Australia is a continent, an island and a big country — roughly the same size as the United States excluding Alaska — but its population of 23.3 million is slightly less than that of Texas.
Australia’s history is likewise similar to the United States. Australia’s six original British colonies federated into the Commonwealth of Australia Jan. 1, 1901. The former colonies became states. Sound familiar?
The Commonwealth of Australia issued its first postage stamps in 1913. These typographed issues depict an outline map of Australia in the background and Australia’s signature fauna, a kangaroo, in the foreground.
The ½-penny green stamp in this series (Scott 1) is shown in Figure 1.
This kangaroo and map design was in use for a long time, from its original issue in 1913 to a redrawn 2-shilling denomination issued in 1945.
Thereafter, the kangaroo and map design reappeared on stamps intermittently.
In 1984 it was featured on a 30¢ stamp issued for the Ausipex World Stamp Exhibition (Scott 925), shown in Figure 2.
In 2004 a block of £2 Kangaroo and Map stamps was shown on a large $5 stamp (Scott 2284), which is pictured in Figure 3.
And in 2013 a $10 Kangaroo and Map stamp was issued at World Stamp Expo in Melbourne, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the original issue (Scott 3919).
To say the Kangaroo and Map stamps are popular is an understatement.
Forming a complete collection of all the Kangaroo and Map stamps and their varieties of watermarks, paper types, perforations gauges, color shades, perfins, overprints, printing varieties and so on can be an expensive pursuit.
However, narrowing the field gives any collector a chance to develop an affordable classic Australian Kangaroo and Map collection.
The key to maximizing the enjoyment of collecting is to discover a method of limiting the collection in a way that satisfies and enhances your personal interest in the subject.
If both economy and completion are your goals, then a quick glance at the Australia listings in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue will inform you that the 1913 1d carmine shown in Figure 4 (Scott 2) is a good, affordable stamp.
Making it even better, the 1d Kangaroo and Map was replaced by the 1d King George V stamp (Scott 17) in July 1914, so those first stamps, printed by J.B. Cooke on “wide crown and wide A” watermarked paper, were in service for just a year and a half, making them a perfect choice for completing a classic collection of a single stamp on a tight budget.
Now here is where it gets really interesting.
If you just collect postally used examples of the stamp, then you might attempt to find postmarked stamps that represent each month in which the stamp was used.
Another choice is to find different types of cancels, such as the numeral cancel shown in Figure 5. You could collect stamps that bear postmarks from each of the Australian states, too.
For those who like to delve into printing varieties, a number of them are explained and illustrated in the Brusden-White Australian Commonwealth Specialists’ Catalogue.
These varieties can be more difficult to spot, but once you find one or two of them it makes you feel like you have just discovered gold.
Remember that these are common, inexpensive stamps, but they are still worth close inspection.
A good starting place is the Scott catalog listings for Die I and Die II stamps.
Scott explains Die I as “the inside frameline has a break at the left, even with the top of the letters of the denomination. An example of this is shown at top in Figure 6. The catalog describes Die II as “The frameline does not show a break,” which is pictured at the bottom of Figure 6.
You will need a magnifying glass to check for these differences, but once you catch on, you will be able to spot other differences more quickly.
Beginning any new collection does not have to be intimidating or fearfully expensive. Start modestly, take little bites, dream big and don’t forget to have fun.
blogThe unique block of six unissued 2-penny King Edward VIII stamps of Australia, whose fascinating origin and provenance were detailed in Linn’s issue dated Oct. 20, 2014, around the time of the block’s sale, has been broken up. The block had lain in the Vestey family’s possession ever since it was fresh off the presses in 1936, when the 1st Baron Vestey received it as a memento from an Australian politician. Read More ›
blogAs stamp collectors, we become the stewards of postage stamps and postal history. We passionately protect our stamps and covers. We recognize that these fragile objects are ours to cherish for a brief moment in time before we pass them along to the next generation. Read More ›
blogOn June 28, 1914, by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip with the squeeze of a trigger sparked would become to be known as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars.” Read More ›
blogEleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds share ideas …,” and Linn’s is fortunate to have thoughtful leaders of the stamp hobby on its Editorial Advisory Board. Board members participated in a lively discussion of “The State of the Stamp Hobby” Aug. 21 at the American Philatelic Society Stampshow in Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Marty Frankevicz discusses the controversy in Canada over increasing postage rates, the elimination of home mail delivery and the erecting of cluster boxes.
Watch as Linn’s associate editor Michael Baadke discusses happenings at the recent APS Stampshow from the show floor.
Watch as Linn's/Scott editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the early release of the new U.S. Elvis stamp, the possibility of a Peanuts stamp and Linn's at the upcoming APS Stampshow.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.