Australia Stamps are postage stamps issued in the country of Australia.
Prior to 1901 stamps issued from Australia were from the six governing colonies; New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, Southern Australia and Queensland; all of which had their own postal system from 1850 onwards. In 1901 all these postal organisations became amalgamated into Australia Post although a uniform postal series meant that the individual territory stamps were still valid. In 1966, after the introduction of decimal currency this was no longer the case.
The first stamp released with bore the name 'Australia' was the Roo stamp, a red 1 penny stamp of a kangaroo and Australian map which was issued in January, 1913. Many collectors consider this to be when Australian philately begins. Significant dates in the the country's postal history include the 9th May, 1927 when the first commemorative stamp was issued marking the parliament House in Canberra and November 1957 when the first Christmas stamp was issued. 1929 saw the release of the first specialised Airmail stamp and self-adhesive stamps were released in 1990.
Australia has also released some joint issue stamps with a variety of countries including new Zealand, the UK, Singapore, China and the US.
Information for collectors
The Australian Philatelic Society offers a plethora of information for collectors including information on auctions and exhibits.
Shops which specialise in Australian Stamps include:
- Glen Stephens Specialising in rarities and one of the leading stamp dealers in Australia.
- Steve Irwin Stamps UK-based – covering a wide range of stamps and related items from Australia and Australian territories.
- Sydney Philatelics Range of over 38,000 stamps available.
- Australia Post For current collections, souvenirs and gifts.
The most valuable Australian stamp today is the Inverted Swan. The Black Swan stamps were initially issued in 1854 but in 1855 a printing error meant that 388 stamps were produced with the wording ('Postage' and 'Four pence' written upside down). There are thought to be only 15 left in circulation today with three in museums in Dublin, Britain and Sydney. Prices have varied with its retail value fluctuating. In a 1980 auction it sold for $80,000 and in 1983 one was sold below the expected price of $60,000 for just $37,500.
Other notable stamps include:
- 1882 Queensland Six Pence – part of a set this issue stamp has a misspelling of 'pence' ('penge') . There are thought to be only 16 and the most recent was auctioned for a sale price of $44,000
- Sir Charles Kingsford Smith stamp – A series of stamps featuring the Australian aviator were sold in 2009 for $6,500 by Auctioneer Charles Leski in Melbourne.
- Two 1930 tête-bêche King George stamps, (joined upside down) sold for a record $130,000 at Spink Auction House in London, 2003 – the previous record price for an Australian Commonwealth philatelic item was for a strip of 3 brown 2/- Kangaroo stamps which reached $48,300 in an auction held in Melbourne in 2001.
- An Australian 1909/12 stamp booklet containing 240 1d stamps was sold for $26,621 in 2003 (Premier Auctions, Melbourne) - a world record for a stamp booklet.