Now is the perfect moment for collectors to consider the postal and philatelic history of the ‘Australian States’. One that reflects a rapid period of socio-economic development occurred between 1850–1901. It stands independently in the philatelic history of Australia, currently attracting renewed attention and interest from international collectors. Despite the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, the six ‘Australian States’ of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria continued to issue their own postage stamps until 1913. Each offers the philatelist an opportunity to discover unusual and rare examples and the chance to examine interesting material including items that are still only now being discovered.
The first stamps of New South Wales were issued in 1850 and are known as ‘Sydney Views’; Queensland’s first were issued in 1860 depicting the ‘Chalon’ portrait of a young Queen Victoria; South Australia’s first stamps, issued in 1855 are generally known as the ‘Diamen’ issues; Tasmania’s first stamp was issued in 1853 and is known as the ‘1d Courier’; Victoria’s first stamp was issued in 1850 and is known as the “Half Length”; Western Australia’s first stamp was issued in 1854 and is known as the ‘Black Swan’.
Having retired, many Australians are returning to philately. They now have more time and the resources to rekindle their childhood interest. Others are intrigued by the history and excited by all that is happening in Australia. The ‘Australian States’ are a complex, though rewarding specialist area where the stamps themselves form only part of what collectors want and where ‘Specimens’, unusual watermarks, printing errors, colour variations, rare postmarks often from remote towns in this vast country, all generate interest and the source of many interesting books and articles on the subject. The stamps of the individual ‘Australian States’ proudly display their state symbols and are otherwise easily identifiable. They are, nevertheless, an integral part of all that followed.