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07 September 2004
16/2004
Commemorative Issue

Treasures from the Archives

Australia
To launch its new series Treasures from the Archives, which highlights items from the national Philatelic Collection, Australia Post has created its first Jumbo Stamp, the size of a miniature sheet. It features the £2 Kangaroo and Map stamp, the hihgest value stamp in the first Australian Commonwealth series.

The 1963 printing of this stamp is shown in a multiple format to represent the unique full sheet of 120 that is held in the national Philatelic Collection. It is on permanent exhibition in the Post Master Gallery.

The script tells of the controversy caused by its design.

After Federation in 1901 it was assumed that "Australian" stamps would shortly follow. But it was not until 1911 that a public competition was staged to provide the first Commonwealth stamp design. Herman Altmann won first prize with an elaborate design featuring a full-face King George V, flanked by a kangaroo, emu, crown and six shields bearing the state emblems. Edwin Arnold was given equal second prize for his design of a standing kangaroo - the one subsequently adopted for the final stamp. Charles Frazer, the new Postmaster-General, wanting "something emblematic of Australia", rejected the winning entry.

Blamire Young, a noted watercolourist, was commissioned. Seeing his designs, all of which are believed to have featured scenes inside an outline map of Australia, Frazer instructed that Arnold's kangaroo be inserted into Young's map and that this be produced in different colours for different denominations.

This design, "not the work of any one person in particular", was released to the public on 2 April 1912 and met with widespread anger (the king's head was absent); ridicule and mockery (a kangaroo as the national symbol!); and distaste (its start simplicity was not what the public were used to on their stamps).

Following a few minor alterations the Kangaroo and Map stamps were issued in January 1913 and within three months all the denominations (including the £2 value) had been issued throughout Australia.

Kangaroo and Map stamp  

Kangaroo and Map stamp

Technical Information

Issue date ......... 7 September 2004
Denomination ....... $5.00
Designer ........... Hannah Mattner, Ethos
Stamp size ......... 105 x 70 mm
Perforations ....... 14.285 x 14.285
Printer/paper:
Gummed ........... SNP Sprint/Tullis Russel
Self-adhesive .... SNP Sprint/B100
Printing process ... Lithography
Sheet layout ....... Modules of ten
National postmark .. National Philatelic Centre, Melbourne VIC 3000
copyright notice: This material has been reproduced with permission of the Australian Postal Corporation. The original work is held in the National Philatelic Collection.
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