The article below "A Different Perspective - Queensland High Value Lithographs" first appeared in Stamp News Australasia in November 2004.

This was then subsequently picked up by the editor of Stanley Gibbons in the UK who has now confirmed as from the 2006 edition of 'British Commonwealth' the date of issue has been changed from 1881 to 1880.

This history making event is one very small step for the revenue collector but one giant step for finally getting the date of the high value lithographs of Queensland correctly listed after only 125 years.



A Different Perspective

Queensland High Value Lithographs


Dave Elsmore


If you read Stanley Gibbons, Robson Lowe, Bassett Hull or any philatelic publication listing Queensland, they show issue dates on the high value lithographs 2s, 2/6, 5s, 10/- and 20/- printed on the Crown/Q [2nd type] paper as being issued in 1881.  It is this date I wish to deal with. 


The Queensland bible ‘The Postage Stamps Of Queensland’ by Bassett Hull [1930] state quite clearly the dates of issue were taken direct from the government engraver’s books, [page 150].  Further on the same page after listing approval colours with dates, it is written: “These endorsements as to the approval of colour seem to have been taken from the Treasury records, and refer to their approval as duty stamps”. 

This is a very dangerous statement and to use the words: “seem to have been taken” and: “refer to their approval as duty stamps”.  These dates of issue with approved colours was very misleading and taken at the time to be the issued dates, this was wrong.  The notations were no more than that, just notations.

 If you read the notations after the date of 1881 and the words: “Approved colour” it reads:

2/s:    “Only 2/- stamp now issued”  -  This refers to just that the only 2/- on sale in 1881. 

2/6:.  “Only D.S. in use at date” - Referring to the only 2/6 duty stamp available in 1881.

 5/-:  “Only stamp now issued” - This refers to the 5/- rose although stock was on hand at the time.

 10/-: “Only 10/- stamp now issued” - This refers to just that the only 10/- on sale in 1881.

 20/-:  “Duty Only Stamps at present in use 4th May 1881” - this states no more than that: “Stamps at  present in use 4th May 1881”.

I cannot confirm the source of the listing in the government engravers books, nor does Bassett Hull give their source of this information other than: “The dates are taken from the government engravers books”.  The engravers book has since been destroyed.  It is recorded that this series was ONLY then available at the Treasury and not at any post office, which raised the question as to genuine postal usage of any value from this series other than philatelic or par favour.  So let us sort this out once and for all. 




It would be totally impractical for any member of the general public to go to the post office with a parcel, have it weighed and priced according to destination, let us say at a postal cost of 15/-.  This member of the public would then have to travel from his post office to the Brisbane Treasury, buy the 15/- worth of stamps for his parcel, travel back to his post office, affix the said stamps, then have them postmarked and sent.  At this time the post office carried the 5/- no watermark 1866 issue, it would have been logical to affix three of these to make up the 15/-.   Remember at this time both the post office and the Treasury combined their income.

A notice in the Government Gazette, 3rd January, 1880: “The public are informed that from the 1st January, 1880, the issue of separate for duty and postal purposes will cease”.

Immediate steps were taken to provide a series of high value stamps, without any postal/duty inscription.  This was to simplify the dual usage, but it only added to the confusion in the minds of the public who may not have read the notice in the Government Gazette.

Pending arrival of new plates from Bradbury Wilkinson of England for the high value series [later issued in 1882].  The government engraver was instructed to prepare a temporary series.  We know that transfers were taken from the Perkins, Bacon steel plate for the 1s and laid down on an intermediate stone, with hand erasures of the value and the new additions made by hand. They were put to print early 1880 and sent to the Treasury for immediate use.  The approval colours and dates listed on page 150 of Bassett Hull were merely audit notations.

It was at this time 3 sheets of 10/- proofs in different colour shades were pulled.  This and the 2/- were the only proofs prepared from this series, all imperf and un-gummed.  A half sheet of the 10/- manuscripted or hand stamped ‘ESSAY’ in red was known to exist in the post office archives until 25 years ago when it disappeared and its whereabouts is still not known to this day.  I am aware some single copies have come on to the market.  All of these must be treated as suspect.  None of these essay overprints are known to have been included in presentation sets.  Specimen overprints exist in black with the 20/- specimen known in black, red and blue.



With all this information re-looked at in this different perspective we now need the further proof of this new issue date of early 1880.  As a revenue collector of Queensland for over 30 years, I have amassed considerable quantities of this issue, all fiscally used with a few forged postal cancels along the way. 

I have the following early dates from these values.

2/-:     2.7.80.

2/6:    3.8.80, 19.10.80, 25.10.80, 22.11.80, 9.2.81.

5/-:    28.7.80, 28.8.80, 2.9.80, 8.9.80, 11.9.80, 8.10.80, 22.10.80, 25.10.80, 25.11.80, 4.4.81.

20/-:  14.4.80, 28.7.80, 2.9.80, 8.10.80, 25.10.80.

The writer would like to hear from other collectors who would like to comment and may have earlier dates to record.  I can be contacted at E: Dave

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 Dave Elsmore

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