Royal Reels: Gambling


My personal collection of 24 of the 48 Reprint stamps of Victoria shown are in black italics, and I point out that the brown TWO PENCE Half-Length stamp shows the defaced die (with vertical scratches) which was done purposely after the die was damaged. All have the Reprint placed horizontally, except for the pink half pence where it reads vertically upwards for obvious reasons (Figures 1-3).

Geoff Kellow in The Stamps of Victoria (1990) pp. 329-332 describes the 1891, which has been summarised as follows: “These are a remarkable episode in the philatelic history of Victoria, involving the reprinting of 48 obsolete stamps, with 37 of them requiring the preparation of new printing plates or stones. There had been a suggestion as early as 8 December 1885 by the Postmaster-General to the Government Printer that obsolete stamps be reprinted for the purpose of exchange with overseas postal administrations. The Government printer balked at the idea and on being pressed eventually replied that most if not all of the old dies had been destroyed. In fact, whilst most of the plates had been destroyed, the original dies survived.”

“The matter rested until June 1890 when further requests from London for obsolete stamps were made. This, and the further demands that would result from impending membership of the Universal Postal Union (which for all the Australian Colonies came about on 1 October 1891) resulted finally in specific instructions being given to the Government Printer on 16 July 1890 for the reprinting of obsolete issues, including the manufacture of new plates for the purpose where necessary. Such instructions were easily given, but it is unlikely the Postmaster-General had any idea of the work (or cost) involved. Archival records of the production of these reprints are available, but the method of recording is often ambiguous (the designs of the stamps of similar denomination not being identified), and their analysis is difficult. All the new plates (and printing stones) had been completed by 18 June 1891.”

“All printings were made on V over Crown (V2) watermarked paper, with the exception of yellow (1885 1/- Naish Stamp Duty, 5/-, £1 Stamp Statute) and pink (9d Bell, 10/- Stamp Statute papers), which had the V1 watermark.” The layout of the papers are also given, and there werestamps printed with both upright and inverted watermarks.

“Perforation was by the comb perf. 12½ machines for normal-size stamps, and line-perf for larger sizes. The exceptions are the one penny and 6d Queen-on-Throne which were left imperforate….the sheets were gummed….. “There were 48 different stamps printed …. The intention was clearly to reprint all different designs obsolete as of 1890.” ….. ” A number of stamps could not be reprinted” ….. and more than a page is devoted to a complete listing.

For those who do not have Kellow’s book, there are short entries in the Stanley Gibbons Australia Concise Stamp Catalogue 1991 Edition, pages 37, 40, 44, 45, 48, the latter entry not listed by Kellow, and page 54.

Kellow admits that the specimen stamps of Victoria are rare and that multiple different types of ‘Specimen’ were used. I can highly recommend Les Molnar’s collection at his superb website to gain an overview of his 22 different types. His short introduction to these is as follows: “SPECIMEN overprints were first used within the post office to officially remove stamps from inventory, in order to use them for various archival purposes. As with many things in Victoria, the field is large and complex and filled with many rarities.

SPECIMEN Stamps occasionally got into public hands as a result of the retirement of a postal official. It was the practice to present obsolete Specimen sets to retirees as a record of their work and these few examples often later found their way into the philatelic markets.

Collector sets overprinted SPECIMEN were issued to the public from September 1900 until July 1902 containing the stamps currently on issue at that time. Specimens from these collector sets are scarce, but not nearly as rare as earlier examples.”

I have in my personal collection 3 complete sets of N.S.W. stamps that have a Specimen overprint, the first being the postage dues set of 10 issued on 1 January 1891 in values of ½d, 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d, 6d, 8d, 5 shillings, 10 shillings and 20 shillings, as shown in Figure 4.

The second set is the 1902 converted N.S.W. plates, which was issued as a set of 10 (the first issue of Australia, which was formed in 1901)with values of ½d, 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d, 6d, 8d and 5 shillings, (available in all states, except Victoria); the 5 shillings value was not issued with the Specimen overprint, and the 9 stamps are seen in Figure 5.

The third set of stamps with the Specimen overprint is also derived from the design of N.S.W. Dues, and is known as the 1902-1904 Design Completed, Watermark Crown Over N.S.W. This consists of 14 values from ½d to 20 shillings which have a horizontally placed SPECIMEN, but the number of distinct stamps is increased to 17, for the 1d, 2d and 5d also have the vertically placed overprint, which was applied only in Tasmania. These stamps were available for use in all States, but Victoria had different Dues stamps. The 17 stamps are seen in Figure 6.

A siting of a scan on Ebay of a faint overprint of ‘Ultramar’ (Over Seas) on an unique blue Two Pence Western Australian Letter Card intrigued me. The vendor had placed a price of USD 1,200 on it, and he gave the following account: “From the Archives of the Goa (Portuguese India ) Postal Administration. The item listed above is from the original Postal archive distributed by the UPU to its member nations for the period of from approx. 1899 thru to 1942. Receiving Authority specimens are of Philatelic importance as they provide confirmatory evidence that these were in fact distributed by the UPU. The best known Receiving authority specimen is the ‘ULTRAMAR’ handstamp applied either in violet or in blue to UPU distributions sent to th Portuguese Ministry for the colonies during the period 1895-1910 and all those distributed were applied with protective markings. The earliest issues are handstamped “ULTRAMAR. In 1925 (they were) handstamped as COLONIAS in 1927-31, and as ESPECIMEN in 1932-39 and 1939-42 as AMOSTRA. The ULTRAMAR postcard is seen in Figure 7.

Examples of ULTRAMAR overprints are shown for Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, respectively in Figures 8,9 & 10.

This red 2d Western Australia postcard has the rare COLONIAS handstamp from the archives of the Goa (Portuguese India) Postal Administration.  The earliest overprint was ULTRAMAR , AND IN 1925 they were handstamped COLONIAS.

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