The transition of the Colonial postal systems within Australia into a uniform Federal system was a very gradual process, hampered not only by inherent differences in outlook in the several States but by the political circumstances of the day.
Despite these difficulties, the Postmaster-General’s Department, over the period 1901 to 1912, while still maintaining the six regional postage stamp series and their separate designs, did vary them otherwise to the extent that the stamps lost many of the characteristics of their Colonial origins and acquired a distinctly Federal character.Top ↑
The form of postage stamps to be available to the public within the Commonwealth of Australia after Federation was one of many matters which exercised the minds of senior postal officers, firstly at joint conferences of the several Australian Colonies before Federation, and subsequently over the years until the appearance in 1913 of the first uniform stamp series.
The postal view was that a uniform series should be introduced very shortly after Federation. One recommendation which might have been adopted, if other factors had not intruded, was that all Australian Colonial postage stamps should be declared valid fur use in any part of the continent and issued with the overprint “AC” signifying “Australian Commonwealth”.
The Federal Constitution provided that all postal matters became the responsibility of the Federal government. As a corollary, the new States, erstwhile Colonies, had no jurisdiction in postal affairs. The six separate Post and Telegraph departments were transferred to the Commonwealth on 1st March, 1901, and this amalgamation marked the beginning of the Postmaster—General’s Department. From that date, all postage stamps were issued under the authority of the new department.
An aspect arising in this connection concerns the status of postage stamps issued over the period from 1st January, 1901, when Federation came into being, until the end of February, 1901. It cannot be questioned that such stamps were the products of the Colonial period and were sold by State (erstwhile Colonial) officers awaiting transfer to the Commonwealth. However, as Federation was then in being and the Colonies no longer legal entities as such, having been succeeded by the States which as mentioned had no authority to issue postage stamps, those stamps currently in use had by reason of the political climate acquired a new status – that of Commonwealth issues.
Factually, it must be recognized that the Colonial postal departments continued to function without obvious change when the calendar turned to 1901, but in the broader view and with cognizance of the political background they had become in actuality agents of the new Federal government. From 1st March, 1901, the position is of course a great deal clearer.
During the Colonial regimes, some categories of duty stamps and of postage stamps had interchangeable usage. The necessity of varying this practice so that postal and fiscal revenues could be separated was foreseen, and necessary action was initiated in the several Colonies*. So far as New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania were concerned, the arrangements were made and gazetted prior to the end of 1900 so that from 1st January, 1901, fiscal stamps of those States had no postal validity. The Western Australian gazette notice also stipulated that from 1st January, 1901, revenue and postage stamps were no longer interchangeable. However, as the notice was not gazetted until 17th January, 1901, the status of any revenue stamps which may have been used for postage purposes during the interval is of some doubt.
In Victoria, an Act of Parliament assented to on 27th December, 1900, almost on the eve of Federation, provided that no stamp on which the words “Stamp Duty” appeared could be used for postal purpose. However, the Act then went on the authorize the use of such stamps for postal purposes until 30th June, 1901.
There is no doubt that in Victoria stamps inscribed “Stamp Duty” were so used. The practice was permitted by the Victorian administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department and it is of equal significance that the condition was set out in the Postal Guide of the day.
While it is questionable if the validity of the Victorian Act was maintained after Federation, it is clear that usage of “Stamp Duty” issues was permitted as that Act intended. Stamps which were within the defined category, and they included denominations up to £100, must therefore also be regarded as having acquired Commonwealth status, in the postal sense, up to 30th June, 1901. After that date they were simply Victorian duty stamps, not valid for postage.
South Australia presented a different situation. Its pre-Federation legislation had provided that adhesive stamps could be used for stamp duty purposes and for this reason the Colony did not have a separate series of revenue stamps. At Federation, the position could not be altered quickly. All stamp printing was then being carried out by the Post Office and some time was required to prepare new postage stamps to replace those inscribed “Postage and Revenue”, and also to allow the State to produce separate duty stamps. For those reasons, it came about that after 1st January, 1901, stamps inscribed “Postage and Revenue”, with values up to £20, continued valid for both purposes.
By a (South Australian) Stamp Act Amendment Act which came into force on 24th October, 1902, it was provided that the only adhesive stamps which could be used for fiscal purposes in South Australia were those inscribed “Stamp Duty”. The new revenue series, bearing those words, was then available.
An immediate effect was that stamps inscribed “Postage and Revenue” ceased to have validity for State revenue purposes but their postal status remained unimpaired. About this time, new stamps bearing the inscription “Postage” in lieu of “Postage and Revenue” commenced to appear and within a short time the earlier series was completely replaced, although never invalidated.Top ↑
2. Early Legislation and its Effects
A further reason for the maintenance of the six regional stamp series, advanced by the Prime Minister of the day, das associated with Tattersall’s lottery in Tasmania. He indicated that the retention of the different regional issues would facilitate calculations
as to toe effect on the Tasmanian revenue of the prohibition of communications to the promoters of the lottery. A secondary but very important factor was, of course, the part played by the differing regional postal rates in the overall financial pattern.
The Post and Telegraph Rates Act of 1902 had one other important feature relating LI to the payment of charges in respect of postal articles and telegrams originated by Government departments.
Under colonial postal legislation governmental authorities generally were exempted from payment of postage and in some colonies there was extensive use of impressed “frank” stamps in lieu of postage stamps. The latter system was particularly developed in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. In New South Wales “franks” or postage stamps were not required to be affixed to envelopes originated by government departments and in South Australia it was the practIce to use stamps overprinted “OS”. Alone of all colonies, Queensland government departments were required to use ordinary postage stamps on nail articles.
Other exemptions from postage authorised by colonial Acts were often on an extensive scale. While the Commonwealth Act of 1901 drastically reduced the list of exemptions, it did not cover adequately the position of government departments in relation to postage. As a consequence, the government franking systems of the pre-1901 period continued undiminished and State authorities continued to enjoy the colonial privilege of free postage. Indeed, the franking system expanded still more after Federation and even newly—created Federal Departments continued to use their own franks. The Postal Rates Act of 1902 swept away the franking and free postage concessions and – s from lot November of that year postage was required to be paid so all postal articles originated by government departments, unless they were exempted by particular provisions of the 1901 Act.
The first Federal postal legislation was the Post and Telegraph Act 1901, which came into force on 1st December, 1901. This Act stipulated that the various Colonial Acts relating to the postal, telegraphic and telephonic services ceased to apply. The new Act was essentially a working amalgamation of the earlier Colonial Acts and while it included a provision for the manufacture and sale of postage stamps it made no reference to a uniform series.
This latter point, and the absence of any provision for Australia-wide “penny postage” – then enjoyed only by Victoria – were subjects for criticism in and outside Parliament at that time, and again, more forcibly, in the following year when another postal bill was being debated.
This second measure, the Post and Telegraph Rates Act 1902, became effective on 1st November, 1902. As its title implies, it was concerned with postal rates. Dominantly, this Act maintained in force the six separate rate structures which had been expressed in Colonial postal legislation and which had been continued in the several States immediately following Federation. The only uniform rates which were embodied in the 1902 Act affected newspapers and telegraphs, for which the same scale was applied throughout Australia.
The inability to achieve uniformity of postal rates generally at that time, which might have led to the early provision of a uniform postage stamp series, was due to the far-reaching effects of the “temporary” financial clauses of the Constitution. These clauses had been inserted to avoid dislocation of States’ finances, consequent upon Federation, and the course of legislation was limited accordingly.
The “book-keeping” system which the financial clauses imposed necessitated specific accounts being kept in each State of all moneys received in respect of public services taken over by the Commonwealth, and States were paid large proportions of such revenues according to agreed formulas. Had uniform postal rates been introduced at the “penny postage” level during this financially critical period inevitably some States would have been very adversely affected.
Originally, the financial provisions were intended to continue for five years after Federation, but circumstances brought about extension on several occasions and they were not allowed to expire until 31st December, 1910.
The circumstances of the “book-keeping” system could not allow stamps of the post 1901 period to have interchangeability of use in any State and thus forced the maintenance of the six regional stamp series. It was contended in that connection that it would have been impossible to credit a State with the exact amount of revenue if uniform postage stamps had been introduced because of the tendency of the public to use stamps as remittances and perhaps to purchase them in one State and to use them in another.
A further reason for the maintenance of the six regional stamp series, advanced by the Prime Minister of the day, das associated with Tattersall’s lottery in Tasmania. He indicated that the retention of the different regional issues would facilitate calculations as to the effect on the Tasmanian revenue of the prohibition of communications to the promoters of the lottery. A secondary hut very important factor was, of course, the part played by the differing regional postal rates in the overall financial pattern.
The Post and Telegraph Rates Act of 1902 had one other important feature relating to the payment of charges in respect of postal articles and telegrams originated by Government departments.
Under colonial postal legislation government authorities generally were exempted from payment of postage and in some colonies there was extensive use of impressed “frank” stamps in lieu of postage stamps. The latter system was particularly developed in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. In New South Wales “franks” or postage stamps were not required to be affixed to envelopes originated by government departments and in South Australia it was the practice to use stamps overprinted “OS”. Alone of all colonies, Queensland government departments were required to use ordinary postage stamps on nail articles.
Other exemptions from postage authorised by colonial Acts were often on an extensive scale. While the Commonwealth Act of 1901 drastically reduced the list of exemptions, it did not cover adequately the position of government departments in relation to postage. As a consequence, the government franking systems of the pre-1901 period continued undiminished and State authorities continued to enjoy the colonial privilege of free postage. Indeed, the franking system expanded still more after Federation and even newly created Federal Departments continued to use their own franks. The Postal Rates Act of 1902 swept away the franking and free postage concessions, and -as from 1st November of that year postage was required to be paid on all postal articles originated by government departments, unless they were exempted by particular provisions of the 1901 Act.
The new obligation was not accepted without demur. South Australia wished to continue using stamps overprinted “OS,’ and other States also desired to apply various forms of overprints to stamps of the appropriate regional series. However, the Postmaster-General’s Department would not allow postage stamps to be overprinted in any way and required the series of “OS” stamps then in use in South Australia to be discontinued.
As a compromise solution to assist Federal and State government departments which wished to use stamps distinguishable from those in general use, the Department agreed that stamps might be punctured either with the initials “OS” or with other initials which might be desired by a State. When this new system became generally operative, all Federal and many State government departments used stamps punctured “OS”. But in New South Wales the puncture for State departments read “0S/NSW” and for a time in South Australia “GA” was used. In Tasmania and Western Australia the initials “T” and “WA” respectively were employed by State departments. The practice became varied and underwent considerable change in some cases in subsequent years although at all times only stamps punctured “OS” were used by Federal authorities within the period under review.Top ↑
3. The Development of the Federal Stamp Pattern
The trend to uniformity with regard to stamps evidenced itself almost from the inception of the Postmaster—General’s Department, being first exemplified by the action taken in regard to the postage due series.
Prior to Federation, only New South Wales and Victoria made provision for the collection of deficient postage by means of postage due stamps. In the other colonies ordinary postage stamps were used for the purpose.
This practice had to be altered as regulations under the 1901 Act provided for a uniform system for the collection of fees incurred by reason of deficient postage and included the requirement that distinctive postage due stamps were to be used by the Post Office throughout Australia.
As postage due stamps could be utilized on a Commonwealth basis, and as other factors affecting postage stamps did not apply, no obstacle could be seen to the introduction of a single uniform series of postage due stamps.
However, this principle was not at first adopted completely. The same type of postage due stamp was introduced in 1902 for sale in all States except Victoria, where the local series was allowed to continue until 1909, initially for the reason that in 1902 large stocks were on hand and it would have been uneconomical to destroy then. But from 1909, when the Victorian series was discontinued, the postage due stamps in use throughout Australia were of uniform pattern.
The Department’s efforts to effect some standardization in the denominational ranges of the separate regional series were handicapped by the impediment of the different postal rate structures. Nevertheless, from 1902, many changes affecting values were made. These included discontinuance of surcharged stamps, such as the 7~d., 9d. and 12P. of the New South Wales series, and the introduction of various new denominations affecting all series.
All changes made were considered necessary for ordinary postal purposes. As one example, the establishment of a Commonwealth rate of 9d. for telegram by the 1?O2 Act brought about the need for 9d. stamps in New South Wales and Queensland.
A further field in which a degree of uniformity was brought about concerned the forms of watermarks in stamp paper. By 1902, the Postmaster General’s Department had arranged for stamps of the Western Australian and Tasmanian series to he printed by the State Government Printer at Melbourne, who also printed those of the Victorian series. The change resulted in three regional issues appearing on the Victorian type of paper, but as postage stank s for use in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia continued to be printed in those States, their colonial watermark patterns, which incorporated the initial of the Colony or State, remained unchanged.
In an effort to avoid the usage of so many kinds of watermarked papers, it was decided in 1904 that all stamps should be printed on paper watermarked with the letter “A” under a crown.
Unfortunately, as each of the four printers concerned was allowed to make his own arrangements to secure such paper, the actual forms of the designated watermark differed in each instance in the new paper stocks. Complete uniformity was therefore met attained.
Immediately prior to Federation, Tasmanian and Western Australian stamps were being printed in England and those of the other four colonies in Australia. The Postmaster General’s Department considered, as a matter of urgency, that all stamps should be locally produced and by 1902 the stamp plates for Tasmanian and Western Australian stamps had been transferred to Melbourne and the three separate regional issues there printed.
In South Australia, stamps had been printed for many years by a Stamp Printing Branch in the General Post Office. After Federation this Branch became a Commonwealth office and the officer-in-charge, Mr. J. B. Cooke, the Commonwealth Stamp Printer in Adelaide.
While the Department did contemplate at one time having ether regional series printed in Adelaide, the ultimate decision resulted in the closing of the Adelaide establishment and the moving of Mr. Cooke and a large part of his equipment to Melbourne to fern a Stamp Printing Branch of the Commonwealth Treasury. From 1909, Mr. Cooke continued printing stamps of the South Australian series in Melbourne and at that time also took every from the Victorian State Government Printer, the production of the Tasmanian, Victorian and Western Australian series.
It is important to notice that specifically because of his position as Commonwealth Stamp Printer in Adelaide, Mr. Cooke had been given the task in 1903 of making stamp booklets for sale in each State. He was furnished with supplies of 1d. and 2d. stamps of each regional issue and made up booklets which were sold for £1 each.
During the period under review, some deviations from the general printing arrangements occurred. Sometimes, supplies of watermarked stamp paper normally used for a particular regional series were borrowed and used by a printer of one of the other series. Again, the 9d. stamp of 1903, earlier mentioned, and intended for use in its two versions in New South Wales and Queensland respectively, was actually printed in Melbourne on the Victorian paper. The postage due series used in all States except Victoria was printed in Sydney until replaced by the completely uniform 1909 series printed in Melbourne.
It is convenient at this stage to consider the effect the report of the 1907 Stamp Board had upon the developing Federal stamp pattern. The Board was appointed “to consider and report on the best methods to be adopted to ensure a suitable issue of postage stamps that will be available for immediate use during the bookkeeping period and thereafter for use as an issue for the Commonwealth without distinction as to States”.
At that point in time – late in 1907 – the report was not immediately very helpful. The first recommendation concerned the provision of a uniform stamp series but as this hinged on the bookkeeping clauses, it was not found practicable to proceed on the lines proposed. Other recommendations which concerned the character of the proposed issue – denominations, designs, paper, perforations, colour, sizes of stamps and the holding of a stamp design competition were also incapable of implementation for the same reason, although as will be noted later, they were substantially adopted a few years afterwards.
The Board additionally recommended that postage stamp printing be carried out in the one office under the supervision of an expert stamp printer. At that time J.B. Cooke, the Commonwealth Stamp Printer (who was a member of the Board) was still located in Adelaide. Action taken on this part of the report in the following year culminated in his transfer to Melbourne. Other circumstances dictated that the New South Wales and Queensland series should continue to be printed in those States, a practice which continued until all regional series were discontinued. A further recommendation that the postage due series be standardized and based on the Victorian design was also adopted very soon after Mr. Cooke commenced stamp printing in Melbourne.
4. Stamp Designs
The necessity of maintaining the six regional series following Federation, coupled with other uncertainties which bedevilled the postage stamp position generally, strengthened Post Office reluctance to disturb existing stamp designs which had originated in the Colonial era. Particularly, there were no strong feelings, either within or outside the Department, for the introduction of new designs in the regional series, necessarily regarded as purely temporary issues. It was recognized of course that new designs were essential to the projected uniform series when this could be provided.
At the turn of the century, the designs of postage stamps did not arouse more than a faint stirring of interest in the public mind and only occasionally was the philatelic press inclined to comment upon any aspects of design. The attitude of the several Australian postal administrations before Federation to stamp design matters had not been moulded by public opinion and could be said to be at a level consistent with the character of the times. This condition persisted beyond Federation and in the light of the situation regarding postage stamps it could scarcely be varied by the lesser action taken to alter the basic patterns of the regional series so as to express the Federal view.
It needs to be recalled, however, that most of the designs in the New South Wales regional series had had their genesis in the public stamp design competition conducted for the 1888 centennial series, and a few designs in the Victorian and South Australian regional series had been adopted following later and more limited competitions. That the majority of designs depicted Queen Victoria was in the tradition of the times, and even after her death there was no move (except in regard to £1 and £2 stamps of the Victorian series and some postal stationery stamp designs) to depart markedly from a portrait pattern which had originated with the British penny black of 1840.
While the first Australian Commonwealth stamp design competition did not take place until 1911, it may be observed, as significant of the outlook of some 60 years ago, that the Postmaster General’s Department was engaged as early as 1904 with a public competition for pictorial postcards. The trend towards reduction of the numbers of different designs, and taking expediency also into account, was exemplified early in Federation by the adoption of the design of the N.S.W. postage due series for the more general series of 1902, and later by the use of the Victorian design for the completely uniform postage due series of 1909.
The first entirely new design at the Federal level – and one which was poorly received at the time – was that adopted for the 9d. stamps of 1903 for use in New South Wales and Queensland, the two stamps differing only in regard to the names shown in the base panels. This design was thought in its day to be the precursor of new series of regional stamps of the same general pattern but the principle did not develop, one potent reason being the peculiar difficulties then surrounding the maintenance and printing of the six separate series.
There were of course in the aggregate a few other new designs, and particularly a continuance of old designs with slight modifications, including adaptation to other denominations. Overall, however, if considerations of watermarks, colour changes, new values, perforations and variations of printing methods are excluded, the position can be reviewed in a very few words.
In the Queensland series, for instance, the only new design was the 9d. of 1903 already mentioned, although an existing 2d. design was re-drawn on two occasions. In New South Wales, apart from the 9d. of 1903 the only new introduction was the 2/6d. lyrebird of 1902 and this was obviously copied from an earlier stamp bearing the name subject. The South Australian series was affected only in the “long” stamps where the inscription was altered from “Postage and Revenue” to “Postage”. There were no new Tasmanian designs and in the Victorian series the old designs were very evident, although generally with slight inscriptional modifications. The two major innovations were £1 and £2 stamps portraying King Edward VII and planning for these had commenced before Federation. The Western Australian series was augmented by five high value stamps with designs showing Queen Victoria but these were new only to that series; the same designs had long been used in Victoria and were adapted for Western Australia as a printer’s expedient to provide new stamps quickly. The Western Australian series also gained some new variants of the basic swan design, including two which appeared in 1908 when long-held stocks of 6d. and 1/- De La Rue printed stamps were placed on sale.
Apart from the two instances previously mentioned, the report of the 1907 Stamp Board had no effect on the then prevailing trend of design for the regional series. However, it did echo the Department’s desire for overall standardization of the stamp series and did establish a basis which was followed to a major extent when the 1913 uniform series was being developed.
The ideal concept for a postage stamp series, as envisaged by the 1907 Board, was expressed in its other recommendations which can be regarded as typical of contemporary thought on this subject. The Board envisaged a recess-printed series of 19 values comprising five design groups with three different stamp sizes. The subjects proposed were, in order, a portrait of the King, a portrait of the Queen, a representation of both, an emblematic head or figure, and finally, a design characteristic of Australia. It was proposed that the designs should not be too photographic or realistic “but be in accordance with the traditional and more formal designs to be found in the best stamps.” An important part of the report was the recommendation that a public stamp design competition be held, and considerable care was taken to suggest a set of conditions for the competition. The Board, however, did have misgivings as to whether any satisfactory designs would be received and to overcome such a situation named several “stamp-engraving firms which might then be approached.”
The removal of the bookkeeping clauses late in 1910, as mentioned earlier, enabled arrangements for the uniform stamp series to be put in hand. The first move, following the 1907 Board report, was to conduct a public stamp design competition. The conditions were published in January 1911 and the closing date for the receipt of entries fixed for 31st May, 1911. One of the important aspects of the conditions was that designs were called for a stamp of only one size, the variable sizes suggested by the 1907 Board not being found acceptable taking into account production aspects. While the outcome of the 1911 competition is outside the scope of this article, as it is part of the history of the uniform stamp series, it is of interest that a total of 1,051 designs from 533 competitors were submitted.Top ↑
5. Aspects of Stamp Usage
Before Federation most of the Australian colonial postal administrations had found it a convenience to have available for purchase at their respective General Post Offices a few low value stamps of other Australian colonies, and sometimes also of other countries, so that senders of letters to such places might enclose stamps for replies. The practice, while not uniform from colony to colony, was continued into Federation, for the time being, without change.
Thus, at the G.P.O. Sydney, 2d. British stamps and 2d. stamps of Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and New Zealand could be bought at face value up to an amount of 10d. Beyond that a commission of 2d. was charged on each 5d. worth of British stamps or each 6d. worth of Australian issues. At the G.P.O. Brisbane, British and Australian stamps (the latter not precisely defined) could be obtained, minimum purchases being 5d. British and 6d. Australian with a maximum of 5/-, commission being at the rate of ld. for each 6d. worth or part. In South Australia, 1d. and 2d. British and ld. and 2d. stamps of the other Australian issues were available, the commission being on the same level as that charged in Queensland.
Victoria had more expansive provisions; in addition to British and Australian stamp issues those of France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S.A. were available, with a commission rate of 1d. for each 5d. worth of British or foreign stamps or each 6d. worth of Australian stamps.
While similar facilities may have existed in Tasmania and Western Australia in the earlier colonial period they were apparently not available in the first years of Federation. However, in earlier years most of the colonial postal administrations had issued stamp vendor’s licences to residents in other colonies, so that apart from any official facility it would seen that in most capital cities the appropriate stamps could usually be obtained by commercial houses and individuals who were aware of the local supply source.
As it was deemed desirable to maintain this class of facility at General Post Offices while regional stamp series continued, the Postmaster General’s Department standardized the system by regulation, this resulting in all General Post Offices having available stamps of the other five regional series which could be purchased for face value to an amount of 4d. and beyond that amount on a sliding commission rate.
This regulation did not, of course, confer any extra-territorial status to stamps of the regional series which could still be used only in their appropriate States. The system was terminated late in 1910 when all regional stamps were declared valid for use in any part of Australia.
During the colonial period a practice had developed of utilizing New South Wales stamps in certain Pacific Islands* which were not under Australian jurisdiction, and as a matter of practice these stamps were also employed in Lord Howe Island, a dependency of New South Wales, and in Norfolk Island, technically a British colony but de facto under New South Wales control. Following Federation, the same usage of stamps of the New South Wales regional series was continued. However, a new principle was established by the Postmaster General in May 1907, when in a decision concerned with the cost of carriage of private mail bags for British officials in the South Seas – which bags usually contained private mail to and from local residents in the same island groups – he decided that the cost of transportation should be borne in equal proportion by the Commonwealth and the persons to whom they were addressed, except in cases where stamps bearing the name of a State of the Commonwealth were used in prepayment of postage in both directions when the Commonwealth would bear the whole cost.
The effect of this determination not only encouraged the usage of Australian stamps in those Pacific areas affected but removed the long-held view that only stamps bearing the words “NEW SOUTH WALES” could be so employed. It was now possible to use stamps of the other regional series in such areas, but actually very little such usage occurred because the habit of drawing stamp stocks from the G.P.O. Sydney was retained, and comparatively few travellers carried stamps of other Australian series. As might be expected, however, some philatelic covers illustrative of this new situation were originated at the time.
The bookkeeping clauses which caused the maintenance of the six regional stamp series were nullified by the passage of the Surplus Revenue Act 1910 and as a consequence it was decided that from 13th October, 1910, postage stamps of any of the regional series should be valid for postage in any part of Australia. The immediate effect was not very significant as it was not considered desirable to vary printing and distribution arrangements, particularly as the denominations of the separate series were in line with the differing postal rate structures. There was not, therefore, any large scale usage of stamps of one regional series within another region, although stamp collectors of the day did seize the opportunity to create covers illustrative of the changed circumstances.
The next significant event was the passage of the Postal Rates Act 1910, which came into force on 1st May, 1911, and provided for uniform postal rates throughout Australia. This Act did have some effect on the character of the regional series as it brought about an increased overall demand for ld. stamps, particularly in States where the base letter rate had been 2d. It also affected stamp printing arrangements in some instances and gave rise to new philatelic varieties in ld. stamps. The Tasmanian, Victorian and Western Australian 1d. on 2d. provisionals of 1912 also came about either by reason of the heavy demand for ld. stamps or because of the desire to get rid of surplus stocks of 2d. stamps by means of the overprint.
There was not a clear-cut division of usage between stamps of the regional series and those of the 1913 uniform series. The initial distribution of the various values of the uniform series was spread over several months and issue dates varied considerably in parts of Australia. In some States, sales of stamps of the uniform series were intentionally held back until stocks of the earlier stamps were sold. In a few instances, some quantities of earlier stamps were still in post office stocks as late as 1914.
Reprinted from the APO Philatelic Bulletins – 1966/67