Australian kangaroo and map essay sees  $142,500 in Morgan auction

A unique example of the 10 shilling kangaroo and map essay stamp has sold at the top of the Morgan Collection of Australian Commonwealth Stamps, which was offered at auction on November 13-14 in London.

Kangaroo and Map essay stamp 10 shilling Australia Commonwealth
Charles Frazer was a hard man to please, rejecting several competition designs

The remarkable stamp sold for £90,000 ($142,563), with the auction house describing it as "a superb essay of the highest quality and importance."

It originates from the competition held in 1911 to create Australia's first commonwealth stamp. Until that point, the six self-governing Australian colonies had operated their own postal services, issuing their own stamps.

The first prize of the competition was awarded to Hermann Altmann, though his elaborate design was never to be used. In October 1911, Charles Frazer was appointed as postmaster-general and described Altmann's proposed designs as "execrable". It appears that he had personally resolved to have a stamp that featured an outline of Australia with a single kangaroo within it.

It is believed that Frazer took it into his own hands to create the stamp, incorporating elements from a number of designs. A horizontal format stamp was initially produced, but this was later replaced with a simplified vertical example which, following further changes, resulted in the final issue.

The example at auction was a stunning example of the type two essay - the penultimate design - which omits Tasmania and sports two value circles at the top. One of these value circles would be removed for the official stamp, as there was no room for it following the incorporation of Tasmania into the map. It was in superb condition, boasting excellent colour and near-perfect centring.

Bringing the second highest bids was the type two 1d stamp, another unique example, which sold for £75,000 ($118,776).

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb selection of British and Commonwealth stamps currently available in our online store. Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more of the latest from across the philatelic community.

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