Life Sentence

Random thoughts about publishing, stamp collecting, politics, popular music of the 60s and 70s, mooses, and my motley other obsessions.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

South Australia 3d red surcharges

This just appeared on eBay, and got me thinking.

I've been playing with these red overprints, and was trying to figure out just what this one was. (It is SG 91, red on dull ultramarine, perf 10. Boring.) The postmark is Farrell Flat, but from the days when it was called Farrell's Flat (they called it that from 1870-1940). Then I noticed the spelling: "Farrels"! The stamp is from 1870, so this is presumably the first postmark that office was issued. Martin Walker doesn't note the spelling variation in The Post, Telegraph and Telephone Offices of South Australia and the Northern Territory. Do I bother dropping $50 for a stamp I don't want to get that postmark? Nah -- I'll just save the image.

That 3d carmine overprint is not as simple as it is supposed to be. Gibbons lists it in just one variety, the perf 10 dull ultramarine, SG 91. So do the various other catalogues, including the Aussie Specialized and Scott. And likewise my usually trusty 1894 Napier and Smith.

OK, so here are some reds from my collection. The first one in the second row is the only true SG 91. The one beside it is the right shade but perf 10x10x10x11.5. The reprint is in there for entertainment value only. The one on piece is obviously on the wrong printing of the base stamp -- it is the later ultramarine shade.

I have a ratty Postilion reprint of something called The Postage Stamps of South Australia, which was apparently published in the 1940s by the Philatelic Society of South Australia.

It has a reference list of the stamps of South Australia, and lists the following:

136. Perf 10 on dull ultramarine (this is SG 91)
137. Perf 10 on pale ultramarine (this is the guy I have on piece, though we could debate the "pale")

It then goes on to list various compound perfs. It does list the 10x10x10x11.5 compound, but only shows two shades of the 6d found with this perf. The mirror-image 10x11.5x10x10 compound is recorded for the 1d and 1/- stamps.

So the second stamp in row 2 here may be a new discovery? Does anyone know of more recent research on these?


At 1:22 a.m., April 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My suggestion is to send the high resolution scan to the "Comparative Forgery Identification Site" at

At 2:15 a.m., April 04, 2005, Blogger Greg said...

Good idea, but Bill C. would just as likely ask me what I thought of it -- not sure if he has any other Aussie resources. I'm not too suspicious of the perf variety. The perf 11.5 was used to fix missing rows of perfs during that period. I'm actually more suspicious of the one on piece. The overprint is fuzzy, and it looks like it might have been stuck on over another stamp? Something weird going on there.

At 6:49 a.m., April 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely you should ask for a 600dpi scan ...

At 11:40 a.m., April 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a $40 USA start bid, I would ask for much larger than a 125 x 125 pixel image.

Secondly, the jpeg is set at a 70 or so compression level which distorts the entire image enough so that you cannot even see the overprint.

Perforations cut into the top and right hand side.

Based on Linn's Stamp News grading standards, this is at best an "Average" stamp or more likely "Fair". That puts it at somewhere around 10 to 20 percent of catalog assuming that it is free of thins, tears, creases and other faults.

At 11:42 a.m., April 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing, a grade description like "Fine for year of issue" or "Fine centering for this stamp" is meaningless because the fact that a particular issue has almost always poor centering is already included in the catalog price.

At 3:35 p.m., April 04, 2005, Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not really interested in the stamp listed on eBay, except to note that is seems to have a previously unreported postmark. It is just the generic common-shade/common-perf variety. (In fact, I'd be far more interested in it if it was a forgery.)

Centring is an interesting issue. It is of far more important to collectors of US stamps that it is for others. Most collectors of these SA stamps are far more interested in the perfs being intact than in good centring. I agree that the seller should have provided a better scan. I set my scanner for 600 dpi and a scan width of 450 pixels when I scan individual stamps. That's more resolution than is needed for the web, but the image will print out nicely if a would-be buyer wants more detail. (That reminds me that I should add a link to the stamps I'm selling on eBay to this blog. No rush -- not selling anything at the moment.)

At 9:30 a.m., October 11, 2005, Anonymous don said...

I have lots of these threepennies including three on covers .These three covers and a front are all that exist as far as I know.Your stamp on piece is a forgery {I have similar}and your compound perf item has been reperforated .Sad but true!!The stamp was issued at the beginning of august 1870.and about half were used in 1870 .printing was 24000.

At 9:03 a.m., October 30, 2005, Blogger Greg said...

Don, thanks. Yes, the reperf is obvious once you point it out. Drat!

At 6:37 a.m., October 31, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:29 a.m., October 31, 2005, Blogger Greg said...

Sure, that's my intention. But I'm currently trying to make sense of some early Samoan stamps. Will likely be asking some questions about them soon. Fee free that ask questions yourself!


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