Greatest Collection Of Australian Commonwealth Stamps Sees Daylight After Two Generations


Third Watermark £2 with Harrison imprint

London. July 24, 2012. An outstanding selection of the world's finest Australian Commonwealth stamps will go on sale to the public, after two generations of private collecting. Stamp collectors and enthusiasts will be offered the rare treat of being able to pick from some extremely rare examples, which will go on sale in a special auction at Spink in London on the 13 & 14 November, 2012.

This outstanding collection was created by William Morgan and his son Hugh Morgan, who, through diligent and passionate collecting via trusted advisors have culminated in one of the world's largest and most stunning collections of Australian Commonwealth stamps to have ever come on to the market.

Nick Startup, Stamp specialist at Spink UK, said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer such a unique and exceptional collection. The calibre of this collection of Australian Commonwealth stamps has not been seen since the Kilfoyle Collection in the early 1960s. We can only express our excitement that stamp collectors have been afforded the opportunity to obtain such rarities that have not been seen for many years."

Among the highlights in the collection is the design for a 1911 Stamp Design Competition. On 21 January 1911 a Commonwealth Stamp Design Competition was announced to find a design for the new stamps. The rules stipulated that designs were to "contain features characteristic of Australia and had to include the words "AUSTRALIA" and "POSTAGE". All entries were to be made under a nom-de-plume. The Morgan collection contains five different pen and ink essays by "Haereo", the nom-de-plume of E.T. Luke, who worked at The Age newspaper in Melbourne. He was able to take advantage of his position to prepare lithographic-printed essays of his designs, which were affixed below his enlarged drawings.


 E.T. Luke competition entry

With the development of the Kangaroo and Map design, a series of essays were produced. One such is a horizontal design showing the kangaroo on a map of Australia, flanked by draped flags. Only eight known examples are recorded, of which five are in the National Philatelic collection of Australia Post. The Morgan collection has the 2½d. printed in blue.

Other essays in the collection include a vertical design showing the map of Australia without Tasmania, and two value circles in the upper part of the design. These are the rarest of all the Kangaroo essays, with only five examples, all of different denominations, being recorded. The Morgan collection contains two of the three in private hands.


Type 1 essay

Another essay features the final approved design. These essays were printed in sheetlets of four. One had ½d., 1d., 2d. and 3d. denominations, and the other had 5/-, 10/- and 20/- denominations plus a lone kangaroo. The Morgan collection contains one of the largest groups of these essays ever assembled, including one of only seven recorded high value sheetlets.

The issued stamps of the Kangaroo issue include a multitude of the "JBC" and "CA" monograms plus the various imprints. Of particular note are the First watermark ½d. "JBC" corner monogram block of twelve imperforate at base and a used example with sideways watermark, and 3d. "JBC" monogram block of four imperforate on three sides. The highlights of the Third watermark include the 2½d. missing "1" of fraction perforated OS,  a 2/- with "CA" monogram  a 2/- pair imperforate on three sides and a £2 block of four with Harrison imprint.

 The King George V Heads include Perkins, Bacon die proofs in First, Second and Fourth States. Another die proof in the collection is the 1/4d. in issued colour. Again monograms and imprints are to be found throughout the various printings and denominations. Of particular note is the C of A watermark 2d. red with inverted "OS" overprint on 1933 front from Ardelethan. Three examples of this error are recorded, but this is the only example known on entire.


1/4d. die proof in issued colour

The King George VI issues include a range of multiples showing plate numbers. These plate numbers were intended to be trimmed prior to issue, therefore they survive only as a result of mis-guillotining, or because of paper folds during printing, and represent major rarities of the reign.


C of A Watermark 2d. with inverted "OS" used on front from Ardelethan

In 1942-44 six new designs were issued to meet increased postal rates. Virtually the only surviving die proofs of the earlier series are in the Royal Philatelic Collection, but of the 1942-44 series a single additional set of presentation die proofs was made to the Director-General of the Post Office, Mr. L.B. Fanning. The Morgan collection contains a die proof of the 5½d. Emu definitive from this source.


1942 5½d. Emu die proof in issued colour

The Morgan collection of Queen Elizabeth issues includes some the rarest and most important errors of this period. The first missing colour to occur on an Australian stamp, is the 1955 Y.M.C.A. commemorative with the red triangle omitted. The triangle was added as a second operation by typography. Two examples were discovered soon after issue, one mint and the other used on cover cancelled at Caufield South. The cover did not appear on the philatelic market until 1970, when it was purchased for the Morgan collection.

Another major rarity is the 1963 5d. green commemorative for the 50th Anniversary of Canberra vertical corner pair imperforate at right. Other than this pair, only a single used example has been found.

In the Decimal period, numerous missing colours are to be found in the collection, particularly among the 1966 definitives and comprise the 5c. brown omitted, 13c. red omitted, 15c. grey omitted, 15c. pink omitted and 30c. red omitted, all in strips in combination with normal stamps.

The collection is estimated to sell for in excess of £3 million.

The collectors

William Morgan began collecting as a serious pursuit in the early 1960s, joining the Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria in 1970. Pages in his collection indicate that he sought advice from a J.R.W. Purves, who guided him on the development of the collection. His major interest was in the Kangaroo and King George V issues, both very specialised. Following William Morgan's death on the 2nd February 1972, the collection passed to his son, Hugh Morgan, in view of his long-standing interest in philately.

Hugh Matheson Morgan (born 1940) followed his father into the Western Mining Corporation and was CEO of the company between 1990 and 2003. He also served as President of the Business Council of Australia from 2003 to 2005, and was appointed to the board of the Reserve bank of Australia in 1996.

Hugh Morgan's interest in stamp collecting began in early childhood, but with the inheritance of his father's collection, Australian Commonwealth became the focus of his interest. He chose initially to concentrate on the decimal issues so as to complement the existing collection, but determined 1972 as a cut-off date, this being the date of his father's death and also a protest against what he saw as an unnecessary proliferation of new issues. Hugh joined the Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria in January 1972.

Due to business commitments, little was added to the collection until the mid-1980s, but from 1989, with the assistance of a curator, Tom Carter, selective acquisitions were made. This coincided with a decision to exhibit the collection, which involved the remounting of a large portion of the collection under Tom Carter's guidance. 

For further press information, or pictures, please contact: Sandie Maylor,


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