko Pills over their GRAYDEENG NUMBAHS, and pretty common stamps worth dollars to the rest of the sane stamp world, sell for $50,000 or so, to the tiny handful of cultists who cannot see this is all a Ponzi scheme type FAD, that like all fads will crash and burn.


“Perfect Centering = $50,000”.  Voodoo Science. is a recent discussion where a US GRAYDEENG company PSE, shows a “Perfect 100J” centred 4¢ stamp they were drooling over.  As stampboards members clearly showed via precise diagrams, the stamp was not “perfect” centred at all - not even close.  Some American paid near $A50,000 at Siegel Auctions for a stamp cat $170, that I’d gladly sell for $100.

Two corners are about to fall off as is obvious to all, and if is not perfect centred, but hey the PSE Voodoo GRAYDOUGHMEETAAH says “100J” (impossible to improve on allegedly!) and the rich Texans come flocking like lemmings trusting this nonsense. They should read stampboards and save their $50,000!


Let the March of the Lemmings begin!


It is all a giant Ponzi type scheme in my view, and millions will be lost as prices fall and fall.  Exceedingly common USA stamps worth less than face value in the real word, these Numbah Cultists madly pay 4 figures for, as shown in that discussion.

Folks can spend their money how they choose of course.  Build collections of pet rocks, or Hula Hoops, or Beanie Babies etc.  But when the music stops, you own a box of hyped up material that no-one else will buy for anything like what YOU paid.  You can buy 20 or 30 fresh mint sets of 3 USA Zeppelins for that money, that WILL always be saleable







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