An 1850's example of one of Australia's first postage stamps. The 3d Sydney View.
lead up to Federation, and what came before...
The collection of mostly British Colonies known as Australasia
included islands such as Fiji and New Zealand. Today, this same geography is known
collectively as Australia and Oceania . Some Australasian Colonies began issuing their own
stamps from 1850. Each Colony, according to its needs, printed, or had printed for them,
designs and denominations of their own choosing. Naturally, Colonial stamps were not
valid for use in other Colonies of Australasia. Of course, it was valid to post letters
between colonies, but it was fraudulent to use the stamp of one colony in another. The
obvious reason for this was that not only each Colony had widely divergent rates a for a
given service, but each colony, in effect, was a separate country! Western Australia for
instance had a 2d local postage, while some others adopted a 'universal' penny postage.
Each colony derived its own income from its own postage.
Between 1850 and 1890, many of the
colonies achieved self government. By the 1890s many of the colonies of Australasia
were moving towards sovereign independence from Britain. Many saw it in their own self
interest to federate. The Federation of Australian States, later known as the Australian
Commonwealth, came into being on New Years Day, 1901. It consisted chiefly of all five
mainland Australian colonies, viz . Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia,
Queensland, and New South Wales, and the island of Van Diemens Land (Tasmania). Norfolk
Island was administered by New South Wales, and the Northern Territory by South Australia.
The fact that such a huge and diverse area would federate, was a remarkable event in
itself. It was by no means certain that Western Australia would join, and, it was a
surprise to many that New Zealand did not.
At Federation in 1901, there was no change to the existing
postal arrangements or rates that each former Colony had in place. For reasons explained
later, each state continued issuing only its own postage stamps (just as before), at the
same differing postal rates, and only valid in its own state (just as before).
|A most beautiful NSW Charity issue (also valid for postage). Typical of
many Colonies in the decade before Federation. It is worth observing that the printing
technique used for producing it is now lost. The equipment to produce this type of
printing no longer exists.