Postage stamps and postal history of New South Wales

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1850 red 1d stamp; the first issued in New South Wales. One of the "Sydney Views". Around the image is the text "Sigillum Nov. Camb. Aust." ("Seal of New South Wales") with the motto "Sic fortis Etruria crevit" ("thus mighty Etruria grew") underneath. New South Wales 1850 (1st January) 1d red postage stamp.jpg
1850 red 1d stamp; the first issued in New South Wales. One of the "Sydney Views". Around the image is the text "Sigillum Nov. Camb. Aust." ("Seal of New South Wales") with the motto "Sic fortis Etruria crevit" ("thus mighty Etruria grew") underneath.

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of New South Wales, a former British colony now part of Australia.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.


Pre-stamp era

New South Wales was the first part of Australia to be settled by Europeans, and the first to operate a postal service, which in 1803 was carrying letters between Sydney and Parramatta for a 2d charge. In 1809 a collecting office in Sydney was established to receive mail from passing ships, and in 1825 the postal service was expanded. Mail coach service began in 1830, and in 1835 a new Postage Act superseded the 1825 statute and set rates based on weight and distance travelled.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Mail System for transporting documents and other small packages

The mail or post is a system for physically transporting postcards, letters, and parcels. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since the mid-19th century, national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies, with a fee on the article prepaid. Proof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage stamps, but postage meters are also used for bulk mailing. Modern private postal systems are typically distinguished from national postal agencies by the names "courier" or "delivery service".

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

The postmaster of the time, James Raymond, was in communication with Rowland Hill in England and worked to encourage the prepayment of letters in NSW. In 1838, Raymond introduced envelopes embossed with the seal of the colony, and available for local mail for 1¼ pence each instead of the 2d charged letters paid for in cash. They are thus regarded as precursors of the Penny Black. However, the envelopes were not popular, and in 1841 Raymond was unable to develop official interest in postage stamps for the colony.

Envelope packaging item, usually made of thin flat material

An envelope is a common packaging item, usually made of thin, flat material. It is designed to contain a flat object, such as a letter or card.

Penny Black worlds first adhesive postage stamp

The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was first issued in Great Britain on 1 May 1840, but was not valid for use until 6 May. It features a profile of Queen Victoria.

Postage stamp small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage

A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage, who then affix the stamp to the face or address-side of any item of mail—an envelope or other postal cover —that they wish to send. The item is then processed by the postal system, where a postmark or cancellation mark—in modern usage indicating date and point of origin of mailing—is applied to the stamp and its left and right sides to prevent its reuse. The item is then delivered to its addressee.

First stamps

1853 2d blue design, re-engraving of 1855 (plate 3) with crossed lines in background. Stamp New South Wales 1855 2p.jpg
1853 2d blue design, re-engraving of 1855 (plate 3) with crossed lines in background.

In 1842 regular mail service was carried by steamer between Melbourne and Sydney, and the first mail packet from Britain arrived in 1844. An act of 1848 reformed the postal system and authorized the use of stamps; the first stamps appeared on 1 January 1850. They were locally produced, and depicted a scene of Sydney and its harbour, thus becoming known as the "Sydney Views". The 1d, 2d, and 3d stamps were separately engraved, and then re-engraved and retouched over the next year, yielding dozens of varieties.

Steamboat Smaller than a steamship; boat in which the primary method of marine propulsion is steam power

A steamboat is a boat that is propelled primarily by steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels. Steamboats sometimes use the prefix designation SS, S.S. or S/S or PS, however these designations are most often used for steamships.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

In 1851 the colony switched to a more conventional design, a profile of Queen Victoria wearing a laurel wreath, first in a somewhat crude rendition, then a better one in 1853. The colony also took the unusual step of using paper watermarked with the denomination, a practice that resulted in a number of mismatches between watermark and printed denomination that are rare and highly prized today.

Laurel wreath wreath made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel

A laurel wreath is a round wreath made of connected branches and leaves of the bay laurel, an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom or cherry laurel. It is a symbol of triumph and is worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck. The symbol of the laurel wreath traces back to Greek mythology. Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head, and wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions. This includes the ancient Olympics — for which they were made of wild olive tree known as "kotinos" (κότινος), — and in poetic meets; in Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph. Whereas ancient laurel wreaths are most often depicted as a horseshoe shape, modern versions are usually complete rings.

Postage stamp paper

Postage stamp paper is the foundation or substrate of the postage stamp to which the ink for the stamp's design is applied to one side and the adhesive is applied to the other. The paper is not only the foundation of the stamp but it has also been incorporated into the stamp's design, has provided security against fraud and has aided in the automation of the postal delivery system.

Watermark faint image or device in paper that appears as various shades of lightness/darkness when viewed by transmitted light

A watermark is an identifying image or pattern in paper that appears as various shades of lightness/darkness when viewed by transmitted light, caused by thickness or density variations in the paper. Watermarks have been used on postage stamps, currency, and other government documents to discourage counterfeiting. There are two main ways of producing watermarks in paper; the dandy roll process, and the more complex cylinder mould process.

In 1854 the colony issued 6d and 1/- stamps printed locally, from plates engraved by Perkins Bacon in England. These were large square stamps with the standard profile of Victoria wearing a diadem, framed with a hexagon and octagon respectively. The designs were reused for 5d and 8d in 1855.

Shilling unit of currency formerly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, and other British Commonwealth countries

The shilling is a unit of currency formerly used in Austria, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States and other British Commonwealth countries. Currently the shilling is used as a currency in four east African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia. It is also the proposed currency that the east African community plans to introduce . The word shilling comes from old English "Scilling", a monetary term meaning twentieth of a pound, and from the Proto-Germanic root skiljaną meaning 'to separate, split, divide.' The word "Scilling" is mentioned in the earliest recorded Germanic law codes, those of Æthelberht of Kent.

Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co was a printer of books, bank notes and postage stamps, most notable for printing the Penny Black, the world's first adhesive postage stamps, in 1840.

Hexagon shape with six sides

or six sided figure

In 1856 a Perkins Bacon design was also adopted for the lower values as well. The inking of all these was highly variable, and there are dozens of distinct color varieties. The use of perforation began in 1860; unfortunately for collectors, the stamps were very closely spaced, the perforating process not well controlled, and it is unusual to find stamps from before 1899 where the perforation does not touch or cut into the design on one or more sides.

1856 3d green; a perf. 10 version printed in 1891. Stamp New South Wales 1891 3p.jpg
1856 3d green; a perf. 10 version printed in 1891.

The first 5-shilling stamp was issued in 1861, and it was notable for being a round design resembling a medallion. In 1861, new designs were created by De La Rue and printed both in London and the colony.

In 1871 a watermark reading "NSW" surmounted by a crown began to replace the numerals, and in 1885 a need for high-values prompted the overprinting of 5/-, 10/-, and one-pound revenue stamps with "POSTAGE".

1d violet commemorative of 1888, showing a view of Sydney. Stamp New South Wales 1888 1p.jpg
1d violet commemorative of 1888, showing a view of Sydney.

New South Wales celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1888 with an issue of what is widely considered to be the first commemorative stamps. The set of eight, each with a different design, were all inscribed "ONE HUNDRED YEARS". Among the designs were a view of Sydney, an emu, Captain Cook, a lyrebird, and a kangaroo. The 20/- value included portraits of both Arthur Phillip the first governor, and the then-governor Lord Carrington.

A 2½d stamp depicting an allegorical figure of Australia appeared in 1890, while ½d, 7½d, and 12½d values were produced in 1891 as surcharges on existing stamps.

1899 reissue in dark blue of 1897 2 1/2 d Diamond Jubilee stamp. Stamp New South Wales 1897 2.5p.jpg
1899 reissue in dark blue of 1897 2½d Diamond Jubilee stamp.

In 1897 two early semi-postal stamps were issued, paying 1d and 2½d rates, but sold for 1/- and 2/6 respectively, the additional proceeds going to a Consumptives' Home. In the same year a set of three stamps marked Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The formation of the Commonwealth had no immediate effect on the NSW postal system. Although the new constitution granted the commonwealth power to run a national postal service, unification was not immediate. The systems gradually merged during the 1900s. In 1903 a 9d stamp in two colors (brown and blue) was inscribed "COMMONWEALTH" and mentioned the initials of each member along with its year of founding. In 1905 the stamps began to be printed on paper watermarked with a crown and the letter "A", with reprintings of existing designs occurring into 1910.

In 1913 the stamps of New South Wales were superseded by those of Australia; see stamps and postal history of Australia.

Most of the stamps of New South Wales are readily available today, but it is somewhat complex to collect; there are a dozen types of watermarks, multiple perforations, and numerous color shades. While the Scott catalog distinguishes about 200 major types, it calls out many more minor varieties, and the Stanley Gibbons catalog totals some 400 distinct varieties.

Numeral cancellations

Numeral cancellations on New South Wales postage stamps are also of interest to collectors. Ninety-six post offices had already been opened when the first postage stamps were issued on 1 January 1850. Numeral obliterators were allocated to these post offices to cancel stamps on outgoing mail. Sydney itself had no number and used dumb obliterators. The first allotment of numbers was based on the pattern of roads radiating outward from Sydney.

Numerals and obliterators continued to be allocated to opening post offices up to the beginning of 1904 with 2099 (Toolijooa) probably the last number assigned. The patterns of allocation provide a way of tracking the history of settlement of the state, although made complex by re-allocations as post offices closed or jurisdiction was transferred, as happened when Queensland became a separate colony.

Larger post offices also impressed a date-stamp on covers with the name of the originating office. This means that covers or stamps torn from covers or pairs of stamps can be used to tie numbers to mailing offices where official records are missing. Even so, as many as 300 New South Wales numbers are still untied.

There can be many variations of numeral cancellations depending on the type of obliterator used. The first obliterators allocated had horizontal bars. These were followed by "ray" types. The colour of the ink used might also vary. The Sydney obliterators also exist in many variations.

Most collectors of numerical cancellations ignore the stamp itself, which may appear upside-down or sideways in albums or stock cards.

Postal stationery

New South Wales issued its own Postal stationery until the Commonwealth of Australia stationery was made available in 1911. Envelopes were issued in 1838 for local use within Sydney, New South Wales and were used till 1857. Between 1870 and 1911 eleven different envelopes were produced and issued. Registration envelopes were first made available to the public in 1880 and a total of 14 different were produced. Newspaper wrappers were available from 1864, New South Wales being the second postal administration after the United States to issue newspaper wrappers. A total of 12 different wrappers are known. Letter cards were in use from 1894 and a total of 11 different letter cards were produced. Postcards were available from 1875 and, by the time the Australian Commonwealth postcards were introduced, New South Wales had produced a total of 34 different items. [1]

See also

References and sources


Further reading

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