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Postage stamps and postal history of Victoria

A Registered mail stamp, December 1854.
A 2d stamp of an 1885 design, inscribed "STAMP DUTY" and used in 1899.

Victoria, a state of Australia and formerly a British colony, was still under the control of New South Wales when its first post office was opened, at Melbourne in April 1837. Offices at Geelong and Portland opened soon after, and by 1850 there were fifty post offices.[1]

First stamps

Victoria's first postage stamps appeared on 3 January 1850. Engraved and lithographed locally by Thomas Ham of Melbourne, they featured a half-length portrait of Queen Victoria seated, holding orb and sceptre. There were three values: 1d in orange-vermilion, 2d in lilac-mauve, and 3d in blue. The dies were altered several times during printing, yielding dozens of minor variations.

As Victoria continued to be considered part of New South Wales, the new stamps were apparently accepted along the existing NSW stamps.

Damage to the 2d die prompted Ham to produce a new design, this time showing a full-length portrait of the queen seated on the Coronation Chair (although the design is traditionally described as "queen on throne"). As with the first design, many varieties and shades are known.

With the exception of a Perkins Bacon version of "queen on throne" in 1856, subsequent designs reverted to the profile bust typical of British stamps of the time. Multiple designs, colors, papers, perforations, and watermarks resulted in a large number of different stamps; Stanley Gibbons identifies nearly 200 types issued between 1854 and 1883 alone.

The Postage Act 1883 made postage, duty, and fee stamps interchangeable, and as a result, the government decided to issue only one type of stamp subsequently. More types of duty stamp dies were available than any other, so from that point new issues were all inscribed "STAMP DUTY". As they continued to be used as revenue stamps, high values were printed, up to 100 pounds. The stamp duty inscription was dropped in 1896.

Victoria issued semi-postal stamps in 1897 and 1901, in the first instance the extra income went to a hospital fund, and in the second, to a Boer War Patriotic Fund.

Like the other colonies, after federation Victoria continued to issue its own stamps. In 1901, King Edward VII made an appearance on 1- and 2-pound stamp, his only stamp depictions by Victoria before its issues were superseded by those of the Commonwealth in 1913.

See also

References and sources

  1. ^ Rossiter, Stuart & John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald, 1986, pp. 181-182. ISBN 0-356-10862-7
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