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    

Western Australia - Really Nice Old Album Page With Stamps Front And Rear - FineAustralia Kangaroo 5/- Grey & Yellow 1st Watermark Used Centred UpNew South Wales 1856 Used 6d Vermilion & Blue ? Sg ? Western Australian Swans S.g. Type 1....2d Orange...4d Blue ImperfWestern Australia 1854 Used 4d Blue Sg3 Tilted Border Cat £1400 4 MarginsSouth Australia Used Collection To 10/-Australian States - Western Australia - Old Junky Lot Of SwansKangaroo £1 Grey 3rd W/m "registered Cancel" High Cat Value Sound StampUsed Kgv Collection Of 2921 Stamps In A Stock Book - Huge CvAustralian Decimal Collection 1966-1996 100 Pages In Stanley Gibbons Album Mint 7650aj Australia Mint And Used Stamp Collection Incl 'hellbraun' Album - View ??Western Australia 1855 Used 1/- Grey Brown Sg6 Cat £1100Australia 1915 Censored War Mail To Germany - Undeliverable Dead Letter....s1220Navigator £2 King "pristine" "mint Unhinged" "fresh"! Australia 1854 Maritime Prefila Folded Cover To Gb Mauritius...............a5714Australia / Nsw - 1850 2d Indigo Sydney Views (plate Ii, Early Impression), UsedAustralia / Wa - 1854 1d Black Swan, Imperforate With Swan Watermark, Used 4d Orange Kangaroo ~ Cancelled To Order ~ "de 3 13" ~ Acsc 15wb ~ 2013 Cv $100South Australia Used Collection To 2/-Australia / Wa - 1860 2d Orange-vermillion Swan, Imperforate With Swan WatermarkRoo Fu Chestnut And Blue 3rd Wm Comprehensive Catalogue Cv - $2,850Roo Fu 5s Grey & Yellow 2nd Wm Cv -$7552014 Overprinted Remembrance Uncirc $2 Poppy Pnc €Victoria 1855 Used 6d Too Late Lilac & Green Sg33 Cat £250Roo Fu £1 Grey C Of A Wm - Well CenteredAustralia Kangaroos 1st. Wmk To 5/- Used Etc On Two Album PagesRoos - First Wmk 4d 'orange'' Muh Sg 6[60045] Australia 1912 High Kangaroos 5s Mint Regummed Very FineNystamps Australia Stamp # 55 Mint Og H $1050Western Australia; 1854 Sg3a 4d Blue; Fine Used; 4 Margins; Perth Numeral Cancel1931 2d & 3d Kingsford Smith Opt Os Superb Muh, Scarce!!Western Australia 1860 Used 2d Vermilion Sg ? 4 Margins Just ?Nwpi Registered Cover With Good Frankings, Scarce!!Australia Quality Premium Recent Kiloware 70c With Many 70c Stamps Included3rd Watermark Kangaroos ~ Nwpi (north West Pacific Islands) ~ Lovely SelectionNystamps Australia States Victoria Stamp # 1a Used $1000Victoria 1854 Used 2/- Dull Bluish Green Sg35 Cat £190 4 MarginsAustralia 1d Red Kangaroo Die 11 W/m Sideways Acsc 3aa Cv $500 See DescriptionNsw 1897 Consumptive Home Genuine Set Mh.Australia Sc #73a / Sg #91 - 4d P14 Wmk Small Crown & Multiple A Mnh Og $300Western Australia; 1854 Sg3a 4d Blue; Fine Used; 4 Margins; Cat £250Australia / Wa - 1865 1/- Green Swan, Perf. 12Australia / Nsw - 1854 1/- Rosy Vermillion Diadem, Imperforate With '57' CancelAustralia R Cover 1926 Enmore Nsw To Soerabaja Netherlands Indies1959 5/- Cattle "rare" White And Cream Paper Sg 327 & 327a £100 Mint UnhingedAustralie Queensland 1911 Used Postal Stationery Cc Oakey..................a5799New South Wales 1871 Telegraph Mint Mounted 1d Sgt1 Cat £150New South Wales 1890 Used 20/- Blue Perf 11 Sg264a Cat £90 Superb CancelAustralia 1938 £1 Bluish Slate Robes - Chalky Paper- Sg 178 Cat £70+ Muh"arms" £2 Specimen "extremely Rare" Only 3360 Printed "mint" GemSa Optd 'specimen' Selection Of Seven Values, Sa4Nystamps British Australia Old Stamp Collection Scott Album Page Cv $2000Victoria Australia 1859 Cover To Tasmania SolicitorsVictoria Qv 1854 1sh Registered Rose-pink And Blue Imperf Used Sg34 Cat £190Sa Official Reprint Selection With Surcharges, Sa4Kgv Over 120 X 1d Single Wmk - Varieties Noted, Unchecked For Shades, Dates, Etc4d Orange Kangaroos ~ 1st Watermark ~ Acsc Listed Shade Set ~ 2013 Cv $7401938 Robes 5/-, 10/- And 1 Pound Thin Paper Stamps Used.Victoria 1854 Used 1/- Registered Rose Pink & Blue Sg34 Cat £190Queensland 1907 Used Stamp On Illustrated Stationery To Germany............a5807