Source: Dmitry Kostyukov

Modern Philately: Rare Australian Stamps Exciting the New Generation

It is likely stamps are one of the first items that come to mind when you envision collectables. Philately, the study and collecting of stamps, consistently ranks as one of the world’s most popular hobbies. The first philatelic club was born in London in 1869 and according to Stampworld, there are over 20 million stamp collectors worldwide today.

While stamp collecting is often considered an antique person’s game, there’s a new generation of younger collectors who appreciate the artistic pursuit. At 37, Suzanne Rae, owner of an online stamp shop, Art Stamped, is likely a new generation Philatelic.

Philately is tangible: it’s relaxing and unplugged. It’s also very Instagrammable,” says Rae, “It’s not only a geeky old man’s pursuit.

Suzanne Rae

It’s true stamps themselves are slowly becoming obsolete as we move to a high-tech society. Yet it seems these are the exact online dwellers who are enjoying the hobby the most. Many modern-day collectors have yet to use a stamp for it’s true purpose but find the hobby a therapeutic escape from a screen-based life. Each stamp tells a story, a small piece of art that’s a way to connect with the past.

With the world at our fingertips, it’s now easier than ever for philatelists to connect, share information and trade together. And there are plenty of rare Australian stamps to keep collectors interested. Here’s a look at a few of the rarest Australian stamps.

Inverted Swan Stamp, 1855

In 1855, Western Australia released its first stamps – a 4-pence blue postage stamp featuring the emblem of the colony. It is the 388 copies with an error, an inverted swan that is the most prized. Of the group, only 15 survived, making the inverted swan stamp among the most valuable in the world. All are currently in the hands of eager collectors, with the last recorded sale of one in 2018 fetching almost A$290,000.

10 Shilling Kangaroo & Map Essay Stamp, 1911

The stamp design is the product of a competition to be Australia’s first commonwealth stamp in 1911. Previously each colony produced its own unique postage stamps. The winner, Hermann Altmann, unfortunately never saw his design used. Instead, the final product is a combination of elements from a number of designs including a 10 Shilling, Kangaroo and map. An example of this valuable Australian stamp was auctioned for just over A$142,000.

Classic Victoria 3d Blue Stamp, 1850

Issued in 1850, the Classic Queen Victoria stamps only lasted a short run with barely any surviving to this day. The most valuable of its generation are the four Victoria stamps joined together, known as strips. In October 2006, a 1850 Classic Victoria strip sold for A$94,875 in Sydney. Although two of the stamps have slight damage, its scarcity remains enough to attract eager collectors.

2-Penny Scarlet King Edward VIII Stamp, 1936

One of the most precious Australian stamps never made it onto a letter. Created in honour of King Edward, the stamp was supposed to be destroyed when the monarch abdicated, however, a few remained. In 2014 an auction house sold a block of six 2-Penny Scarlets for just over A$282,000. A single example of this stamp fetched $120,000 at a Mossgreen auction in June 2017.

Queen Victoria Pair, 1902

The Queen Victoria PAir stamp is symbolic and significant because the number six value is only shown in the two lower corners – making these Australian stamps extremely unique and rare. All other stamps in this series displayed the 6d in all four corners. On top of this, there’s only one pair ever recorded with another 16 singles in existence. The exclusive pair was bought by an English collector for A$44,270 in a Melbourne sale in October 2006.

£2 Black & Rose Kangaroo & Map Stamp, 1912

The very first issue of the Australian Postal Service was controversial. The English monarchy was not impressed with the shift in design when the picture of the King was replaced by the Australian kangaroo. Today, this is one of the most relevant Australian stamps with a scarce JBC monogram single selling for A$120,000 in 2007. Varieties with the printer of the stamps, J.B. Cooke, monogram are far more collectable.

If you appreciate studying collectables, you might enjoy reading about the rare Australian coins worth a fortune.

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