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WILLIAM REEVE RUNDELL, DISTINGUISHED AUSTRALIAN PHILATELIST

The self-addressed cover had a rose 1d ‘Postage’ 1901 Die 1stamp of Victoria cancelled with a P.P./ MELBOURNE/ JA 29/01, as well as another strike of the Parcel Post postmark, and it was addressed to Mr W.R. Rundell, G.P.O., Melbourne, 29/1/01, a Rundell First Day Cover, stated to be unique. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The c. 1873 crude essay for a proposed 1/- adhesive telegraph stamp, being an 1870 De La Rue 2d mauve endorsed ‘Telegraph / one shilling’, probably unique ex Rundell, with his note "Proposed Stamp/ for Telegrams" on the glassine envelope in which it was found among his papers (Figure 2).

 

William Reeve Rundell was born at Deptford England on July 10 1848 and he arrived at Melbourne at the age of eight. Unlike most philatelists, Rundell probably did not collect stamps in his youth. He developed an interest in philately much later in life under interesting circumstances. On January 10, 1871 he joined the Victorian Postal Department. In 1878 he was appointed to the Correspondence Branch of the Melbourne GPO and he remained there until his retirement in 1908. From 1887, he was Officer-in-Charge of the Branch. Rundell met David Hill, a Treasury official and philatelist, who had received permission to examine records relating to Victorian stamp production. Rundell became interested in Hill’s work and before long Rundell became a philatelist himself.

Rundell and Hill were among a group of 21 philatelists who met in Melbourne on August 10, 1892 to form the Philatelic Society of Victoria (PSV, later the RPSV). His philatelic interests embraced Australasian colonies and at the April 1893 meeting he showed New Zealand, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. In May 1894 Rundell secured the Deputy Postmaster-General’s permission to show the latest new issues received from the Universal Postal Union at Society meetings. In June 1902 he showed the Society his "most elaborate collection of Sydney Views and early Victorians on cover". This was unusual as most philatelists eschewed covers as too bulky and preferred to collect stamps off cover.

The following month, Rundell wrote to The Australian Philatelist describing his posting a new stamp on a cover to himself, a first day cover, examples of which exist to-day of nearly all of Victoria’s 1901 series of stamps, as first day covers. Rundell’s interest in postal history is also evident by a paper he presented to the PSV in April 1915: ‘Were the Sydney Views with Victorian postmarks the first stamps issued in Melbourne?’ His fine articles appeared in the Australian Philatelic Record between 1927 and 1930, when the journal ceased to exist. The articles began again in the Australian Stamp Journal in 1934 and continued to 1938, two years after Rundell’s death.

Rundell spent 4 years living in England during the First World War. In 1915 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society, London. He returned to Australia, but ceased to play an active role in the PSV as he lived in Sydney from around this time. The Society awarded him Honorary Life Membership in 1924. He had served as its President on four occasions. A greater honour for Rundell was an invitation to sign th Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1924, the third Australian to sign, the first 2 were A.F. Basset Hull and David Hill, who were inaugural signatories when the Roll was established in 1921. Rundell died at Canterbury, NSW in January 1936 at the age of 87. The most important legacy left by Rundell is the enormous archive of notes that he had compiled over many years of information he had extracted from the Post Office’s records. A picture of William Reeve Rundell (1848-1936) is seen in Figure 3.

I am indebted to Richard Breckon who sent me a copy of his paper on William Rundell which he published in Australasian STAMPS April 1998, pages 70, 72. Richard Breckon was most magnanimous in his accompanying letter about my use of his paper, from which I have extracted the above paper.

 
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