Alterered First Day Covers and PNC's

May 7, 2010

If you take an interest in PNC's -Postal Numismatic Covers, then you'll know there are many many issues released jointly with Australia Past and The Royal Australian Mint and The Perth Mint. Some are released as a limited edition numbered item with a legal tender coin or a medallion.

With the release of a series of stamps by Australia Post also issued are a variety of stamp booklets, minisheets or first day covers marking the particular event or issue.

Where this goes awry is when non Australia Post people alter or add to genuine Australia Post articles for profit and the unsuspecting buyer can be sucked into thinking what they are buying is a genuine Australia Post release (We've spoken about this before).

This has shown itself on sites such as eBay when items are listed such as:

  • Genuine First Day cover altered with a holed insert included with the envelope
  • Genuine First Day Cover or PNC with overprinting, embossing or embellishment
  • Genuine First Day Cover or PNC with extra postmarking
  • Homemade stamp cover with non-original artwork replicating a genuine First Day Cover or PNC
  • Homemade envelope with insert and legal tender coin or medallion with non-original artwork.

A good friend of the blog has recently corresponded with Australia Post to ask whether this altering is a breach of copyright. Here's what Australia Post had to say:

"Good afternoon, Mr XXXXXXXXX.

I write in reply to your enquiry regarding the on selling of officially released Australia Post philatelic products.

I have viewed the item for sale through the eBay auction site and must advise, that unless the item is presented to the viewer as having been released by Australia Post in the manner to which it is presented, there is no action that we are able to take.

Buyers of philatelic covers, PNCs and miniature sheets are able to purchase these products, and then with suitable overprinting, use them to promote any number of events and celebrations. I believe this to be the case in the instance of the 200462727617.

However, there are copyright concerns within the product if permission was not obtained from the Australian Defence Force for the use of the word "ANZAC" and the application of the Rising Sun insignia which have both been applied to this particular product design.

Unfortunately, with a number of philatelic products sold through this particular site it remains a case of "Buyer Beware". I know this continues to be a source of frustration for collectors and I understand your disappointment when there is a feeling that an item is being sold well above the originally released price. I can only stress again that collectors need to be aware of officially released products. Being a recipient of the Australian Stamp Bulletin helps collectors keep up with official philatelic products from Australia Post.

There are also philatelic items that can be made up and sold by collectors. This is a common practice, as with commemorative covers, or overprinted objects for stamp shows and events.

A couple of instances where Australia Post copyright would be compromised is that if the designs on a product were used in another product and then on sold as their own, or if an amended official product was sold as being an officially released item without the express permission of the Australian Postal Corporation.

I hope this information has been of some assistance to you and I thank you for drawing the item to our attention.

Kind regards
Kerry D Tillison
Publications Consultant | Marketing
Philatelic Group | Australia Post"

In a nutshell this means that anyone can do anything to any Australia Post product and legally sell it as long as they don't claim it to be a genuine Australia Post issue. It really is a case of buyer beware. If you've seen something you'd like to buy on an auction site such as eBay, before you set that bid in place or click on that Buy It Now then do your research. Check the Australia Post website or other informative websites such as our weblog or a coin/stamp forum or your local coin/stamp dealer. Make sure you're not the next sucker of these sellers traying to make a quick buck.

Posted by harrisk at May 7, 2010 3:40 PM
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