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Sale No. 63

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.... Sale 63 unsold lots now available for purchase ....

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    Specimen Stamps of the Australian Colonies

    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. 1).

    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(Fig. 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) and (Fig. 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. 7).

    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. 8).

    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 (Fig. 10) and (Fig. 11).

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