SCM 2015
Our Solar System

There are different types of stamps

What are Definitive stamps?

Definitive stamps have commonly used values (e.g. 70 cents), so they stay in circulation for a long time. These stamps are mostly used for posting standard letters.

What are Commemorative stamps?

Commemorative stamps celebrate social or historical events of national importance.

What are Thematic stamps?

These stamps have a common theme, such as animals, flowers, cars, dinosaurs, space travel or fairy tales. Stamp collections based on a particular theme will usually include stamps issued in different years by various countries.

What are Personalised stamps?

Personalised stamps allow a photograph to be printed on the tab of a currently valid postage stamp and can feature photos of family members, friends or favourite pets.

What are Legend stamps?

Australia Post once had a rule that no living person (except the Queen and members of her family) could be shown on stamps in their own right. In 1997 the first "Australian Legends" stamps were issued honouring Sir Donald Bradman, Australia's most famous cricketer.

What are Instant stamps?

During the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the world's first instant stamps were produced for every Australian athlete or team that won a gold medal. They were available for purchase the day after the gold medal was presented.

What are First day covers?

These are available on the first day that new stamps are issued. They have a picture on the envelope and a special postmark that relates to the stamp issue.

What are Miniature sheets?

These are small sheets of stamps, often designed so that the stamps form part of a larger picture.

What are Maxicards?

These are picture postcards that come with one stamp and a special “first day of issue” postmark.

What are Stamp packs?

These are folders containing a new set of stamps in mint condition. Information about the stamps is printed on the pack.

What are Sheetlets?

These are small stamp sheets, usually with ten stamps, that can be of the same or different designs.

Stamps have a very interesting history

Have you ever wondered why stamps were first used and when? The idea of "marking" letters began in Great Britain in 1661, when a special mark was stamped on letters to show they had been received by the post office.

What was the first stamp ever produced in the world?

In 1840 the "Penny Black" was the first stamp ever to be released. It was called the "Penny Black" because, you guessed it, it cost one penny and it was black! This stamp showed that the sender of the letter had paid the postage. Before this, postage costs were paid by the person receiving the letter.

What was the first Australian stamp?

The first national stamp release in Australia was in 1913. The stamp featured a kangaroo on a map of Australia.
Although the main use for stamps today is to pay postage, Australian stamps have become well known throughout the world for their unusual and amazing designs. The history of Australia can be traced through its commemorative stamps, on which all aspects of Australian culture, as well as our natural heritage, have been illustrated.

What is a postmark?

Before stamps there were postmarks. In Australia we used postmarks from as early as 1812, but it was not until 1850 that people were asked to pay the postage on their letters before they were sent. By 1860, every state or colony in Australia had stamps.
More about the fascinating history of stamps can be found in the Stamps and Collectables section of the Australia Post education website

Seven fast stamp facts

  • The smallest ever stamp, issued in 1863 by the Columbian state of Bolivar, was only 9.5mm x 8mm. Imagine trying to find an image that looks good that small!

  • In 1977, Australia issued a stamp called "Surfing Santa", with a picture of Santa wearing shorts and riding a wave. A lot of people weren't happy with this as a Christmas stamp.

  • In 1879, the Belgian town of Liege tried using cats to deliver mail. Thirty-seven cats were employed to carry bundles of letters to villages within a 37km radius. They proved unreliable and the experiment was short-lived!

  • Australia's youngest stamp designer is Holly Alvarez of Perth. She was only five years old when her design for a 1983 Christmas stamp was chosen in a national competition for primary school children.

  • Part of every stamp is invisible to our eyes and can only be seen by Australia Post's sorting machines. A special phosphorescent coating on each stamp only shows up under an ultraviolet light. This light is what the sorting machine uses to position the stamp for cancellation (postmarking) when a letter is sorted for delivery.

  • Early stamps had no perforations; they had to be cut from the sheets with scissors.

  • If you love reptiles or insects, stamps are for you! These animals have been featured on more than 50 Australian fauna stamps issued since 1982.

More stamp facts can be found in the Stamps and Collectables section of the Australia Post education website