australian stamp booklets

Looking at Australian Booklets
Modern Australian Booklets — Vending Machine
With Walter Owen

Further test booklets were issued in September 1982 being made up of frog and bird definitive stamps. This issue and the Eucalypts vending machine booklets were the subject of interesting articles by Betty van Tenac and B Sloman in the Australian Stamp Monthly of March and November 1983, so I will move on to:

Cockatoo $1 Booklet

Issued on March 1 3, 1985 for the new postal rates, this had a pane of 3 x 33c plus 1 x 1c stamp with a 'wallpaper" all over design of a simplified illustration of an Australian cockatoo (Figure 1). Available with either matt or gloss finish, this sounds even more like wallpaper!

Alpine Wildflowers 80C and and $1

New postal rates warranted this issue on August 25, 1 986. The 80c contained 2 x 36c, 1 x 5c and 1 x 3c stamps in se-tenant format. The $1 had 2 x 36c, 1 x 3c and 1 x 25c. Printed by Mercury-Walch, the stamps were rouletted (Figure 2).

Aboriginal Crafts 80c and $2

Postal rates increased on July 1, 1987, but these booklets were not issued until October 13. Depicting Aboriginal Art, the designs show close-ups of detail from utensils and hunting implements. The 80c had 2 x 37c and 2 x 3c and the $2, 5 x 37c stamps plus 1 x 15c. Allowing for the duplication, five different designs were included in these two booklets.

Australian Crafts 80c and $2

Issued on September 28, 1988 for new rates in effect from October 1 , these stamps were a most unusual design. Very clean looking (ie, a large 'unprinted' area) the 80c contained 2 x 39c (teapot) and 1 x 2c ('Australian Fetish' necklace) (Figure 3). The $2 had 5 x 39cand 1 x 5c stamps. I have not received any of these stamps on incoming mail! (Not unusual though — this seems to apply to most vending machine stamps!)

Urban Environment $3

The stamp designs show: a freeway view, city buildings and a commuter train. They were based on photos taken by Sally Newell of Melbourne. This booklet was reprinted (one black koala) and this was folded 4 x 3 instead of 4 x 2 x 1 as in the original. There were also slight colour variations and the focus on the reprint appears sharper, particularly on the buildings on stamps 2, 4 and 6 and the carriage on 3 and 7.

Probably the most controversial booklet from the public point of view, this consisted of 7 x 41c stamps, making a face value of $2.87, but as the machine could not dispense change the public was short-changed by 13c.

On June 30, 1989 I wrote to Australia Post regarding their previous advice that no legal authority existed to charge above face value for postage stamps — (part letter below).

'In the ASB No. 200 I note that new vending machine booklets are to be introduced containing 7x45c stamps but containing no makeup values. This obviously means 13c over face value for the booklet. Can you please advise if authority now exists for this charge and if it is because Australia Post is now a corporation".

To date, I have received no reply to this letter.

The outcry that followed the issue caused Australia Post to have notices affixed to the machines to the effect that empty booklets could be redeemed at Post Office counters for 13c (Figure 4).



Stamp folders contain 7 x 41 cent stamps only to the value of $2.87 A cash refund of 13 cents is available on presentation of an empty folder at any post office..


Heidelberg and Heritage $2

Subtitled 'The Modern 9 x 5s', this booklet was issued on September 3, 1990 and contained 4 x 43c (The Blue Dress) and 1 x 28c (Salmon Gums). Two different perforations were used, the booklets could be either — 14½ x imperf or 15½ x imperf.

Wetlands and Waterways $2

Issued in line with the new postage rates on January 2, 1992, this book contains 4 x 45c and 1 x 20c stamp featuring scenes that represent typical wetland environments. Reprinted approximately May 1992 (1 black koala) this issue was also overprinted 'World Columbian Stamp Expo '92 May 22-31 1992 — Chicago' in gold. However, this was available only by mail order or at the Expo.


That brings the issues up to date at time of writing and poses the question — is there a future for vending machine booklets? Actual machine sales figures would be very difficult to correlate without individual office breakdowns as they are regarded as part of 'general postage', I would consider that the greater part of sales are philatelic!

Frama machine labels have been in use for almost 10 years now and are still not readily accepted by the general public. (From personal experience, there seems to be customer resistance to these vending machines in general — even though the people experiencing difficulties would use a bank ATM with hardly a second thought).

However, should these machine-vended booklets be withdrawn, there would still be ample collecting scope in the counter booklets. With TOY and Species booklets having reprints to 1 kangaroo, the trains on release and forthcoming Dinosaur books, the field should still be wide enough for most, certainly to keep me occupied!

first published in Stamp News, March 1995, (illustrations then in black and white), but with more illustrations added.
Copyright Ears Leisurewrite.

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