Amazing Australian airmail souvenir – Dec 2 auction

Amazing Australian airmail souvenir – Dec 2 auction

Vance auctions has a unique must have Australian airmail souvenir in their Dec 2 sale. On the surface, this little pink ticket doesn’t look like much, but a bit of digging unearths its place in Australia’s rich aviation history.

Photo of a Season Ticket for an Australian airmail show 1937

1937 Australian airmail season ticket

Item 1538 Australia airmail ephemera SEASON TICKET for AIR MAIL EXHIBITION Melbourne 5-7 Oct 1937. Price 2sh6d, green on pink. VF. Beautiful collateral item for the Airmail collector …. Est 100.00+ Vance Auctions Dec. 2, 2020

This small slip of paper will be ignored by a lot of people which means they’ll be missing a true aerophilately gem. The $100 value doesn’t do justice to its historical value

Australian airmail and aviation legacy runs deep

The 1937 exhibition rang a bell.  I remembered seeing references to it in past airmail studies. A quick search verified how important this item is. Between Oct 6-8, 1937, Melbourne City Hall hosted a 3 day aerophilately exhibition. One wonderful thing about the internet is the relative ease in finding original documents. My search through the Victoria government archives uncovered the event calendar.

Front cover from the 1937 Air Mail Exhibition

Cover from the Melbourne Air Mail

The 38-page catalogue represents a timeline of early Australian airmail and aviation pioneers.

Aviation has made remarkable progress within a comparatively brief period and the many and varied exhibits, posters, charts and photographs illustrative of the many aspects of transportation by air makes it difficult for one to realise that the first Melbourne to Sidney air mail was carried in 1914 – twenty three years ago. – p. 18 Catalogue of the Air Mail Exhibition

The Bonney Boomerang – Maude Rose “Lores” Bonney OBE

One of the big draws at this exhibition was autographed covers flown by the Bonney Boomerang. Maude Rose Bonney was the first female to fly solo from Australia to the United Kingdom. She’s relatively unknown today, but she was a contemporary of Emelia Earhart and beat her in this race, She completed the 157-hour flight in 1933 and carried a limited number of covers with her. She posted them along the route and the catalogue lays out what autographed covers were on offer:

List of covers sent on the trip

List of covers on sale at the exhibition

Stamp dealers & their catalogues

Another fascinating aspect of this exhibition were the dealer advertisements. A couple are legendary. WM Ackland issued his own catalogues, some of which can be found for sale online. Many old catalogues are still reliable references for collectors. They are an inexpensive way to acquire quality information about stamps and covers. Modern catalogues are expensive and far out of reach for many stamp collectors. Monetary values are out of date, but those are easy to find online.

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Ackland’s Special Australian Stamp catalogue


Scan of Willaim Ackland business card

Business card for William Ackland. Courtesy Victoria State archives

Sanabria – the best airmail catalogues around

Another renowned seller was Nicholas Sanabria. He took out a full-page ad in the catalogue promoting the 2nd printing of his specialty airmail catalogue Standard Catalogue of Air Posts Stamps.

Page from catalogue with Sanabria ads

Sanabria Air Mail catalogue ads

Sanabria specialised in aerophilately and his catalogues, though out of print for decades, are still invaluable for any airmail collector. The level of detail offered in his catalogues is excellent. A hard cover first edition can be had for as little as $12. It’s worth the investment if you specialise in aerophilately. I often refer to them when I need specialised details that are lacking in Scott or Stanely Gibbons editions.

Explaining Aerophilately & classification

The exhibition catalogue goes on to explain, in depth what Aerophilately is and the various classifications within the field. If you’re new to airmail collecting, print out the page below and keep it for reference. The classification system laid out is still in use today and a wonderful way to organise your collection. You’ll be hard put to find a better write-up.

Page 14 of the Airmail catalogue detailing aerophilately categories

The Scope of Aerophilately

If you get a copy of the exhibition catalogue, check out page 14, which breaks down the categories in greater detail. It’s a handy resource for all airmail collectors to have on file. I’ve barely scratched the surface on this event, and a thorough examination of the 1937 catalogue will uncover much more historical value for Australian history fans. This old season ticket is an Australian airmail treasure. If you specialise in Australian philately or airmail, you might want to check out the auction here,

Quick note on the catalogue:

I originally found the exhibition catalogue at the State Library Victoria, but when I went to verify the link for this article, it was no longer available.  If it reappears, I’ll add a link. I downloaded the catalogue in pdf form when I began researching the ticket, so if you want a copy, drop me a line below and I’ll send it along to you.