australian stamp booklets

Modern Australian

by Walter Owen

At the end of 1978, I wrote to Australia Post suggesting that stamp booklets be re-introduced as the public was obviously interested in such a product. I also submitted a mock-up booklet which could be made using stamps taken from currently existing sheet formats (Figure 1 shows one pane of each value, whereas the actual booklet would contain two).

There would be no wastage from the sheets as they could be spilt into two and stapled or stitched by left or right selvedges. The format meant that the booklet gave both standard and first rate step non-standard rates and allowed combination of values to be used for overseas. Allowance was also made for private advertising by sponsors to help with production costs.

The reply (In part) read:

The Committee has been informed that the decision to cease production of postage stamp booklets was reached only after careful consideration of the factors involved. Sales had dropped by about two thirds and the cost of producing the booklets was several times the cost of printing ordinary stamps.

In the past it was possible to continue marketing stamp booklets by letting to a private contractor the advertising space within the booklets for resale to various advertisers. Unfortunately, the contractor was unable to attract sufficient advertisers, either in private industry or other Government departments, to utilise the booklet media and consequently did not wish to renew his contract.

The possibility of making an additional charge for booklets to cover manufacting costs was investigated. However, it was found that no legal authority existed to charge above face value for postage stamps (*)Thus, it was decided to discontinue the booklets and to provide the alternative facility of a stamp wallet.

Investigation is also being carried out on the possibility of vending stamps by machine similar to those you enclosed from the British Post office."

(*) This was in fact done with the 1989 Urban Environment vending machine folder, but that is another story.

Their reply was dated January 4, 1979 and on April 30 1979, two experimental vending machine booklets were issued for trials in machines at Brisbane GPO. These 60c and 80c booklets were made up of strips of three and four 20c Little Grebe stamps affixed to the booklet cover by the stamp selvedge. (Figure 2.)

In June 1979 I asked Australia Post to confirm my deductions on the make up and for other information (part letter):

"I have 60oc folders with the bottom sheet selvedge attached to the right hand side of the folder and with the top sheet selvedge attached to the left hand side of the folder As the folder stamps are taken from ordinary sheets of 20c this would leave four complete horizontal rows from the middle of the sheet as surplus. Would they be used in folders by any other method or sold as 'ordinary stamps'.

Similarly I have 80c folders with the right hand sheet selvedge at the right of the folder and left sheet selvedge at the left of the folders. This layout would leave the two vertical centre rows unused. Would they be used partly In the 60c folders?

Do any combinations of make-up exist other than those mentioned above? Were any sheets with colour bars used in folders? I realise that some of this information may not be available but have learnt from past mistakes that it is better to try to obtain information as soon as possible and whilst material is still current, particularly with this type of issue."

Later In June I received a very helpful reply, which read in part.

"your assumptions are accurate in terms of the usage of stamps in the makeup of the folders. The 60c folders were made up as you described, using the top and bottom three stamps from each pane. The strip of four stamps across the centre of the sheet will not be used for postage purposes, as staff associations have advised that accounting problems exist when dealing with broken sheets and in consequence agreement has been reached that precludes their use.

The 80c folders were also made up as described, and although it was originally planned to utilise the left-over strips in 60c folders, the contractor felt that they would have some problems with the reconciliation and so it was decided not to use the strips.

No other formats are produced. As far as can be ascertained no colour bars appeared in the folders, but this cannot be guaranteed.

The initial field test is confined to the Walkway location at the Brisbane GPO using a Japanese manufactured Machine to electrically dispense the 60c folders and the manually operated Swedish manufactured machine for the 80c folders."

These booklets were also available from Philatelic Sales Points and I have FDI cancellations on all four formats.

Acknowledgements to Australia Post Head quarters.

This article first published in Stamp News, June 1993.
Copyright Ears Leisurewrite.

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