Royal Reels: Gambling


The first cover I suspect may have been philatelically contrived by the unidentified sender. It is addressed to Mr. Walter George Rendall, Artist, Goulburn and Goulburn is crossed out probably by the sender and G. P.O., Sydney has been added. A vertically joined pair of two partial blue Two Pence 100 Years of N.S.W. stamps have been cancelled with a SYDNEY/ JU 15/ 6 30 P.M/ 91/ 27, N.S.W duplex, and a manuscript ‘2d’ has been added probably by the sender. An indistinctly cancelled 2d green N.S.W. postage due has been added, and it is difficult to confirm with certainty that the postmark ‘ties’ the due to the envelope (Figure 1).

The letter did go to Goulburn as confirmed by the duplex GOULBURN/ JU 16/ 3-AM/ 91 N.S.W with the numeral ‘35′ enclosed in a three-ring oval (Type D4). One has to wonder whether such a configuration would get through without being taxed. (Figure 2).

The next cover was definitely philatelically contrived and the cover was not taxed on account of the bisected stamp. It was addressed to a Mr W.E. Thomas , c/o Basil Turner Esq, Point Rd, Woolwich and the two penny postage was made up with a dark brown 1½d KGV head and a diagonally cut red 1d KGV head. There were three cancels of WOOLWICH/ 23 OC 25/ N.S.W, Type 2A postmark. The reverse was not seen (Figure 3).

Another fine example of a bisect cover looks philatelically contrived and has a green 1d KGV head stamp, the red 1½d Sturt Explorer Centenary stamp and a bisected green 1d KGV head stamp to make up the 3d postal rate. The stamps were postmarked SYDNEY/ 15 OC 36/ 84, and addressed to Evan T. Jones Esq., Expert Philatelist , C/- Majestic Hotel, King William St, Adelaide, South Australia (Figure 4).

This cover shows a more frequently found problem, although it is not commonly found on cover. The machines which delivered coil stamps at Sydney G.P.O. not infrequently fed out stamps incompletely so that the stamp could not be pulled out along the perforation. This is shown with the use of the green 2d Queen Elizabeth coil stamp. This cover was used at Albury N.S.W. (Figure 5).

Three more examples of these ragged coils, the two separate used ½d orange ‘Roo’ off-cover coil stamps are shown, showing the zig-zag edge, where they were torn off on the teeth of the coil machine in the incorrect place, as well as an used purple 2d KGVI stamp (Figure 6).

The following type of cover has long intrigued me for in addition to the green ½d Great Britain stamp (canceled withW.C.1. in a triangle), there are two AUSTRALIA/ CUSTOMS DUTY / LONDON stamps of the ½d and 1d values. The cover is addressed to Messrs A.G. Kidson & Co, 127 York Street, Sydney. The following description of the rationale behind the use of these Customs Duty stamps is as follows: Upon the formation of the Commonwealth, a Tariff Act was passed in 1902 levying a duty on printed circulars, prices lists and advertising matter imported into Australia. However, so that the traders could send their lists and catalogues to Australia without the addressees having to pay duty, the Australian High Commissioner in London had a series of stamps prepared which could be purchased by the senders of printed matter, and affixed to wrappers or envelopes besides the postage stamps in payment of the tax (Figure 7).

There was a great diversity of the different values available from the early 1900s up until at least the introduction of Australian decimal currency in 1966, with a low of ¼d, ½d and ¾d to at least 6d. The stamps were first overprinted to denote decimal currency until a new decimal printing was introduced. The pale blue ¼d was postmarked CUSTOMS DUTY/ PAID, others were date stamped or roller cancelled.

This 1918 cover was used at Sydney and incorrectly franked with a N.S.W red 1d Stamp Duty tied by a machine cancel and no postage due was levied (Figure 8).

This cover has a strip of seven half-penny roos coil stamps on it and it has six examples (all very neat, but unfortunately faintly struck) of T.P.O.1. SOUTH 25 OC 55 DN/ 2/ N.S.W-AUST postmarks on a cover containing printed matter posted to Philadelphia Pennsylvania (Figures 9 & 10).

Another point of interest (other than I have never seen a longer coil strip on a regular size cover) is that this T.P.O. is a variant of that shown in Richard Peck’s N.S.W. TRAVELLING POST OFFICES 1870-1985 (2000) where the designation UP and DN are placed immediately before the date, and not after as in this cover.

I am indebted to Allan Gory for the data on the introduction of the revenue stamps and their usage.


Yet another bisect , but in more modern times. The 22 cent White Tailed Kingfisher stamp issued on 31 March 1980 has been bisected and the 11 cents was added to the 22 cents Q.E. stamp to make the correct 33 cents postage rate for this cover posted on 25 November 1985 at Cowes, Victoria. Someone was asleep at the office! (Figure 11).

I hope I am not belaboring the point with too many ‘Australia Customs Duty London’ stamps and covers, but the next cover has interest. It was mailed at Hamburg on 25 4 36 with a DEUTSCHES REICH 25 rubber stamping by the German firm, A. Hartrodt. The blue & black 1/4d and brown & red 1/2d Customs stamps were franked with the company’s name in an oval. I presume that the cover travelled via London or more likely the company had these Customs stamps on hand in Hamburg (Figure 12) .

This cover is unique in my experience for all 26 stamps are present as blocks of coil stamps, a block of 8 of the unwatermarked orange roo stamps and two blocks, one of 8 and one of 6 of the unwatermarked green QE II stamp. It is addressed to Dr. Lowell Ragatz an expert in fakes, forgeries and bogus stamps, as well as a professor of American history. For more discussion of Ragatz, see under ‘Philatelist’. (Figure 13).

A fine registered cover from a stamp dealer Norman J. Piper in Cassilis, NSW was sent in September 1941 to a stamp collector A.J. Stefun, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. It was clearly marked as containing stamps of value 2 pounds, with markings that it was sent approved by the Collector of Customs. However the front was marked LETTER PACKAGE/ COLLECT 10 CENTS by the US Customs, and the reverse is of interest in that, in lieu of a postage due stamp,a 10 cents John Tyler postage stamp (10th President) was applied at LEWISBURG/ OCT 16/ 1941/ REGISTERED (Figure 14).

This follows on from the original paper with the same Title of Australian Postal Curiosities. During World War 2, the Allies printed enormous amounts of propaganda, most of which was dropped over the Axis enemy lines. In addition, private individuals printed ‘Patriotic labels’ which could be placed on mailed covers.

I have in the past month seen 2 covers bearing such labels, and realised that in 70 years of collecting stamps and covers of Australia, I had never seen such examples on Australian mail. Both envelopes were sent to 2 different individuals. both living in the USA, but the example shown is different from the other in that there were 2 copies of a red boxed RETURN TO SENDER/ CONTENTS/ UNDELIVERABLE on the front of the cover, not shown.

The reverse showed 2 examples of these labels, and the addressor was the same for both covers. There were 2 red crayon ‘X’s, one on each side of the sender’s name. I could not find tinformation about the sender, but there is a ‘Cona Bed & Breakfast’ listed at Port Fairy, Victoria to-day! This presumably ‘offending’ (to the postal department) propaganda was the cause for the RETURN TO SENDER notice. The reverse of this cover is seen in Figure 15. 

 No postage stamp adorns this Sydney 1894 cover which shows a stamp-size advertisment for Wolfe’s Schnapps, The Purest Stimulant in the World (Figure 16). 

 This Nov. 27, 1917 illustrated double rate cover for W.J. Deane & Son, Sydney music publishers was sent to Boulder Colorado, USA with the blue two pence halfpenny ‘Roo on map of Australia’ stamp, and it was hand-stamped ‘US CHARGE TO COLLECT 10 CENTS as well as a shield with T/ 50. Instead of postage Due stamps it had 2 green 5 cents US Parcel Post Postage Due stamps applied and it sold for AUD 1500 (Figure 17). 

Categories: Mining, Postmarks