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Oceania/Australia : Postage Stamp from the Note Printing Branch Thefts of the 1940s

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Rob1956
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Member ACCC (Australian Commonwealth Collectors Club of NSW)
15 May 2016
10:33:49am
THE NOTE PRINTING BRANCH THEFTS

Between 1948 and 1949 a number of previously unrecorded “errors” of King George VI stamps appeared on the market. Considering the relatively few major errors of Australian stamps which had occurred in the preceding twenty years, suspicion were raised and the matter was investigated by the Postmaster-General’s Department.

Their enquiry, undertaken in conjunction with the Note Printing Branch, proved beyond doubt that the material was illegally on the market, having been stolen from spoilt stock destined for destruction at the Note Printing Branch. It is believed that the manner in which the material was obtained was to smuggle in a perfect sheet of stamps, bought at a post office, and substitute this for the faulty one.

The thefts occurred over a period of years during the 1940s. Eventually, a former employee of the Note Printing Branch (from 1941 to 1947) was charged with the theft of certain specific material (sheets of the 1946 2½d Peace on unwatermarked paper) and their sale to a stamp dealer. He was tried before a jury and found not guilty in March 1951.

The Commonwealth Police confiscated a large amount of this material which had passed into dealers’ and collectors’ hands. For many years it was illegal to own this material or deal in it. (Excerpt from the Australian Commonwealth Specialists' Catalogue).

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Legitimate stamp with watermark in comparison

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