Thursday, 19 April 2018

Southern Rhodesia 1924 - Definitives

It was a self-governing British Crown colony from 1923 to 1980. Southern Rhodesia, located in southern Africa, was the predecessor state of modern Zimbabwe. prior to its formation in 1923, this colony was administered by the British South Africa Company. Interestingly, in 1953 it ceased to be Southern Rhodesia for some ten years. It joined with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. But then in 1963 Southern Rhodesia appeared again as a self-governing body. 


In 1924 Southern Rhodesia issued its first set of KGV definitives. This design features King George V looking quite dapper in his naval uniform. This set is commonly referred to as the "Admiral" issue. This set was recess printed on unwatermarked paper and perforated 14. In all, 14 different values was issued, and it was in use till 1930. Below are a few examples from the set.

Until next time...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

I Spy... A New Postmark

I always get a little thrill when I start to collect a new country and I identify my first postmark within that country. My latest thrill came a short time ago after I received a small lot of KGV Southern Rhodesia stamps. While sorting I put this stamp aside to see if I could find the origin of the postmark. This stamp is from the second KGV definitive series issued in Southern Rhodesia between 1931 and 1937. This particular stamp, the 10d carmine and ultramarine, was first  issued in 1933.

My investigation didn't take me as long as I'd first thought. The Post Office of origin for this stamp was Gwelo. Gwelo was changed to Gweru in 1982. Gweru is located right near the city centre of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe is what Southern Rhodesia is now called). It is the capital of the Midlands province, which is one of ten provinces of Zimbabwe. To find out more about Gweru, click HERE. That's one more Post Office identified!

Until next time...

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Australia 1931 - Kingsford Smith

Air Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith - Smitty - is a legendary Australian aviator. His record breaking flights between 1927 and 1935 earned him legendary status to all Australians, and indeed the world. His worldwide fame came on 31 May 1928 when he made the first successful trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia. Later that same year, in August, he made the first non-stop crossing of the Australian mainland, from Melbourne to Perth. H was also the first to fly between Australia and New Zealand. And as if that weren't enough he also made a record-breaking flight from Australia to London, in just 10.5 days.

In the early hours of 8 November 1935 the Lady Southern Cross, piloted by Kingsford Smith and his co-pilot, John Thompson, was seen flying into a storm on route to Singapore from India. This was the last ever sighting of the great aviator.
"Eighteen months later, Burmese fishermen found an undercarriage leg and wheel (with its tyre still inflated) which had been washed ashore at Aye Island in the Gulf of Martaban, 3 km (2 mi) off the southeast coastline of Burma, some 137 km (85 mi) south of Mottama (formerly known as Martaban). Lockheed confirmed the undercarriage leg to be from the Lady Southern Cross. Botanists who examined the weeds clinging to the undercarriage leg estimated that the aircraft itself lies not far from the island at a depth of approximately 15 fathoms (90 ft; 27 m). The undercarriage leg is now on public display at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia." (Wikipedia


In 1931 the Post Office released a set of three stamps to honour the great flyer. The design of this stamp featured Kingsford Smith's now famous plane, the tri-motor Fokker  F.VIIb/3m, Southern Cross, in flight above the eastern and western hemispheres. The badge of the Royal Australian Air Force can be seen behind the word 'AUSTRALIA'. This stunning stamp was designed and engraved by the very talented F.D. Manley.

The issue came in three denominations. 2d, 3d, and 6d which was used for airmail. I'll detail more on the 6d, which went through some changes, later.


A small quantity of the 2d and 3d stamps were overprinted 'OS'. This was the first time commemoratives were overprinted for official use instead of being punctured.


Although a stamp inscribed 'Airmail' was released on 19 March 1931, it was part of a commemorative series (Kingsford Smith) so its availability was limited. 


In May 1931, the Post Office decided to continue the 6d Air Mail stamp in the same design as the Commemorative, albeit with some alterations. The inscription 'Kingsford Smith's World Flights' was removed from the stamp and was replaced with the words 'Air Mail Service'. And the colour was changed to sepia. The stamp was issued on 4 November 1931.

Later in November, some quantities of the stamp were taken and overprinted 'OS'. They were released on 17 November and, unlike other 'OS' stamps which were for official use, these overprints were available for purchase by the public.

Until next time...

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

I Focus... On Australia's KGV Kookaburras

Australia's 4th International Philatelic Exhibition was held in Melbourne from 29 October to 1 November 1928. It was staged in the Melbourne Town Hall. This event was to prove momentous in the philatelic history of Australia. Why? For the answer to that we must first turn back the clock to 1914.

It all began on 30 January 1914 when a stamp design prepared by RA Harrison bearing a kookaburra was approved by the Postmaster-General. In March, it was announced in the press that Harrison's kookaburra design "was copied from an exhibit sent in by Mr Blamire Young". The approved design was then sent to TS Harrison who cut the die for the stamp. On 5 March he submitted a set of eight colour proofs to the Postmaster-General. After studying the proofs, the Postmaster-General selected a claret colour for the stamp on 10 March. Work commenced on the printing plates shortly after on 3 April, and they were ready to go in 7 July. Then on 24 August, distribution of the new claret kookaburra definitive stamps began. The new stamps were first put on sale two days later on 26 July 1914. What hit the market that day is hands down one of Australia's most stunning engraved stamps.


Now back to Melbourne in 1928. The organisers of the International Philatelic Exhibition want something really special for this year's event. Something that will really wow the crowds. What better crowd-pleaser, they decide, than an on-location printing press churning out special miniature sheets for the event. These miniature sheets were to be printed in special sheets of 60 arranged so there were 15 blocks of 4 stamps, each block surrounded by a selvedge. But what stamp to use? Hey, why not revitalise that stunning 1914 kookaburra classic! This time, however, the stamp would have a new denomination of 3d, which was the basic 1oz letter rate to foreign countries and the airmail fee for  a ½oz letter within Australia. Also, the stamp had a colour change to blue. It must  be noted that this stamp was also printed in sheet form at the Note Printing Branch, along with extra miniature sheets. In total, 250,500 miniature sheets were printed.

But this wasn't the last time the KGV period in Australia saw the kookaburra sit proudly on a stamp. Stocks of the 6d claret kookaburra were all but exhausted. A new definitive was needed to replace it. And if you're onto a good thing why not stick with it. Another kookaburra was the order of the day. Initially the new kookaburra design was going to be engraved and printed in recess, but since the country was still battling the Great Depression, as an economic measure, the stamp was printed in letterpress and issued on 1 June 1932.. It is still a beauty in my opinion.

Until next time...