Specimen Stamps of the Australian
The William McCredie Collection
Wednesday 22nd June 2011
"... the most comprehensive
collection of its type ever formed,
featuring some of the most prized
specimen stamps of the British Empire."
We are privileged to be offering the collection of Specimen
Stamps of the Australian Colonies formed by the late William (Bill)
McCredie. Compiled over the past twenty years and exhibited
successfully both in Australia and overseas, this is almost certainly the most
comprehensive collection of its type ever formed. It covers not only stamps
overprinted ‘Specimen’, but also all the issues distributed as specimen stamps
to U.P.U. members, as well as stamps sold in collectors’ sets.
The collections of each Colony include an example of the
Perkins, Bacon stamps with ‘CANCELLED’ obliteration which were
prepared at the instigation of Ormond Hill in 1861. Six examples of each stamp
were prepared, and presented to various colleagues, including his uncle, Rowland
Hill - hence the stamps have become known as the “Rowland Hill CANCELLED”
stamps. These are amongst the most prized specimen stamps of the British Empire,
and the McCredie collection includes examples of the New South Wales 1/-,
Queensland (6d) Registered, South Australia 1d, Tasmania 4d, Victoria 6d and
Western Australia 1/- (Fig.
New South Wales includes a virtually complete
range of all the specimen overprint types and the stamps on which they occur
from their introduction in the 1860s. Among the scarcest items are overprints on
the De La Rue 1d applied by the Company in London (Fig. 2),
as well as an imperforate De La Rue 2d with manuscript ‘Specimen’
3). There is also a comprehensive selection of the ‘REPRINT’
overprints, as well as sets of the OS stamps with both ‘GPO’ and ‘NSW’
concentric oval cancellations, both prepared in very limited numbers. There are
complete sheets of the (6d) Registered, 5/- Coin and £1 ‘POSTAGE’ overprint with
‘REPRINT’ overprint, and of the 5/- Centennial with ‘SPECIMEN’ overprint, all
from the Australia Post archival sales, and almost certainly the only complete
sheets in private hands.
In Queensland, the Chalons are all represented
with various overprint types, which were applied in several different colours.
The same applies to the Bradbury Wilkinson high values and the later
surface-printed issues. Throughout there are essays and plate proofs with
specimen overprints or endorsements. The scarce ‘CANCELLED’ overprints are
present, and the later c.t.o. material completes the picture. Amongst the
scarcer material are the 1900 Charity stamps overprinted with different
‘SPECIMEN’ types (Fig. 4)
5), and in c.t.o. blocks of six (ex Australia Post archives),
believed to be the largest multiples in private hands. There are also sets of
the various Stamp Duty issues.
Highlighting South Australia is a wonderful
range of the overprints found on the 1886 Postage & Revenue “Long” stamps.
All the recorded overprint types are present, mostly in complete sets or on all
denominations known. The U.P.U. overprint is in strips of five, there are
examples of manuscript endorsements, the later Melbourne c.t.o. stamps are also
present, and there are four different sets on printed sheets as prepared for
sale to collectors (Fig. 6).
The other South Australian issues are all represented, including a number of
scarce multiples, a series of colour trials for the De La Rue ½d and 2d, and
c.t.o. stamps of the Federal period. There is a very comprehensive range of
‘REPRINT’ overprints, including multiples and collectors’ sheets.
Tasmania features four reprint sheets of the
Courier stamps, the 1d and 4d Plates I and II in colour, and the 4d Plate II in
black. The ‘SPECIMEN’ overprints on the De La rue issues are represented in
blocks, as are the ‘REPRINT’ overprints, which include blocks of 60 of the St.
George & Dragon series. The Tablets and Pictorials are relatively
straightforward with ‘SPECIMEN’ overprints and c.t.o. stamps, however there are
also the ½d, 1d, 2d, 4d and 5d London-printed Pictorials with the De La Rue
‘CANCELLED’ overprint, each of which is possibly unique (Fig.
Victoria is the most complex of the Australian
Colonies, by virtue of the number of different stamp issues and the large number
of different ‘Specimen’ overprint types found [Bill was collaborating on a book
on this subject which will appear in the near future]. His collection was the
best ever formed, eclipsing those of J.R.W. Purves (which was unfortunately
lost in the Ash Wednesday bushfires) and Rod Perry.
There are at least thirty different ‘Specimen’ overprints known
on Victorian postage stamps, a few of which are known only from examples in
archival collections or the Royal Collection. All other types are represented in
the McCredie collection. This multiplicity of types was applied to sets of
stamps from the early 1860s, presumably for record or archival purposes, and it
was not until the 1890s that the well-known italic ‘Specimen’ overprint
was used for preparing sets for sale to collectors. All earlier types are very
scarce to rare, and The McCredie Collection contains many examples which are
the only ones known in private hands. For example, the Type 1 overprint
introduced in 1863 was applied to 19 different stamps, and the collection
includes a complete set, assembled from many different sources - three are the
only known examples, and a further five are the only examples recorded in
private hands. Among many highlights is a remarkable range of the large script
‘Specimen’ overprint, including a wonderful set of the Stamp Statutes; 16 of the
25 stamps overprinted with a small 13mm ‘SPECIMEN’ in 1879 to a number of
obsolete stamps held by the Post Office; the unique red ‘SPECIMEN’ overprint on
the mysterious 2d Queen-on-Throne proof on green paper; and two different
overprint types on the rare 35/- Stamp Duty (Fig.
The 1891 reprints prepared for U.P.U. distribution and later
sold to collectors are comprehensive and include sets in blocks both overprinted
‘Reprint’ and c.t.o, each the only set in private hands. There is a
c.t.o. sheet of 50 of the 2d Queen-on-Throne, and a “mint” sheet of the same
stamp, one of four presented to Post Office officials, of which one remains in
archives and another has been destroyed. The later Federal period c.t.o. stamps
are all present.
Western Australia is a small but important
group, with a number of scarce London-applied overprints or manuscript
endorsement of Perkins Bacon and De La Rue issues (Fig. 9).
The later period is straightforward, although it includes a Federal presentation
set with covering letter. There are two sets of the large Stamp Duty series, one
with manuscript ‘Specimen’ and the other with local ‘SPECIMEN’ overprint in red,
and there is also a ‘SPECIMEN’ set of the later Waterlow design Stamp Duties (1d
to £100, a mixture of London and local printings) affixed to a sheet.
Not only are the various U.P.U. distributions represented
throughout the Colonies collections, but in addition there is an exceptional
range of U.P.U. stamps with "Receiving Authority" handstamps. For every
Colony there are examples of the ‘ULTRAMAR’ handstamp applied in Lisbon prior to
distribution to Portuguese Colonies, many in complete sets affixed to folio
pages. The well-known Madagascar circular handstamp in red is also present for
Tasmania and Western Australia in complete sets on ledger pages. There are also
Victorian sets with the Natal ‘SPECIMEN’ handstamp in violet, Queensland and
Victorian sets with the Bechuanaland ‘SPECIMEN’, and the Victoria £1 King Edward
VII and Western Australia £1, handstamped ‘MUESTRA’ in different types
10) and (Fig.