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”)

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

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    

West Australia , 4d Swan Blue Imperf Superb Margins Australia - 1914-21 A Reference Collection Of The Kgv 1d Red Smooth Paper ShadesAustralia - 1914-20 A Collection Of Kgv 1d Red Slp, Lm W'mark & Die Iii ShadesThe Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 2000-2010 CompleteAustralia Kangaroo 1The Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 1990-99 CompleteAustralia 1932 5/- Sydney Harbour Bridge Used Cat Value $360Australia Kangaroo £2 Red & Black C Of A Watermark Cat Value $1500Queensland Australia 1882-1910 Chalon Heads High Values 1d To 1/- Blocks Of 4The Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 1981-89 CompleteMomen: Victoria Stamps Classics Collection Lot #4189Australia - 1916-18 A Reference Collection Of The Kgv 1d Red Rough Paper ShadesMomen: Western Australia Stamps #1 Used Xf Scarce Vertical Pair $550++ Lot #4190Very Rare Victoria Australia 5 Pounds Black & Green Stamp Statute Stamp Used***nwpi/new Guinea***kgv Heads***mint Hinged***totoal (10)***Rare 1840- Great Britain 1 D Penny Black Stamp With Red Maltese Cross Cancel.Australia Kangaroo 2/- Brown 1st W/m Perf Large Os Cat Value $500 UsedKgv 28 Muh 1d Red Smooth And Rough Paper ShadesKgv 8 X Muh 1d Red Smooth Paper ShadesWestern Australia 1854 1d Black Swan, Imperforate, Fine Used, 4 MarginsWa 1894 1/-, 2/6 Original Coolgardie Cycle Express - Mng (2)Australia / Nsw - 1856 A Collection Of 14 X 1d Orange Queen Victoria Imperforate1917 10/- Grey & Pink Kangaroo, 3rd Watermark, Used, Light Cancel1932- Australia 2 Pound Black & Red Kangaroo "specimen" Overprint MuhAustralia 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge 5/- Green Cto Fresh Gum MountedAustralia / Nsw - 1854 1d Deep Red-orange Laureates, Imperforate With €Kgv 49 Mh 1d Red Smooth And Rough Paper ShadesMomen: New South Wales Stamps Classics Collection Lot #4180Kgv 49 Muh 1d Red Smooth And Rough Paper ShadesKgv 1931 Cofa Wmk Complete Set Of "8" "fresh & Pristine"South Australia £1 Shilling Fu Momen: Western Australia Stamps Classics Collection Lot #4193Australian States: Nsw 1862 Entire Letter To England (4 Pics)[/05] Tasmania 1855 Sg#15 Used Cv:The Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 1971-75Queensland £15 Large 1882 Chalon Blk Very Clean Inc Both Listed Major FlawsVictoria 6d 'too Late" StampKgv 56 Mh 1d Red Smooth And Rough Paper ShadesVictoria Australia Qv Duty Stamps 1/- To £1 (5) Fiscal Use[/30] Western Australia 1854 Sg#1 Used Cv:Australia 1931 - 1936 Kangaroo £2 Black / Rose Value UsedKgv 8 X Mh 1d Carmine Rose Lmwm The Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 1966-1968Noblespirit~no Reserve~8087/5 Desirable Antarctic 2 Vol. Fdc & Cover Album Colle1932- Australia 10 Shilling Grey & Pink Kangaroo "specimen" Overprint MuhThe Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 1976-80[/11] Tasmania 1853 Sg#7 Used Cv:Aust 1922 Kangaroo & Kgv On Cover L%$k Ip 019/20Queensland Australia 1850 Chalon Heads 1/-, 2/-, 2/6d, 5/-, 10/- & 20/- (6)Australian States: 1856 Victoria To London Cover & Letter By Red Jacket (5 Pics)1918 10/- Kangaroo, 3rd Watermark, Cancelled To Order, Unhinged GumWestern Aust #2 Used - 1857 Brown ($800)South Australia 1902/04 £1 UsedMomen: Victoria Stamps #1 1850 Used £10,000 Lot #4188Australian States: Queensland 1863 Folded Letter Letter To Melbourne (4 Pics)Australia / Nsw - 1852 1d Orange-brown Laureates On Thick, Vertically Laid PaperMomen: Western Australia Stamps #16 Used 1860 $875 Lot #4192Western Australia 1857 Swan Lithographed 6d Grey Black SpacefillerAustralia Small Hoard Of Recent Kiloware With Values To 70c Included2014 Concession Stamps Miniature Sheet.very High Retail.mnh.scarce. Going Cheap