Monday, August 11, 2008

Stamp Issuer - New South Wales (Australian States)

New South Wales, 1882 (Scott #65)
Image courtesy Jay Smith & Assoc.

New South Wales is the most populated state on the Australian continent. It is one of the six colonies that united to form the federation of Australia on January 1, 1901.

New South Wales, or NSW as it is commonly abbreviated, like all of the Australian continent, has been populated by native inhabitants called Aborigines for thousands of years. These aboriginal people lived in almost total isolation from the rest of the world until British colonizing efforts of the late 18th century.

Captain James Cook explored the east coast of the Australian continent in 1770. He claimed the land for Great Britain and originally named it New Wales, although he later began calling it New South Wales.

Following the American Revolution and its subsequent closure as an outlet for British prisoners, Great Britain began shipping convicted criminals to Australia. New South Wales was primarily used as a penal colony starting in the 1780s. The population explosion of Commonwealth convicts led to a serious demise in the health, safety, and opportunities for the Aborigines, seriously threatening their survival. Thankfully, public outcry and prison reforms led to Great Britain ending its policy of using New South Wales in this manner.

New South Wales is home to the city of Sydney, which is its capital and is the largest city in Australia. It is a prime international travel destination and is famous for its modern styled architecture, such as the iconic Sydney Opera House.

From a philatelic standpoint, New South Wales is a difficult country to collect. While postal service existed for many years, stamp issuance began in 1850 and ended in 1907, just a few years after the formation of Australia as a country in 1901. Many stamps, due to their age and scarcity, are difficult to find at an affordable cost.

Further complicating stamp collecting for this country is the fact that there are many variations of the stamps that were issued. Color variations, multiple printing plates, and differing perforations are just a few of the stamp varieties that exist.

New South Wales, 1897 (Scott #B1)
World's First Semi-Postal Stamp

New South Wales also had an interesting policy of printing stamps on paper that was watermarked with the intended denomination. This has led to many stamps of a specific denomination being printed on paper watermarked with a different denomination, resulting in yet many more variations. Many of these varieties are extremely rare and exist only in private collections, so it would be virtually impossible to collect these rarities.

New South Wales also has the philatelic distinction of being the first country in the world to issue a semi-postal stamp, which they did in 1897. The stamp was issued for the Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the the throne) of Queen Victoria and its charitable surcharge went to fight tuberculosis.

There are a few affordable stamps for New South Wales, so you can easily acquire a few representative stamps. But if you choose to collect this country, expect quite a few blank spots in your albums.

Good luck collecting this early British colony!

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