Western Australia


Local Lithograph Perkins Bacon De La Rue Commonwealth

Western Australia issued the least amount of stamps of any of the colonies. The reasons aren't difficult. Huddled in the South Eastern corner of a gigantic territory (larger than any country in Europe), and consisting of nearly half the land mass of the Australian continent were a population of around 30,000 in the 1850's. 1/100th the population of Victoria, and ten times it's size. The only reason they were there (initially) was to stop the wicked French doing the same. There was comparatively little postal use and exorbitant costs to do so.

With diligence it is possible to collect a very good, and depending on the definition of the term, 'complete' collection.

There is however a bewildering array of seemingly collectible and desirable items. This resulted from a disproportionate number of collectors studying the stamps of Western Australia relative to other colonies because becoming 'complete' seemed achievable. Once the basic sets were 'complete', it was natural to dig deeper, contributing a much greater knowledge of the nuances of each issue than otherwise. This knowledge has infested major catalogues such as Stanley Gibbons. The purpose of all catalogues is to indicate price of items. Many recorded are one off curiosities which suffered from fame, followed by avoidance.  It leaves the collector bewildered.

In the hope of correcting this, the stamps above illustrate the complete 4-definitive series of Western Australia (disregarding the occasional need for revenue and telegraph stamps)

Local Lithograph Plates

These are self evidently taken from impressions of the (just delivered) 1d Perkins Bacon plate, but altered accordingly. Indeed the sheet with cut-outs used to produce the stones still exists. All lithographs were issued contemporaneously with the almost useless 1d value. These  lithographs were the beginnings of WA philately along with the 1d recess (but are considerably scarcer). Were it not for the fact that steps were taken to perforate subsequent stamps, these lithographs would be virtually unobtainable. As it happened., large quantities of 'obsolete' (eg imperf) issues were sold off in the 1880's as remainders.

Perkins Bacon Plates

The basic swan design never changed, no matter what the denomination. (similar to the 1913 Kangaroo series).

Because of alterations in colour, paper, and watermarks from these plates over a period of 20 years, there is a reasonable amount of collectible varieties to posses. Just like any other colony.  Due to PMG Helmich's chaotic issuing policy, which basically said first in last out, printings from years before suddenly appeared as 'new issues'.  Very often two different colours, two different printers or, two different perforations were issued contemporaneously. Happy hunting.

There are also nonsensical and unjustified listings of no perfs, rouletted perfs, scissored perfs, torn perfs, intermediate perfs, very worn perfs, clean cut perfs, full margins and Somerset perfs. They are dealt with in the proper chapter but essentially, you are collecting either, a fully imperf or a fully perf later derivation. The rest are inferior copies in never ending variations of unsuccessful attempts to perforate them.


The imperfs consist of the 1d black and the first and only printing of the others in the colony. These too were sold off as remainders.

Infinite variations of pin, scissor, and roulette perfs come from here.



The damaged perfs are Perkins Bacon disastrous attempt to perforate same, in London.


The fully perf are DLR's subsequent take over of all things WA

De La Rue Surface Plates

In terms of denominations and different designs, these form a large group of collectibles. Almost all are readily available. All were surface printed and the are either 120 or 240 on plates, or Key & Duty plates to achieve the same result. The same comment re the postmaster for PB issues, also applies here.

Commonwealth Surface printings, or 'State' stamps.

Defined as being printed in Melbourne (due to the use of Federation watermarks), or, the issue of DLR design and watermark that only appeared after federation. The plates used in Melbourne printings could be new designs , copies of old designs, or simply the re-use of dlr plates.

While this sounds complicated, all 'State' stamps are fairly self evident.