australian stamp booklets

Looking at Australian Counter Booklets.
with Walter Owen.

.On July 1, stamp booklets were returned to Australia Post's product range. They had been out of production for several years despite repeated requests for their re-introduction.

The new booklets, for sale over the Post Office COUNTER, should not be confused with VENDING MACHINE booklets (a separate product).

Each booklet contained a pane of 10 37c stamps from the current definitive range of 'Living Together'. Production was shared by the two contracted stamp printers in Melbourne - CPE and Leigh-Mardon. The two printers used different methods. The CPE booklet pane was guillotined along the outer edges leaving the top and bottom of the pane imperforate (Fig 1) The left margin was imperf and the right margin perforated.

The Leigh-Mardon booklets were completely perforated, including the left margin - and this printing had no right margin (Fig 2).

Apart from this basic difference, the printers name appeared in the selvedge affixed to the outer jacket.

All the stamps were printed in photo-lithography on Harrison's Stamp Paper. The stamp size was 30mm x 30mm., perforated 14 between stamps, but imperf. on the outer edges on CPE pane.

The outer covers also differed.

The CPE printing had a lighter red and highly glossy cover. The stamp illustration colours were darker, there was a cancelling line drawn through both illustrations and the 15mm wide holding tab was set 20mm from the top of the cover. The advertisement inside was for "Bicentennial Stamp Heritage Book Collection".

The Leigh-Mardon printing was a darker red and less glossy. There was a cancelling line only through the larger illustration and the 15mm holding tab was set 23mm from the top of the cover. The advertisement inside was for "Annual Collections".

The printing of the actual covers was carried out by normal (not necessarily security) printers. They were printed in sheets of nine modules each consisting of five booklet covers.
Fig 3 shows an uncut row of covers with printers' guidelines in the right hand edge and bottom.
Fig 4 shows an uncut row of covers with the guidelines at the top.
Fig 5 shows an uncut row before the application of the blue background.

Figure 3
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Figure 4
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Figure 5
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A publicity notice was issued for display in Post Offices starting in August 1988. It is interesting to note that neither of the stamp illustrations had the cancelling line through them.

Shortly before the release of the booklets, it was announced that the price of a basic stamp was to rise in October.

On September 28, 1988, a new booklet containing 10 39c stamps was released in readiness for the new postal rates introduced on October 1. Printed by CPE Australia Ltd. Melbourne, the booklet was similar to that issued for the 37c stamps but with a blue cover. There were also minor differences in the positioning of the cancelling lines through the stamp illustrations. With these books, the line through the larger of the stamps was placed higher, and the line on the small one continued right through. On the 37c cover this stopped at the edge of the blue colour.

As with the previous CPE printing, the stamp panes were imperf. top and bottom and the CPE logo appeared in the selvedge. There were marked shade differences on the booklet covers ranging from a pink tinge to dark blue on the stamp ilustrations. The advertisement inside was for "Annual Collections".

A publicity notice was also issued for this booklet. In contrast to the previous notice for the $3.70 booklets, all the stamp illustrations had the black cancelling line through them.

The notice was the same size as the previous one but in a slightly different format. Also, whereas the reverse of the previous card was blank, this one had the "customer benefits" listed thus:

CUSTOMER BENEFITS * easier to keep - Ideal for wallet or handbag * Have stamps on hand when you need them * Less likely to tear or damage * You pay no more.

On February 13, 1989 a new set of definitive stamps, "Sports - Series 1", was issued. The 39c value (fishing) was issued in booklet form comprising one pane of 10 stamps. Printed in photolithography by Leigh-Mardon Pty Limited Melbourne, the 39c stamp was printed on CPL paper. Perforated 14.4 x 14 the pane was imperf. top and bottom, the right hand margin is perforated through and the left margin is either perf, imperf, or has one extension perforation hole in the margin. These booklet panes were also found printed on Harrison's paper.

The Leigh-Mardon logo appeared in the selvedge (this time at the top instead of the bottom as previously). There was no cancelling line through the stamp illustration but the design from the back of the cover carried through to the front and showed a fish-hook embedded in the stamp (this does not appear on the actual stamp). The advertisement inside is for "1988 Annual Collection".

The cutting of the panes was very poor with perfectly centred copies being hard to find. In some cases "Australia" and the value were cut into and could be seen imposing into the bottom of the stamp above. Also, cases were known of covers being supplied with no stamp content.

A new publicity notice was issued for Post Office display. This one was slightly larger than the previous notices and it also had customer benefits listed on the reverse.

On August 23, 1989, a new booklet was released containing a pane of 10 41c stamps in line with the new postal rise on September 1. The stamp was part of the second series of Sports stamps and featured "Cycling".

It was printed by Leigh-Mardon Pty Ltd in photolithography on Harrison's paper. Similar in size to the fishing booklet with the tab in the same position, but the advertisement inside is for "The Colonial Collection".

From October 1989 Australia Post introduced a system which allowed for clear identification of stamp reprints. This consisted of a koala "logo" printed in the selvedge of sheets and also booklets. The first booklet to carry this logo was the $4.10 cycling booklet.

The first reprint shows one koala, the second two, and so on and, to the date of writing this (May 1990) the fourth reprint has appeared (Fig 6) With news just released of Australia Post's intention of increasing the basic rate in September this year it will be interesting to see if eight reprints are made and if so what happens then, as the selvedge will be full of koalas.

With regard to perforations, as it is difficult to obtain printing information, I can only assume that the same type of perfs. appear in the margins of the "cycling" panes as in the fishing booklets.

To date I have collected cycling booklets with perforated margins in the original and all four reprints - extension perf. types in the 1st, 3rd and and 4th reprints only - and have as yet to see the imperf. type on any pane. If they do exist these types may be common in some parts of the country due to distribution factors.

If anyone can supply information on these or would like to swap I have spares of those listed and would like to hear from you. I would also be inerested in any additional information to that above.

I hope to update the definitives and tackle commemorative issues for the counter booklets later, but as information is sparse, and hard to come by, don't hold your breath - it could be some time coming!

This article was published in Stamp News May 1991. to read the next article
click here.Counter booklets part 2.

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