Filling the Gaps by Dave Cleaver
An Example of vicarious collecting – Australia Kangaroos
In 2016, I offered to acquire stamps on behalf of an elderly gentleman, who didn’t have access to the internet, but was trying to “complete” his Australia collection. Obviously, the word “complete” means different things to different people. Mint stamps are of little interest to my acquaintance. His opinion is that, for a stamp to be collectable, it must have been used for the purpose for it was produced. It’s his collection, and so he makes the rules, and so I was asked to source the following good-to-fine used Australian “Roos”, and set about trying to find reputable Australian philatelic dealers who “knew their stuff”, and were prepared to deal by internet and e-mail with an Englishman acting on behalf of another Englishman. Four stamps were needed to “complete” the gentleman’s collection
and these were all from the 1913 first issue, with Watermark “A”.
The images of the 10/- and £2 stamps are the actual ones I managed to buy. This little batch of just four stamps was quite expensive, and I thought I had completed the gentleman’s collection for him. However, during a visit in the summer of 2020, between lockdowns, I asked if I could view the completed collection. He brought out the album, and I flicked through, and was surprised to find twelve gaps throughout the five later batches of Kangaroo issues. I said that I was under the impression that I had been able to fill all the gaps for him, to which he replied “Oh, these are just different watermarks. I’ve got one of each value, and that’s what I wanted.” He noted my disappointment, and he asked if I thought he should acquire the missing values with other watermarks. It was hardly my place to tell him what he should spend his money on, but I suggested that it may be like collecting one set of British “Seahorses” – everybody knows there are four versions, with different watermarks and printers, dies and re-entries, and that the gaps would stick out quite obviously, since he was using a “One Country” album, with spaces already marked out for the stamps, he would never collect.
He thought about this for some time, and then asked if I would be prepared to hunt them down for him. He was adamant, however, that inverted or sideways watermarks were of no interest to him. We sat down and made a list of all the gaps, with values, SG numbers and the four other types of watermark that “Roos” were printed on. He was also adamant that the stamp cancels did not need to be fine or very fine. He was aware that they would have been used on parcels and that cancellations were likely to be heavy, over-inked, and badly applied. I then did the research, found out likely sources, and indicative prices, and was able to contact the gentleman a few days later with a budget, which he agreed to immediately, without any need for discussion or thought. The budget was again substantial, and I managed to acquire the following (all of the images below are the actual stamps purchased). I used a couple of the dealers I’d used in the earlier exercise, for the rarer items, and bought from British dealers for the less rare items.