Original Commonwealth stamp designs for auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 9th December, 2013

In 1911, the Commonwealth Government announced the Commonwealth Stamp Design Competition to create a uniform national stamp.

Previously, stamps were designed and issued by each of the six States (or colonies until 1901) but the Federal Government then believed it was time for a national identity stamp that contained “features characteristic of Australia”.

Curiously, the winning designs never made it to print and, instead, artist Blamire Young was commissioned to prepare alternative designs.

Of the 10 designs he submitted, one was chosen for development – and the “Roo” stamp was born.

A simple design featuring a kangaroo illustrated against a map of Australia, this iconic stamp was somewhat controversial at the time because it was one of the first British Commonwealth stamp designs not to depict a member of the British monarchy.

First issued in 1913, it quickly became accepted as part of the national fabric and was printed in many denominations – continuing to be issued until 1946.

Hugh Morgan, former Western Mining Corporation CEO, former president of the Business Council of Australia and founding chairman of the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre, assembled a collection featuring artwork for several of the original designs submitted for the 1911 competition as well as early examples of the iconic “Roo” stamps in many denominations.

This collection will be part of Mossgreen’s stamps, coins and postal history auction from 2.30pm Tuesday December 10 at 926-930 High Street, Armadale.

The collection highlight is the “Two Pence Halfpenny” blue essay of Blamire Young’s original design that was selected and developed into the “Roo” stamp.

It is a more detailed illustration than the final version – with the unusual exclusion of Tasmania on the map – and carries an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000.

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