An Australian History Through the Postage Stamp


The history of the postage stamp of Australia, and postal history in general, is interesting indeed as the original, divided, makeup of the country meant that there were 6 separate postal services each with their own, albeit similar, stamps. Enjoy the historical stamps, collected (but not in acid free stamp books) for your viewing pleasure, after the kangaroo-sized jump!

The self-governing colonies of Commonwealth of Australia, formed on the first of January, 1901, were: New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland. They’d each been issuing their own stamps since the mid 19th century and continued to do so for over a century till February 14, 1966.

Image via Wikipedia

Queen Victoria stamp
With the noticeable differences, it must have been easy to identify at first glance where the letter was sent from. Since the founding of Australia’s postal history, Australian definitives (or stamps for everyday use as opposed to commemoratives) have traditionally featured the monarch, Australian fauna or Australian flora.

Kangaroo & map. Image via Wikipedia

The “Roo” stamp
In 1911, the Postmaster-General’s Department held a Stamp Design Competition for a uniform series of Commonwealth postage stamps. Over a thousand entries were submitted and the “Kangaroo and Map” design, as seen above, was the design adopted from the winning entry.

King George V. Image via Wikipedia

George V stamp
Besides the Roo stamp, that was in use for 38 years, the longest running stamp design was the “George V”, released in 1913, which was issued for 23 years.

Image via Wikipedia

With Australia’s extreme biodiversity, it makes sense for postage stamps to feature its unique and diverse range of plants, such as the eucalyptus tree. Unfortunately, many plant species have become extinct following European settlement in the late 18th century.

Commemorative stamps
Early Australian maritime explorers, Australian achievements, and significant landmarks in the country’s history such as “the opening of submarine telephone communication to Tasmania” are among the commemorative stamps – each issued for a limited amount of time.

When you think about independence, and territories loosing their independence to an external force, you wouldn’t automatically assume “postal independence” was what was being referred to. With a handful of territories, the matter of which colony’s stamps were to be used by which territory was important as various changes occurred in terms of acquisition of territory. The “Territory of Papua”, for instance, used Queensland stamps.

Information for this article was taken from Wikipedia.

written by soundfoodaround on 2012-03-12 #lifestyle #history #australia #queen #king #down-under #fauna #kangaroo #commonwealth #postage-stamp


  1. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    Really interesting

  2. soundfoodaround
    soundfoodaround ·

    @djramsay. Thanks! It was interesting doing research for the piece.

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