From time to time the question is raised of the present postal validity of Australian colonial postage stamps bearing the words “Stamp Duty”, “Revenue” or “Postage and Revenue”; or of other stamps which before Federation may have been authorized for both postal and duty usages.
The present position, and one which has obtained for some 60 years, is that Colonial stamps (with the exception of South Australian stamps) bearing any inscriptions suggesting that they might be used for stamp duty have no postal validity in Australia today.
Stamps of Colonial types, bearing the names of the States and issued after Federation under the authority of the Commonwealth Postmaster–General’s Department, whether or not the design included the inscription “POSTAGE”, continued to be valid postally. The unusual position of South Australian stamps inscribed “POSTAGE AND REVENUE” is explained in detail subsequently.
With respect to New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia all issues after 1st January, 1901, when Federation came into being, were strictly postage stamps. Earlier stamp issues of interchangeable status could not then be legally used for postal purposes.
In Victoria, separate postage stamps were provided from late January, 1901, but earlier issues bearing the inscription “Stamp Duty” were permitted to be used for postage purposes until 30th June, 1901.
The methods adopted in the several Colonies to establish the requirement of separate postage and duty stamps differed somewhat and are outlined in the following notes:–Top ↑
New South Wales
For many years prior to 1900 this Colony had a separate series of revenue stamps which were not authorized for postage use. In addition, however, some postage stamps were permitted to be used for revenue purposes. The interchangeability of these latter was discontinued and public so informed by a gazetted Treasury Notice dated 14th December, 1900. This notice intimated that on and after 1st January, 1901, postage stamps must no longer be used for the stamping of documents of any kind which required to be stamped under the Stamp Duties Act. From the date named it was required that all such documents be stamped with either impressed or adhesive duty stamps.
As from 1st July, 1892, by a Treasury Notice on 2nd June, 1892, published in the Queensland Government Gazette, it was required that all duties hitherto payable by interchangeable postage and duty stamps were to be denoted by duty stamps only, a new series being provided. However, an exception was made in regard to the 1d. stamp, the use of which could be continued for either postage or duty purposes. Subsequently, by an Order in Council of 7th December, 1900, published in the Gazette, it was decreed that on and after 1st January, 1901, the penny postage stamp ceased to be available for other than postal purposes and that all duties hitherto payable by penny postage stamps were to be denoted by duty stamps. The Stamp Commissioners were required, under the Order in Council, to prepare and issue a separate and non–interchangeable penny duty stamp.Top ↑
Under the Stamp Duties Act 1886 any adhesive stamp issued under the authority of the Postmaster–General of South Australia could be used for any of the purposes of the Stamp Duties Act except where an impressed stamp was required to be used. As a consequence of this provision, no separate series of adhesive revenue stamps had been provided. Following Federation, the position could not be adjusted quickly. All stamp printing was.then being carried out by the Post Office and some time was required to prepare new stamps to replace those inscribed “POSTAGE and REVENUE” and also to arrange for the separate production of duty stamps. The time factor necessarily dictated the continuance of the “POSTAGE and REVENUE” series so that after 1st January, 1901, they continued to have interchangeable status.
The position was clarified to a degree by the Stamp Act Amendment Act, which came into operation on 24th October, 1902. This provided that only adhesive stamps bearing upon the face the words “Stamp Duty” issued by and under the authority of the Commissioner of Stamps for South Australia could be used for the purposes of the Stamp Act. This had the effect of demonetizing, for revenue purposes, all stamps otherwise inscribed and specifically the “Postage and Revenue” series. These latter stamps therefore maintained postal validity, so far as South Australia was concerned but they were of course by that time Commonwealth stamps. The timing of the Amendment Act was significant as stamps of the supplementary series, inscribed “POSTAGE” only, and replacing the earlier stamps, commenced to be issued about August, 1902, and practically all denominations appeared before the end of 1902. The position, therefore, in regard to South Australian stamps inscribed “POSTAGE and REVENUE” is that their validity continued after 24th October, 1902, as postage stamps only. No action was apparently taken by the Commonwealth Postmaster–General’s Department to vary this status, the fact of issuing stamps inscribed “POSTAGE” only being deemed sufficient to render the earlier series obsolete.Top ↑
Under Section 10 of the Stamp Duties Act 1882 it had been provided that any person might use postage stamps for the purpose of the Stamp Duties Act and, conversely, revenue stamps for postal purposes. This part of the Act was repealed by the Tasmanian Parliament late in 1900 and a new provision made that no stamps made and sold under the authority of the Post Office Acts could be used for any purposes under the Stamp Duties Act. Subsequently, by a gazetted Treasury Notice of 14th November, 1900, it was brought to public attention that on and after 1st December, 1900, postage stamps could not be used for the purposes of the Stamp Duties Act nor revenue stamps for postal purposes. It was specifically indicated in the Notice that the following postage stamps were withdrawn and would be used only for revenue purposes: viz.
- St. George and Dragon … 2s.6d., 5s. & 10s.
- Platypus … 1d., 3d., 6d. & 1s.
- Queen’s Head … £1.
Persons holding any of these revenue stamps were afforded the opportunity of exchanging them for postage stamps.Top ↑
By an Act of Parliament assented to cn 27th December, 1900, it was provided that notwithstanding anything contained in the Post Office Act, no stamp on which the words “stamp duty” appeared could be used for postal purposes. However, use of stamps so inscribed was permitted for postal purposes until 30th June, 1901.
In a notice published in the Government Gazette of 17th January, 1901, the public was advised, by Treasury Notice, that from and after 1st January, 1901, revenue and postage stamps were no longer interchangeable. Revenue duties were therefore to be denoted only by Internal Revenue stamps and postage duties or fees only by postage stamps.
The following article is extracted from the APO Philatelic Bulletin Vol 10, no. 2 dated October 1962 before the introduction of decimal currency. Australian stamps were therefore still in the same currency as the Colonial stamps of pre-Federation days.