Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rarity Ratings

It was Hugh Campbell who first developed a rating scale for Queensland numerals in his Queensland Cancellations and other Postal Markings published in 1977.

When Manning published his work in 2009 he used a similar but expanded rating scale, based on a physical count of over 36,000 numerals on Queensland stamps. Manning further refined his rating scale when publishing his 2nd edition, released in March 2014, with 7,000 more numerals physically counted as well as receiving feedback and examples from collectors who had used his first edition. 

While the scale used by Manning is in line with the published work on Victorian and NSW numeral cancellations by Hugh Freeman, it means that his ratings are not directly comparable with those of Hugh Campbell. 

I have retained Manning’s scale as

  • it would be pointless to develop a new scale when one already exists and is based on some 43,000 examples
  • there is a need to maintain consistency 
  • Manning’s scale is logical and well thought out. 

I have updated the ratings used by Manning for those numerals where additional material or new discoveries have come to light since his publication. As well, for the 4R and 5R ratings I have included all examples owned, seen or located by me in order that over time we can get some idea of just how many copies of these numerals exist. For other ratings I have included the best examples available.

I have also included examples of the different issues where available, covering the NSW issues, Chalons, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd side faces as well as Revenue and Commonwealth issues. I will also be including as much “proving” material as possible. Proving material is where a numeral can be tied to a location, usually through a date stamp or registered hand stamp.

In my experience Manning’s ratings are pretty accurate, which would be expected given the number of copies he examined. However I believe that some of the numerals on both the Chalons and the Commonwealth issues below numeral 600 + are not as rare as indicated by him. The reason for this may simply be that with the rise of the Internet and Ebay many of these numeral examples held outside of Australia are becoming known for the first time.

No matter how many additional examples are seen and how they affect the existing ratings over time, the concept of relative scarcity will always exist. By this I mean that some post offices served smaller communities than other post offices and / or were open for shorter periods of time. So, for example, a numeral 210 on a Chalon will always be more scarce than on a numeral 201 or 214 simply because much less mail was posted at Duaringa (as the town was smaller and the post office only opened in 1875) compared to the far larger towns of Toowoomba and Rockhampton where the post offices both opened in1858.


This is Manning’s rating scale, which I have adopted:

NNS: Number Not Seen 
5R: 1 - 2 examples 
4R: 3 - 8 examples 
3R: 9 - 15 examples 
2R: 16 - 30 examples 
Rare: 31 - 60 examples 
Scarce: 61 - 80 examples 
Common: 80+ examples

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