Australia Stamps Profile

Australia, a country in the Southern Hemisphere is comprised of the main island, the Island of Tasmania in the South East, and several other smaller islands. Neighboring countries to the North include Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea - Australia is pretty much isolated otherwise with only New Zealand to the South East and few other smaller Island nations as neighbors. Indigenous Australians (Aborigines) are known to have inhabited the place as early as 40,000 years ago. The eastern part of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and population has grown at a rapid pace ever since – it is estimated that the whole country which is slightly smaller than the size of the 48 contiguous states of the United States was less than 500,000 before European settlers came in – by 1900, the population had grown to almost four million. Even now, despite an aggressive immigration program over the years, the population stands at just under 22 million, making it one of the most scarcely populated countries of the world (~eight per square mile). The commonwealth of Australia was formed on 1 January 1901, when the six colonies (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania) became a federation. The colonies issued their own stamps and these stamps were used until 1913.

The first stamps of Australia were a definitive set of 15 stamps with a “Kangaroo and Map” design with denominations from half-penny to two pounds (Scott #1 to #15) released on 2nd January 1913. The issue is significant in that the design does not incorporate any reference to the Monarch as the Fisher government at the time was opposed to the idea. The set is very valuable with the lower denominations valued at a tens of dollars to a few hundred dollars and the higher denominations valued in the 1000s. The two pound stamp in rose & black (Scott #15) in MNH condition catalogs for almost $9000 – Used copies catalog for about one-third while hinged unused copies go for about half that price. The change of government in June 1914 promptly resulted in the issue of short set of two stamps with a KGV & Kookaburra designs (Scott #17 & Scott #18). The KGV stamp catalogs for around $5 for either Used or MNH while the Kookaburra stamp catalogs for almost $200 for MNH and a one-fourth that for Used. From 1914 to 1927, Australian stamp issues consisted of just two designs – the “Kangaroo and Map” design and a slightly different version of the KGV design. Most of the “Kangaroo and Map” stamps from this period are highly valued especially in higher denominations. Many of the KGV designs and certain varieties also fetch a heavy premium.

On May 9, 1927 Australia issued their first commemorative stamp to mark the opening of the first parliament house in Canberra (Scott #94). The stamp catalogs for under a dollar for either MNH or Used. Vertical & Horizontal Imperf Pairs of this stamp exists but is very rare. Those catalog in the 1000s. Australian flaura & fauna along with the Monarch theme dominated the Australian stamp issues for several years. One significant issue outside of this theme was the “Nurse, Sailor, Soldier, and Aviator” design issued on July 15, 1940 in a set of four stamps (Scott #184 to #187) to represent Austalia’s participation in World War II. The set catalogs for around $20 for either MNH or Used. A set of three stamps with a Peace theme followed after World War II (Scott #200 to #202). This set is fairly common and catalog for around a dollar for either MNH or Used.

Australia issued an Arms set of four high-value stamps in 1949-50 with denominations from five shillings to two pounds (Scott #218 to #221). A MNH copy of this set is valued fairly high at around $200 while a Used set catalogs for just $20. Other significant issues over the years include:
  1. A set of two stamps issued in September 1950 to mark the hundredth anniversary of stamp issues in Australia – the stamps (Scott #228 & #229) have the same designs that were used in 1850 by the colonies of Victoria & New South Wales (Queen Victoria & Seal of the Colony respectively). The pair is very affordable and catalogs for about a dollar for Used or MNH.
  2. Two separate issue to mark the Melbourne Olympic Games of 1956. The first was a single stamp issued on December 1, 1954 with a design that combines the Olympic Circles Emblem & the Arms of Melbourne. The issue in dark blue (Scott #277) catalogs for less than $3 for either MNH or Used. The second was a set of four stamps (Scott #288 to #291) in three different designs issued on October 31, 1956. The designs were Melbourne Coat of Arms, Olympic Torch, and a beautiful multi-colored design of the Collins Street in Melbourne across the Yarra River. The issue was significant also by the fact that this was the first multi-colored stamp issue of Australia (production was outsourced). This set is also fairly affordable and catalogs for a few dollars. A lithographed miniature version of the set also exists and that has very little philatelic value, as they were not valid for postage and was of private origin.
  3. The September 5, 1962 issue to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Australian Inland Mission founded by Rev. John Flynn. This stamp (Scott #346) is also very affordable at under a dollar. The stamp is significant also by the fact that it was the first multicolored issue that was printed in Australia. There is a very scarce error variety of this stamp (Red omitted) and that catalogs for around $400.
  4. A set (Scott #375 to #379) of 5 stamps issued in two designs between 1963 and 1965 to honor early European explorers of Australia. The first design incorporates a portrait of Abel Tasman & his ship - the Dutch explorer is credited to have led the first known European expedition to reach Tasmania. The second design incorporates a portrait of George Bass and his Whaleboat – a British surgeon who explored Victoria & Tasmania in 1797. The high-value set (denominations from five shillings to two pounds) catalogs for around $150 for MNH and around $100 for Used.
  5. The Foods set of 1972 (Scott #519 to #522) depicting different basic foods (Apple & Banana, Rice, Fish, and Cattle). The set catalogs for around $10 for MNH or Used. A similar set showing themes of Australian Economic Development was released in 1973 (Scott #550 to #553) and this set also catalogs for around $10 for MNH or Used. The designs show Iron Ore & Steel, Truck Convoy, and Aerial Mapping.
  6. The animals set of 1981-83 (Scott #784 to #800) depicting 17 different animals. The beautiful set is very affordable at around $10. A sister set depicting sea life was also released 1984-86 (Scott #902 to #920) and is similarly valued.

Australia has a well-developed philatelic community and Australia Post issues several philatelic souvenirs and related items to cater to this community. Within philately per se, such items have limited value.


Last Updated: 09/2015.

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