Dave Elsmore


This is the tenth in the series of ‘Let’s Educate the Judges’ in evaluating the exhibits of the Australian States Revenue and Railway Stamps. 

This paper is not a critique: it is written to guide the judge.  I offer my 40 years of knowledge seriously collecting South Australian Railway Parcel Stamps.

South Australian railway parcel stamps can be quite difficult to find and collect let alone evolve into an exhibit. The SA boys and girls have it tied up with very little information ‘leaking’ out. Bulk lots can be available for the first series but the latter numerals appear in short supply there is plenty for the exhibitor to study, much of the information staying within that state’s philatelic journals & collectors guarding information as if it were the crown jewels. None of the writings are complete some are wrong. Many additions are needed to bring this state up to speed. None the less a three frame starter would be within reach expanding to five as one ads material as it becomes available, to achieve eight frames you may have to take in the decimals.

When judging a South Australian railway parcel stamp exhibit there is very little references available to the judge. The Federal Australian Philatelist 1890 has an article. Morley has a listing. 1935 Australian Stamp Monthly, articles by Bassett Hull. Owen Ingles has published the ‘The Railway Stamps of Mainland Australia 1980” is now over 20 years old and in bad need of an update. Updated articles can be found in ‘Cinderella’s Australasia’ journal of the Cinderella Revenue & Railway groups and ‘The Shilling Violet’ published by South Australia Study Group. There appears to be room for further study and if shown should be rewarded.

Fig 1.

First Series essay [reduced] at left and accepted proof.

A small handful of an oversize [49 mm x 63 mm] essay die proof in black exists inscribed ‘V & R’ in upper and lower corners , previously recorded as a proof of the first issue, this is wrong. It must be clearly understood this is an essay and not a proof with alterations to the die replacing the 6d font left & right removal of the sky shading and changes to both upper and lower cartouche’s [fig 1] this should be well explained by the exhibitor. First issue 1886 proofs are scarce but are occasionally available and if shown would be a good start. 3 complete presentation sets are known from this first series all manuscripted ‘Cancelled’ by the same writer, and if shown this should reward.

Fig 2.

Unique ½d imperf.

A single ½d imperf [fig 2] exists from one of these presentation sets and is believed to have been a make up value and unique [no ½d proof exists to date]. In 1920 5 values were issued rouletted. All appear scarce with the 6d & 1/- rare a page or two should be appreciated by the judges as this form of separation only ran for a matter of months. Lithographed locally on light tint coated under-print, unwatermarked paper [fig 3] and issued circa Dec 1885 this first series ran for over 40 years with many shades to collect and exhibit from the majority of values. An SAR postmark study should reward with 12 recorded, a third of these the scarce but available. Farrow’s Flat, Wolseley & Lower Mitchem known with non SAR postmarks, more must exist; there is room for study here. A page of perfins should reward. Any usage is scarce.

Fig 3

Tint coated under-print.

Around 1921 the corner initials VR were changed to GR [fig 4] A change in the parcel rated saw these values 2d, 4d, 9d & 2/- withdrawn. All appear scarce with the 1/- rare.

Fig 4


In early 1927 a new numeral design, roulette 7 in sheets of 48 with no margin, this series ran till 1965 with minor changes only. Printer unknown. No complete listing for this long running series exists, all published works are wrong so there is plenty of room to show personal research here and if shown should be rewarded.. Archival records are incomplete. At least 12-14 different issues exist with coloured security tint under-printing changes, colour changes, different fonts found with and without serifs, even a small design dimension change this should be well explained by the exhibitor. The first issue [fig 5] black on checkered security tint under-print are rare with a unique top value of 5/- recorded from an issue of 14 values.

Fig 5

Unique 5/-. First Issue

Not all subsequent issues issued the 14 values; values were only added upon exhaustion, in fact some issues have only had 3 values recorded prior to another change. By early 1934 a colour change from black to red was issued with later 1963 issues adding a £1 & £5 [rouletted 13½] due to their short life both appear rare. Perfins on any issue are rare; usage is scarce but available [fig 6]. These are large stamps so condition is paramount. An obliterator study should be appreciated by the judges. A judge must not deduct points of incompleteness; no complete SAR collection is known to exist.

Fig 6

Scarce Usage

An exhibitor may struggle with importance as railways can only be exhibited in Traditional. All in all does the exhibitor have good understanding and knowledge of the subject, and does the exhibitor demonstrate this knowledge.

Railways in general lack published information and simple sources for obtaining material. Thus original research and the problem of acquisition can be difficult. This should be appreciated by the judges.

Treatment is left to the judge’s expertise with the exhibitor following the FIP SREV’s which can be found at the FIP web site here: https://www.f-i-p.ch/ The writer can be contacted at this email address: Dave

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