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Federation: The Australian States period. 1901 to 1913

This period is known as Australian State versus Australian Colonial. By definition, any stamp postmarked, or issued, after 1901 is a State stamp. While that broad definition can go anywhere, the practicalities are that this period is identifiable by Federation Watermarks, or, designs only issued after federation. (not all were printed in Melbourne)

A collector can go further and identify shades of stamp, which, by their postmarks, can only have been issued during this time. Eminently collectible, they are not discussed further in this handbook.

This period is also broadly known as the 'book keeping' period. I dealt with that subject in "Predecimal Stamps of Australia". It is worth recapping here, that there was NO difference to the issuing and usage policy after federation. All stamps, even new designs, were only valid for postage in their respective State.

So describing a stamp as a 'State' stamp, is declaring it to have a federation watermark or design.

Some philatelists like to push the barrow and declare these to be Australian issues. They are no such thing. They neither have a common design, nor were they valid any where but the State for which they were intended for.

A paucity of records and material

It may surprise most, that the Australian States period of WA is the least known and the least studied. Inordinately more is known about the 1d black of 1850 and all it's successors than anything about these stamps. Not even their quantities are known. They are all guessed at.

There are two major contributors to this:

  1. There are very very very few records or correspondence kept of what went when. (Assuming, perhaps wrongly, that there were any records).

  2. Most denominations rarely saw postal use.

In contrast, colonial stamps have the benefits of DLR & Perkins Bacon archives. Shipping records. Detailed delivery schedules,  Requests to treasury for releases of stamps,  correspondence, and a great deal of information buried in various museums and libraries around the country. It takes digging, but it's all there for interpretation.

When it comes to actual usage and dating of material, there's not much there. Disregarding the heavy in demand local letter rates (1d and 2d) :

Most denominations rarely saw an envelope. The 21/d staggered on in limited use, as did most of the other mid-range values. The demand simply wasn't there, or, equally, such huge stockpiles of the value existed that further printings weren't necessary.

The higher values were almost exclusively Telegraph stamps, and as telegraphs, they were regularly burned in heaps 'out the back' after being used on the form. The very high values simply fell off the gold bars they were used on to mail from Kalgoorlie to Perth.

There was only a single printing of most denominations.

At least 40% of all printings that were used postally were official punctures making it that rare occasion when collecting perfins in essential in discovering dated materail


Unlike any other period of collecting, even in true Australian issueshan anything else, there was, at best, only a single printing of most denominations.


There are many, many, discoveries to be made.



After federation in 1901 any subsequent printings for all issues, all colonies (now states) were made in Melbourne to consolidate (and save) costs. This did not mean, that suddenly, new plates, or even new wmk magically appeared overnight for any issue. Let alone all issues.

Each state used up it's existing stock first before requesting further printings (this time, from Melbourne).

Some denominations were never used up. Of those that were, some were printed using the original plates, and the rest, had new plates made for them. For the tiny amounts required by WA it must have been a relief to them to not bother further with the production  or supply of postal items. It was someone else's problem.

For Western Australia, the last deliveries from DLR occurred in 1898. There was sufficient quantities of each value to last them into Federation.

There were three main periods of activity for WA.

1902: The change to Victorian Crown wmk on the release of new plates circa 1902, and new high value denominations (largely for the purpose of Telegraph or 'Official Service') rarely seen postally used.

1903 to 1906: No further plates for WA after 1902 were produced. Instead, old DLR plates were put into service., as an dwhen needed.   The reason being, uniform postage was always, just around the corner next year. NO point making something that wouldn't be needed really, reallly, soon.The release on old plates

1906: A change of watermark for those issues

1912: Emergency printings just prior to the release of the Kangaroo series.



 a mixture of already printed stock from DLR together with new plates created in Melbourne were used until the release of the Kangaroo series in 1913.

d: ca wmk DLR printings. Replaced with CrownA wmk Melbounre printings from same plate in 1910

1d: Immediately replaced with Melbourne Plates in 1902 in a slightly larger design.

2d: ditto but same size desig in with wider margins

2d: Never printed in melbourne. in use till replaced by kangaroo.

3d: Finally printed in Melbourne in 1906 from original plates

4d: Replaced by Melbourne Plates in 1903

6d: singleline crowna 1912. Replaced by kangaroo.

8d,9d,10d: new desings and plates

1/-: singleline crowna 1912. Replaced by kangaroo.

2/-,2/6d, 5/- ,10/-, 1 new plates and desings

All Federation plates are 120 on : 12 rows x 10

1d and 2d were dual plates both of which were replaced with another set later



single die create a 2x2 master electro from 4 moulds

120 on plate from 30 moulds of the master electro, to grow a plate


wmk posuition

teh d, 3d and 5d dlr plates were 240 on, and the dual plate 1d and 2d were effectively the same.

this allowed pritnshhets sheets (for 4 plateprinting) to be uised print and trun around so that wmks are equally distributed normal and inverted

the 120 on singel plates of other denoms pre cut sheets in half

crwon single line

used for te 6d and 1/- dlr plates together with a suitabble comb 12x11.5 wm to tail only (knga press)



THIN PAPER dbl line

the 5d last printing (4th) in 1912 always  show sideways head on thin paper (two types of paper) used in the kangaroo press

boty paper types used for 3d, but no comment on 5d

cuase of the single orientation is that the sheets were cut in hafl for the new kanga press, and as such there was nothing to turn around, on the already, 240on plate

apeared in august 1912

half cawmk may 1885 1910
1d wa dec 98 1903
2dwa jan 89 1904
2.5d ca 1892, wa 1901 ca 1901 wa ussued 1901 lasted till kangaroo
3d ca 1882 1906
4d ca 1890 1905
5d ca oct 1900 1906
6d ca 1893 1907
6d wa 1906 1912 single line crwon a
1/- ca 1899 1907
1/wa 1907 1912 single line crwon a



Comb 12.5x12

 2 perforators

13 pins in the comb on 12


line 12.5

dlr plates )half, 3d, 5d had to use this peroforat

some 1d,2d 4d

line and comb diffuclt to distinguws except the sometomes slight wider line versions (one hole too far)

line 11 wo machines rarely used