Status: 1850-1901, Crown Colony
Stamps Issued: 1850-1913
Current Status: Australian State
Location: South-eastern Australia
Current Population: 5,500,000
- 1770: British explorer James Cook makes first European sighting of the area, naming it New South Wales.
- 1788: First British settlement established, a penal colony.
- 1850: First stamp inscribed Victoria issued, a year and a half before Victoria officially becomes a colony.
- 1851: South area of New South Wales separates and becomes the colony of Victoria.
- 1901: Joined the Commonwealth of Australia, January 1, continuing to issue its own stamps.
- 1902: Australian postage due stamps first used in Victoria.
- 1913: Australian postage stamps first used in Victoria.
- 1914: Victorian stamps withdrawn from sale.
The earliest stamps of Victoria were designed and printed locally, unlike most of those for other British colonies of the time, which were produced in England. This led to rather simplified designs of varying quality, but produced some very beautiful stamps which have become much sought after classics in the philatelic world.
The first stamp was issued in January, 1850, and became known as the Half Length. The first value was a one penny stamp, orange-red in colour. Two other values were subsequently released over the next couple of years, 2 pence and 3 pence. Due to different printings, printers, dies and inks, many different collectable varieties exist.
The second Victoria stamp design is known as The Queen-on-Throne, issued in 1852. Thomas Ham was commissioned to engrave and print this stamp, with a full length portrait of Queen Victoria sitting on the throne being the adopted design. Each stamp in the sheet of 50 is unique, as a combination of two letters was engraved on each stamp, identifying each position on the plate.
Another oddity of this stamp is that the name of the colony, Victoria, was not inscribed on it, like the earlier Half Lengths.
The postmark on the stamp shown is known as a Boot Heel cancel, another unique postal item that is identifiable with Victoria. In the center of the cancel is a number over the letter “V”. The number identifies the post office – it appears to be a “37” on my stamp. If so, I do not know it’s origin. Some known Boot Heel examples are “1” for Melbourne, “2” for Geelong and “19” for Hamilton.
Many other interesting stamps were issued by Victoria until 1913, when they were replaced by stamps of Australia.