Notes from the Past

Western Australia's First Stamp

Western Australia's first stamp was a 'Penny Black' printed by the same company which printed Great Britain's Penny Black.  The similarities end there.  The design of the Western Australian stamp features a black swan, the emblem of the Colony, and a reminder of when it was known as the Swan River Settlement.

Preparations for using stamps were initiated in 1853 although the authorizing ordinances were passed in May, 1854.  The ordinances directed that inland and foreign letters would be prepaid using stamps starting August 1, 1854, and that the rate on local letters not exceeding ½ oz. was 1d.

An order was placed for 1d. stamps with Perkins, Bacon & Co.  The die was engraved by William Humphrys who engraved many other British Colonial stamps.  The sheets were 240 stamps in twenty rows of twelve.  The paper was watermarked with swans arranged to show one swan on each stamp.  The stamps were recess printed and not perforated.

At the end of August, 1853, a consignment of 1 million stamps left Britain for Western Australia.  The printing plate, a press, some black ink, and some watermarked paper were dispatched at the same time so that further printings of the stamps could be made when required.  Although the arrival seems not to have been recorded, the stamps were available for issue on the August 1, 1854, in accord with the ordinance.

Posted November 5, 2000

Editor's Note:  I have willingly excerpted (almost plagiarized) this from Stamps Day By Day, L. N. and M Williams. Blandford Press Ltd, 1950.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

Note:  If the link isn't returned the first try, try again.

Comments? Send me an e-mail
Please include a reference to this item.