The Commonwealth of Australia has issued a huge number of highly collectible stamps over its long and varied postal history. The collecting of Australian stamps is one of the busiest areas in the entire hobby, with a robust and booming marketplace at all times and in a huge range of niches and subcategories.
The origins of Australian stamps
The six states that make up the modern country of Australia began separately issuing their own postage stamps in the 1850s, when each was a British colony. Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania (and its former incarnation, Van Diemen’s Land) used stamps often depicting Queen Victoria, and many of them also used fiscals and other special stamps. Covers are especially collectible from this period. See individual pages for relevant subcategories of each state.
National postage stamps
In 1901, these states combined to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The stamps of the individual states all became valid for postal use anywhere in the country. The first national Australian stamps were issued in 1913, the famous kangaroo and map stamps (commonly referred to as roos). Stamps featuring King George V followed soon thereafter. Although the federal area of the Northern Territory never issued its own stamps, there have been Australian stamps commemorating subjects related to the NT.
Australia issued stamps featuring a huge range of subjects since the first series of 1913, including other British monarchs (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II), animals, Olympics games, aboriginal subjects, and many, many more. There are the usual philatelic subcategories of collectible Aussie stamps — maximum cards, souvenir sheets, first day covers, minisheets, airmail stamps and covers, and others. There are also quite a few interesting niche categories available for Australian post collectors — cinderallas, stamp booklets and variable-value Frama labels, overprints and official ‘OS’ perfins, error stamps, joint issues with other countries (such as nearby New Zealand), postage due stamps, and others.
For Australian stamps used in the British occupation of Japan following World War II, check the BCOF overprint section. There are also many stamp and postal cover collectibles for the Australian Antarctic Territory, a particularly interesting area of Australian philately.
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