Australian stamps can be divided into two general periods: those printed when Australia was a collection of six British colonies, and those printed after 1912, when control of the postal system was centralized almost a dozen years after the colonies had gained their independence from Great Britain to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The first Australian colony, New South Wales, issued prepaid embossed letter sheets in 1838, a full year-and-a-half before similar products were introduced in England. Adhesive stamps, though, came a decade after the debut of the Penny Black in London, but like those British stamps, the ones in New South Wales featured a portrait of Queen Victoria.

Stamps labeled “Van Diemen’s Land” were issued between 1853 and 1857, by which time the island south of Australia’s southwestern-most tip was known as Tasmania, named for the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who was the first European to spot it (for the record, it had been inhabited for tens of thousands of years). Tasmania stamps are interesting to collectors because they were the first to deviate from the practice of portraying British monarchs. From 1899 to 1912, Tasmanian postal official issued stamps showing off the natural wonders of the island in a series of pictorials based on the photographs of John Watt Beattie. Postal rates across Australia were unified in 1913, which brought an end to the former colonies’ practice of issuing their own unique stamps.

Probably the most iconic stamps of the early Commonwealth years are the kangaroo-and-map stamps, which appeared in 1912. While the stamp seems innocuous to 21st-century eyes, at the time it was used as a political football by Conservatives, who ridiculed the ruling Labor party’s Postmaster-General, Charles Frazer, for his childish design. There was also outrage in some quarters over the white Australia-shaped background, which Frazer openly described as indicative of “the Commonwealth’s policy in regard to its population.” Over the next few decades, the kangaroo would come and go depending on which party was in power, replaced by formal portraits of British Kings.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Australia , 1932 , Harbour Bridge 5sh. Fine UsedAustralia , 5 X Stamps , Fine Used , Perfin O.s. Rare 1902 South Australia 50/-- Metalic Green & Green Duty Stamp UsedAustralia , Kangaroo , 10sh. 1915-1928 , Fine Used , Perfin O.s. Australia 1932 5/- Green Harbour Bridge Sg 143 Cat £200 VfuNew South Wales 1850's/1900's Collection Used To 5/-2006 Australia Melbourne Commonwealth Games Pnc With 3 Medallions And 3 StampsSyria Tanzania Tasmania 1871-1965 Lot Of 78 Collection On Harris Album PagesKing George V Heads, Complete Collection Of 72 Stamps As Per Seven Seas, UsedSouth Australia Sc#1-70 Southern Rhodesia Sw Africa 1924-61 Lot Of 71 On HarrisAustralia States Stamp Collection In A Stockbook - Useful Ranges (12 Photos)Australia , 6 X Stamps , Fine Used , Overprint O.s. Australia 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge Mint Stamp Set Incl Sg143Victoria State Australia 1850 1d And 3d Various TypesAustralia , Kangaroo , 5sh. 1929-1930 , Fine Used , Wm 7Victoria 5/- Sg139Australia, 100's Of Stamps Hinged In A Scott Specialty Album/stockcards(3)Australia 1915 Kgv 4d Orange, Single Wmk, 1 Bundle Of 100 (100 Stamps)Sg 13 New South Wales 1d Carmine. Fine Used Four Margins. Clean Reverse Cat £600Viet Nam Victoria Western Australia 1867-1968 Lot Of 83 Stamps On Harris AlbumAustralia 1915 Kgv 1/2d Green, Single Wmk, Bundle Of 100 (100 Stamps)1850-57 3d Half-length, Good "33" Butterfly Cancel, Stamp With ThinAustralia , Kangaroo , 2 Pound 1915-1928 , Mounted Mint , Ovpt. Specimen , Wm 62Sg 1 Queensland 1d Carmine Rose Very Fine Used, Four Fine Margins Cat £800Australia 1915 Kgv 1/2d Green, Single Wmk, Perf Os, Bundle Of 50 (50 Stamps)Australia 1931 Kingsford Smith Official Os Set With Bpa Cert 3d Fault1931 Flights Of Kingsford-smith O.s. Pair 2d Red And 3d Blue Fresh ***mint***1st Watermark 1913 Kangaroos ~ "on His Majesty’s Official Service" ~ Cv $1,000+1928 Australia Melbourne Philat Exhbtn Block 4 X 6 D Blue Kookaburra Stamps MintAustralia 1938 Cover With Kgv Imprint Block Of 4Australia , Kangaroo , 5sh. 1915-1928 , Fine Used , Perfin O.s. South Australia, Collection Of Early Classic Stamps To 2/6, Australian States1d Red Kgv "ny Joined" Variety - Scarce On 1d Red - Cat $200, Used1898 Australia Tasmania Hobart Cancel Registered Cover To Usa1932 5/- Harbour Bridge Rare 72800 Printed "fresh" Centred Premium Example Rare 1882 Queensland Australia £1 Deep Green Large Chalon High Value Stamp Mint1915 9d Violet Kangaroo, 2nd Watermark, Mint HingedDrbobstamps Australia Os Perfins To 10 Shilling Very Scarce Stamp CollectionAustralia , Kangaroo , 1 Pound 1923-1924 , Mounted Mint , Ovpt. Specimen , Wm 62Tasmania 1853 4d Orange Used, No ReserveAustralia 1918 Kgv 5d Brown, Single Wmk, 1 Bundle Of 100 (100 Stamps)1926-30 Australia Sg93 1s4d Pale Blue Kgv Head Wmk7 Fine Mint Cat £120Australia , 6 X Stamps , Fine Used , Perfin O.s. Pk. 258. Fine Commonwealth Accumulation. Mint And Used. A Nice, High Cat Lot.Rare 1860- Nsw Australia 8 Pence Orange Yellow Large Diadem Stamp Mint2nd Watermark Kangaroo Stamps ~ Scarce 1915 Issue ~ Official Service ~ Cv $880+Sg 1 1c Black. Very Fine Used Full Margins Cat £275Rare 1929 Australia Cover To Philippine Islands "oesch Cover"Rare North Borneo Cover With 2 X Japanese Occupation Overprints (type 4 )Australia 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge Set (inc 5/- Green) UsedAustralia New South Wales 1850 3d Yellow-green Sydney View Sg42 4 Margins ThinAustralia 1922 Kgv 1d Violet, Single Wmk, Bundle Of 100 (100 Stamps)1931-36 Australia S124-131set Of 8 Kgv Heads To 1s4d Wmk15 Fine Mint Cat £120Australia - Extensive Stamp Collection In A Stockbook Inc 100+ Roos And HeadsAustralia 1918 Kgv 1/2d Green, Large Multi Wmk, Bundle Of 100 (100 Stamps)S.a. 2d Dlr Wm 10 & Departmental Overprint Cs - Chief Secretary1929 Australia 4 D Olive Kgv Stamp Os Overprint Muh1948 £2 Arms "mint Unhinged" Extremely Scarce "superb"Australia Mint Heads Collection Taken From A Very Old Album1898 Australia Queensland Registered Cover Via Canada To Usa