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 1913 Kgv Roo 5sh Grey + Yellow Wmk Wide Crown Fine Used Sg13 Cat £2001928 3d Blue Kookaburra Miniature Sheet Of Four Muh/mvlh1928 3d Kookaburra Melbourne Exhibition Sheet Superb Mint Unhinged "pristine"! Australia - 1915-1920 - Kangaroo - 5/- UsedWestern-australia 1860 - Imperforated Swan - Stanley Gibbons 27Western-australia 1857 - Third Emission Imperforated Swan - Stanley Gibbons15Australia 1918 Kgv Roo 5sh Grey + Yellow Wmk Narrow Crown Mint Sg42 Cat £275 TnsAustralia 1915 Kangaroo 5/- Wmk 5 Perforated Os UsedRare 1905- Nsw Australia 20/- Cobalt Blue Lord Carrington Stamp MintNew South Wales - 1850 - 1d Red 'sydney Views' - UsedRare 1854- Victoria Australia 6 D Orange Imperf Woodblock Stamp Used Postmark V8New South Wales Set Consumptive Home 1 Sh & 2/6 Mint 1897 Australia StatesRare 1882- Nsw Australia Strip Of 4 X 8 D Yellow Large Diadem Stamps Muh Inv W/m1929 5/- Grey And Yellow, Small Multiple Watermark, Cancelled To Order, CtoAustralia 19th Century Onwards In 64 Sided Stockbook, 99p Start, All PicturedRare 1860- Nsw Australia 8 D Bright Yellow Large Diadem Stamp Mint (no Gum)Mint Australia Kangaroo Large Os 10- Shillings StampRare 1934- Gutter Ash Imprint Block Of 4 X 1/6- Dull Claret Hermes Stamps Mvlh1938 £1 Robes, Thick Paper, UsedAustralia 1915 - 1928 Kangaroo 5/- Grey / Yellow Value Mounted MintWestern Australia 1854/55 - Imperforated Swan - Sg 3a1942- Australia Block Of 36 X 6 D Brown Kookaburra Stamps Muh4 Pages Of Pre-decimal Stamps At Least 20 Full Sets 198 Stamps - Mint1850- Victoria Australia 3 D Blue Imperf Half Length Stamp UsedAustralia Mainly Mnh In 64 Sided Stockbook, $300+ (£170+) Facevalue, 99p StartAustralia 1932 10/- Roo #136 Nh Cat $6381888- Nsw Australia 5/- Lilac Map Of Australia Cent Of Nsw Stamp Mint Specimen1931 Kingsford Smith Complete Set Incuding Os Opt Cto.Australia 1915-27 5/- Roo #42a Nh Cat $638Australia 1915 Mint Mounted 9d Violet Sg27 Cat £200 Light HingedAustralia - 1914-1924 - Kgv Heads - Mint SelectionAustralian States Western Australia Collection 13 Swan Values Unused MountedScarce 1901- Victoria Australia 5/- Red & Blue Postage Stamp Cto Cancel No GumAustralia Bcof 1946 Robes 5/- Value Ovprt B.c.o.f. Japan 1946 Mounted Mint1931 Kingsford Smith Collection On Album Page Incuding Os Opt Mint & Used.Western-australia 1854 - Imperforated Swan - Stanley Gibbons 41929 3d Green Airmail Block Of 4 Perforated Os Muh.Rare 1932 Australia Blk Of 12 X 2 D Red Harbour Bridge Stamps Exhibition CancelRare 1966 Australia Set Decimal Navigator Stamps Muh Inc 75c & $1.00 15 Mm TypesScarce 1882- Victoria Australia £1.50 Pink Stamp Duty UsedTasmania 1899-1912 Pictorials, Set Of 8, UsedWestern Australia Numeral PostmarksAustralia / Png,1934, Rare First Flight Letter, Very High Cv Stamps, 24331st Watermark Kangaroos Vfu ~ Comprehensive Die State Set ~ 2013 Acsc Cv $1,250Rare 1857 Tasmania Australia Strip 3x Pale Red Brn Imprf Chalon Head Stamps Used1864- Tasmania Australia 1 D Red Chalon Head Stamp MintScarce 1907- Victoria Australia 45/- Lilac Stamp Duty Used Perf 111928 4½d Violet Kgv, Small Multiple Watermark, Perf 13½ X 12½, Mint Never HingedAustralia 1929 - 1930 Kangaroo 5/- Grey / Yellow Value Used1932 1/4d Turquoise Kgv, Watermark Cofa, 6 Stamps, UsedAustralia 1913 Kgv Roo 2sh Brown Wmk Wide Crown Mint Sg12 Cat £2751950 (?) 2½d + 2½d Embossed Stamped To Order Wrapper, Used1948- Australia Block Of 4 X 5/- Coronation Robes Muh Thin Paper1929 3d Ultramarine, Small Multiple Wmk, Perforated 13½ X 12½, Cto Block Of 41937- Australia Ash Imprint Block Of 4 X 1/6- Dull Claret Hermes Stamps MintCollection Kgv 1d Red X 300 In Bundles 100 X 3 Of Used Pre Decimal Australia#814 Cw Qv 18.. To Qe2 Misc. M/u On 24x Cards Victoria Australia Malaysia StatesRare 1880- Nsw Australia Cover From Balranald To Sydney Advertised UnclaimedKgv Small Multiple Watermark 13.5 1/4 Blue Sg104 Mint Unhinge Retail $775.00 GemAustralia 1913 4d Roo #6a Nh Cat $675