Judging Queensland Railway Parcel Stamps 1867 – 1915

At FIP World exhibitions.



Dave Elsmore


This is the first in the series of ‘Let’s Educate the Judges’ in evaluating the exhibits of the Australian States Revenue and Railway Stamps. 

Judging Queensland Railway Parcel Stamps in the traditional philately class can be a hard task indeed, as very little specialist literature is available to the judges and in some cases it is outdated.

This paper is not a critique: it is written to guide the judge. I offer my 40 years of knowledge seriously collecting Queensland Railway Parcel Stamps. 

Queensland was the first Australian State to issue parcel stamps in 1867. The first issue is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of any of the worlds parcel stamps.

The exhibit must show the 1867 unfinished essay with the Bell head either in black or issued colour, and the finished proofs in issued colours.  A handful of each exist, along with the issued stamps.  Mint copies are available, but the 2 shilling used [fig 1] only has 3 recorded.   One station precancelled the 2 shilling with ‘one’ shilling, again only a handful exist, all used.

Fig 1

1867 Issue

The 1880 series [fig 2] is almost impossible to find.  It has 2 issues, of which only a handful exist to 3/-. With 1 set known manuscripted ‘cancelled’.  It is important to see the exhibitor has explained the 2 issues of this series. It is to be considered very high standard for an exhibit to have 2 or more of this issue.

Fig 2

1880 issue

The 1894/6 series [fig 3] [no watermark & watermark] should show ‘specimen’ overprints and the ‘CTO’ black ring, which was included in parliamentary privilege sets. A short study of the transfer mould would increase knowledge, which can be done with the 3d value only.  Also a study on the newspaper obliterators [fig 4] would enhance. The broken cabin roof is on all 1d values, this was on the transfer die and not a plate floor, usage can be found.

Fig 3

1894 issue

Fig 4

Obliterator Study

With the 1901/6 series [unwatermarked and 2 different watermarks] unique die proofs [fig 5] are known of the low values in black, along with colour trials of the 2/6d ‘specimen’ overprint on 3 values. Used halfpennies are uncommon. The 10s in the 1906 series is rare. A handful known with only 2 in good order.  Attention should be given to clear cancels, one in 20 are clear. The no watermark was not out for long with the high values very hard to find, and the ‘crown Q’ watermark only a few months. The locomotive watermark is in plentiful supply and usage can be found. The locomotive watermark can be found with private perfins and the exhibit should show a range of these, with many combinations and perfs found.  A short study of these is a must with 3 perf measurements on the one stamp very rare.  An obliterator study should be shown as the railway were trialing a few different cancellers at this time.

Fig 5

1901 composite die proofs

The 1915/26 series – essays are known [fig 6], but only 4 of each of the 3 known essays exist, with 2 of each known as pairs. It must show proofs, as these are known.  A proof pair of the halfpenny is known to be unique. Printed in 2 watermarks, locomotive and QR with the QR being released perforated and rouletted and a security backprint on plain paper. The halfpenny used and the 2/6d and 5s are rare in the loco watermark. Perfins are known, Private Company users in the lower cartouche, station numbers along with names in blue should be shown in the display.  A perforation study could also be included.  Usage is very rare.

Fig 6

1915 Essay

QR watermark and perforated issues, again the high values are rare with no halfpenny or perfins known, but private company users in the lower cartouche and station numbers should be shown in the display.

The rouletted issue is the more common to find, but again in very short supply, with good clear copies hard to find. The halfpenny value is known with only 2 recorded. A 5d. value was added to the series and proofs are know and should be shown. Mint multiples of any of this series are rare to very rare. A single perfin is known.  Private company users in the lower cartouche and station numbers should be shown. OHMS Sydney Central and Sydney City Office usage are known. A single copy with the lower cartouche blank is known.

The security backprint [QR in blue] is very rare indeed and is believed to be an emergency issue due to a watermark paper shortage, with only 2 values known [3d & 5d] with 6 copies total recorded. The exhibit must show at least a single stamp.

Rates should be explained throughout the exhibit with very little usage surviving.  An exhibit must not be marked down if only showing a few pieces.

In all, does the exhibitor have good understanding and knowledge of the subject? and does the exhibitor demonstrate this knowledge?.

Railway parcel stamps lack published information and there are few sources for obtaining material. Thus the depth of original research and the difficulty of acquisition of unusual material should be taken into account when an exhibit is compared with one from the more traditional class, even though parcel stamps are exhibited in traditional.

Treatment is left to the judge’s expertise with the exhibitor following the FIP SREV’s which can be found at the FIP web site here: https://www.f-i-p.ch/ The writer can be contacted at this email address:  Dave

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