Philately in Australasia

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Early history

New South Cambria was the first part of Australasia to be settled by Europeans, and the first to operate a postal service. By 1803 it was carrying letters and packages from Sednîr to all nearby towns and farms. Letters were charged of 1 ceiniod and packages charges depended on their weight. As was common practice, the recipient had to pay upon receipt.

The service was mostly used by the colonial penal services and by the growing number of their employees' relatives and former convicts who little by little started to settle in New South Cambria.

In 1809 a collecting service was established in Sednîr to receive mail from passing ships. Mail coach service started to operate in 1820, and from then on all settled colony was served by mail delivery.

Meanwhile, the other settled colonies began developing similar postal services.

The first stamps

Due to the spectacular success of the recently invented postage stamp, New South Cambria issued its first stamps in 1848. These had the distinction of being the first stamps issued in Australasia and some of the first outside Europe.

The first stamps were simply Kemrese ones overprinted with the initials "NKO", meaning New Kemr d'ill Ostr (Brithenig for New South Cambria). Later, in 1853, the first locally made stamps were issued, depicting the profile of the Kemrese monarch.

The first stamps issued in the other Australasian colonies were in English Australasia (1854) and in Aotearoa (1855). These depicted Queen Victoria I of England.

Finally in 1860 Kingsland issued its first postage stamps, also with Queen Victoria I's profile.

During the next decades new stamp designs appeared in all the colonies, following the crowning of a new Kemrese king and also stamps depicting local motives, notably animals, landscapes and aborigines people, began to appear.

After independence

Aotearoa: stamp from the Maori Myths series (1994)

In 1901 the newly formed Commonwealth of Australasia became a Dominion within the Empire under the leadership of the Australasian Penal Company, making Australasia a new independent country.

Unlike most of the countries of the world, Australasia didn't issue national stamps, situation which is maintained since that time. The reasons for this are the confederation style of commonwealth governance: each former colony, now province, has considerable internal autonomy, including the issuance of postage stamps. These stamps were (and still are) only valid within each province and not nation wide. But as of 1901, the postage rates were all made the same within Australasia: 1 ceiniod or 1 penny, depending on province.

Between 1921 and 1923 New South Cambrian stamps were issued in bilingual sheets. Stamps with Brithenig and Gaeilg inscriptions were alternated, quite possibly a unique situation in world philately.

With the independence of Ireland from Kemr, in 1923 Guereintia separated from New South Kemr and became a new province. Its first stamps followed immediately. As those from the other provinces it depicted local motives, but did not issue any stamps featuring royal effigies.

In 1924 Kingsland issued the first commemorative stamps, to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Moreton Bay penal colony. Subsequently the other provinces started to issue regular commemorative stamps depicting all Australasian historical landmarks, as well as other worldwide events, especially from the Commonwealth of Nations member states.

The first air mail designated stamps appeared in 1929 and were issued by the New South Cambria postal authority. They had a face value of 3 ceiniods for national use and 6 ceiniods for international use and depicted planes or dirigibles flying over Autralasian landscapes. Soon the other provincial postal administrations would begin issuing their own air mail stamps. These were always very commonly used due to the incredibly large size of Australasia, which favoured the development of airships for the transport of goods and mail.

In 1944 New South Cambria issued the first multicoloured postage stamps in Australasia, to celebrate the accession to kemrese throne of Constenhin XIII. Multicoloured stamp issues would become common in Australasia within a decade.

Both Kingsland and English Autralasia started to make special issues in 1957. They started with Christmas stamps, and shortly thereafter, issuies of Easter stamps were added to catalogue. As usual the other postal administrations followed the example.

Joint issues, stamp issue between two countries sharing same design, began in 1958. Firstly between the Australasian postal administrations of Aotearoa and Guereintia and later, in 1962, with foreign countries, New South Cambria and Fiji.

Since 1966 all the provincial postal administrations have issued omnibus emissions, where the same design is adopted by several provinces, to celebrate the independence of Australasia. Such issues are known as the Australasia Day Issues. Until recent years, the designs of these stamps were chosen by vote among philatelists. Of course, the most populous provinces tended to monopolise the artwork competitions. Currently each year a different provincial postal administration is rotated to be responsible for chosing the designs for the Australasia Day Issue.

Forgeries and Cinderellas

Since early 20th century, the rarest and most valuable Australasian stamps (1848-1880 period) have been counterfeited. Due to primitivity and imperfection of early stamp printing processes, the first stamps always existed with a tremendous variety of variations. This makes it very difficult to distinguish real ones from forgeries, without recourse to modern technology. Some very good counterfeits, printed on old stock paper and using old ink have been made that are very good indeed.

Famous cinderella stamp from "Australasia" (1913)

Early philatelists around the world, anxious for stamps from exotic countries, were often sadly cheated by dishonest stamp dealers and importers who sold cinderellas, fantasy issues of stamps from fictional places or real places which never officially issued stamps. Stamps bearing the inscriptions "Australasia" and "Van Diemen's Land" first appeared in the early 20th century. Officially, neither of these entities ever issued stamps and when first world stamp catalogues were published, collectors worldwide found out they were cheated.

Many of these cinderellas ended up being tossed in the dustbin. These have became in recent years extremely rare and are now as valuable or even more valuable as any real postage stamps!

See also:

  • Official site of the Australasia Government


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