1901 - 1912 Issues


The Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed in law on January 1, 1901, bringing together the six colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia into one federation. The amalgamation of the postal authorities of the six states, however, was not completed until the end of 1912.

The postal laws were altered in 1901, requiring that the word POSTAGE be affixed to any stamps designated for postal purposes.

It is only fitting that the last of the stamp issues from the philatelically rich colony of Victoria should be as complex and interesting as its' first Half Length issues of the 1850s.

The Commonwealth Era issues are riddled with perforation, paper and watermark varieties, multiple printings with nuanced colors, and more. It is an area that is deserving of closer attention, which will reward those who look more closely!


1901 Issue without POSTAGE
Blue Green - wmk V3 (sideways)

The Bell design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was re-adopted for the regular Halfpence issue in January 1901. The first printing does not have the word POSTAGE in the design.

These are all on paper watermarked V3 and comb perforated 12x12.

With the confederation of Australia in January 1901, it became law for all postage stamps to have the word POSTAGE on them. Subsequent issues were modified accordingly.

Commonwealth Issues - Die I
Blue Green - wmk V4

The modified design with POSTAGE was issued in June 1901, watermarked V4, usually oriented sideways (either way), but some are found with the watermark upright.

Perforations found are comb 12x12, line perforated 12 or 11, with compound and mixed perforations of 12 and 11 also known.

The first state of the die had solid triangles of color on either side of, and just below, the VICTORIA banner.

Commonwealth Issues - Die II
Blue Green - wmk V4

In die state II, the left triangle is somewhat partitioned with white lines to break up the solid color, while the triangle on the right side remains solid.

The die II stamps were issued in 1901. The various perforations found include comb 12x12, line perforation 11 and mixed/compounds of 11 and 12.

Commonwealth Issue - Die III
Blue Green - wmk V4

In die III, the triangles of color on either side of the VICTORIA banner have been criss-crossed with a series of white lines, giving a much softer impression.

Die III was issued in June 1905, and is found only line perforated 12 on the paper watermarkd V4 (sideways only).

Commonwealth Issues - Die III
Blue Green - wmk C/A

All stamps issued on the paper watermarked Crown over A are found in die state III only.

These were first issued in October 1905, perforated 12x12, 12, 11, and mixed/compound usage of 12 and 11.

Normally the watermarks are sideways, but upright watermarks are also found.

Commonwealth Issues Die III on thin paper
Blue Green - wmk C/A

Printings were made in 1912 on a very distinctive thin, white pre-gummed paper. These are found perforated 12x12, 11, 12, and mixed/compound 12 and 11.

The low catalog prices are deceptive - assembling the listed varieties on this paper is a MAJOR challenge.


Commonwealth Issue - Die I
Rose - wmk V4

The Naish design was reprinted for the UPU in 1891 and was later re-adopted for the 1901 issues, being printed in red shades instead of the original greens. Nearly 1 billion were printed from 1901 through 1912.

Die I stamps have thick shading lines behind the queen's head,

The first printing was issued in January 1901, on paper watermarked V4 (upright or inverted), perforated 12x12 only.

Commonwealth Issue - Die I
Dull Red - Wmk V4

The February 1902 printings were in a dull red printed from the die I state, watermarked V4.

This printing is found perforated 12x12½, 11, and mixed/compound 12½ and 11.

Commonwealth Issues - Die II
Rose - wmk V4

Printings from Die state II were issued from April 1901. The shading lines in die II have been thinned giving a much lighter look to the background.

The first Die II shade is rose, which is only found with comb perforation 12x12½, watermarked V4.

Commonwealth Issues - Die II
Deep Rose - wmk V4

A deep rose shade is also seen from the die II printings, with the same characteristics as noted above.

Commonwealth Issues - Die II
Dull Red - wmk V4

The die II dull red shade was issued in December 1902 with perforations 12x12, 11, or mixed/compound perforations of 12 and 11.

Commonwealth Issues -Die III
Pale Rose Red - wmk V4

In 1905, the die was altered again - this time the numeral 1 and the STOP following it on the left side of the stamp were separated from the circle enclosing them. It is hard to see in the scan, but quite obvious with close inspection of an actual stamp.

The die III stamp in pale rose, watermarked V4, is found perforated 12x12½ or 11(very scarce).

Kellow suggests that three dozen Die III copies may be recorded perforated 11, but experience indicates the number may be somewhat higher.

Commonwealth Issue - Die III
Rose Red - wmk Cr/A

All stamps printed on the paper watermaked C/A are die III types. As in the case of the V4 issues, watermarks are found upright and inverted in equal numbers.

The first printing on paper watermarked C/A was issued in July 1905, in rose red, comb perforated 12x12½, line perforated 12½, line perforated 11 and mixed/compound 12½ and 11.

Commonwealth Issue - Die III
Pale Rose - wmk Cr/A

The pale rose shade on paper watermarked C/A was issued in 1907. It is found perforated 12x12½, 11, and mixed/compound 12½ and 11.

Commonwealth Issue - Die III
Rose Carmine - wmk Cr/A

The rose carmine shade appeared in 1911, watermarked C/A, and perforated 12x12½, 12½, 11, and mixed/compound 12½ and 11.

Commonwealth Issue - Die III
Rose Carmine - wmk V5

The printings in August 1912 were on paper watermarked V5, in rose carmine, die state III. Examples are perforated 12X12½ or 11 only.


Commonwealth Issue
Maroon on yellow - wmk V4

The Williams design, first introduced in 1897, was modified to include the word POSTAGE and issued as part of the Commonwealth issue.

The first printing was issued in June 1901, in maroon on a yellow paper watermarked V4 sideways. They are all perforated 12x12½, the only exception being a rare mixed perforation of the 12x12½ and 11.

Dull Red on yellow - wmk V4

The dull red shade was issued in 1906 on yellow paper watermarked V4 sideways. Most are perforated 12x12, but a scarce perforation 11 is also found from later printings.

No printings of this stamp were made on paper watermarked C/A despite the fact that the stamp was generally available until the end of the colonial period.

Some shade variants can be identified which are not illustrated here.


The 1901 Issue without POSTAGE
Reddish Violet - wmk V4

The Naish design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was subsequently adopted for the 1901 issues.

This stamp was issued in January 1901 on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12.

Lilac - wmk V4

The design was modified to include the word POSTAGE along each side, and issued in June 1901 in lilac, watermarked V4, perforated 12x12 only.

In die state I, the lower right corner comes to a sharp right angled corner, (unlike Die II), and has no spot of color on the top of the head, under the CT of VICTORIA.

Commonwealth Issue - Die I
Reddish Violet - wmk V4

The reddish violet shade appeared in 1902, watermarked V4, perforated 12x12½. A handful of copies are known with mixed perforations of 12x12½ and 11.

Commonwealth Issue - Die II
Lilac - wmk V4

Lilac was issued in die state II in June 1901, at the same time as the die I type, perforated 12x12 only.

Die state II stamps have a blunted lower right corner and a tiny spot of color along the top of the head, just under the CT.

hmmmm... is this a die III shown here?

Commonwealth Issue - Die II
Reddish Violet - wmk V4

The reddish violet, die II, was issued in 1902 on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12 only.

Commownealth Issue - Die II
Rosy Mauve - wmk V4

Rosy mauve, die II, on paper watermarked V4 was issued in 1902, perforated 12x12½. A very rare perforation 11 is also recorded.

Kellow states that about 6 used copies are known in the perforation 11.

Commonwealth Issue - Die II
Dull Mauve - wmk Cr/A

The first printing on paper watermarked C/A was issued in September 1905, in dull mauve, die state II, perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue - Die II
Lilac - wmk Cr/A

The lilac shade was issued in 1906, perforated 12x12½ or 11 (rare).

Kellow suggests only 4 copies of the perforation 11 may be known.

Commownwealth Issue - Die II
Reddish Violet - wmk Cr/A

Reddish violet was issued in 1907, perforated 12x12½ or 11, and perhaps six copies are known with mixed perforations 12x12½ and 11.

Commonwealth Issue - Die II
Bright Mauve - wmk Cr/A

Bright mauve appeared in 1910. It is known perforated 12x12½ or 11 only.

Commonwealth Issue - Overprinted
Lilac - wmk Cr/A

A shortage of paper in 1912 created an emergency situation when the stock of One Penny stamps ran low. In June, a quantity of the Two Pence stamps were overprinted as shown.

These are printed on rotary perforated stamps gauging 11¾x12¼ in the mauve shade.


Commonwealth Issue
Dull Blue - wmk V4

The Tannenberg design of 1891 was modified to include the word POSTAGE and issued in shades of blue as part of the 1901 issues.

The first printing was issued in January 1901 on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12½. A rare variety perforated 11 also exists.

Commonwealth Issue
Deep Blue - wmk V4

A deep blue shade appeared in 1901, perforated 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Blue - wmk Cr/A

The first printing on the paper watermarked Cr/A was not issued until 1908, in blue, perforated 12x12½ or 11.

Commonwealth Issue
Indigo - wmk Cr/A

Indigo shades were issued in 1909, perforated 12x12½, 12½ or 11.


1901 Issue without POSTAGE
Dull Orange - wmk V4

The Laureate design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was re-adopted for the regular Three Pence issue in January 1901. These are printed in dull orange, on paper watermarked V4, and comb perforated 12x12½.

See the Laureates category for examples of the earlier printings.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Orange Brown - wmk V4

The design was slightly modified to include the word POSTAGE, and issued in July 1901, in dull orange brown, perforated 12x12. Several examples are known with mixed perforations 12x12 and 11.

Commonwealth Issue
Chestnut - wmk V4

A chestnut shade appeared later in 1901, perforated 12X12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Yellow Brown - wmk V4

Yellow brown appeared in 1903, perforated 12x12½ or 11.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Reddish Brown - wmk V4

Dull Reddish Brown was issued in 1905 on the V4 paper, watermarked 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Pale Orange Brown - wmk V4

Pale orange brown was first issued in 1903, perforated 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Orange Brown - wmk Cr/A

The first printings on the paper watermarkd Cr/A were issued in later 1905 in orange brown shades, perforated 12x12 or 11. A very rare variety is also known with mixed perforations 12x12 and 11.

Commownealth Issue
Yellow Brown - wm Cr/A

Yellow brown shades were issued in 1908, perforated 12x12½, and a very rare variety perforated 11.

Commonwealth Issue
Orange Buff - wmk Cr/A

Orange buff shades appeared in 1909, perforated 12x12½ or 11.

Commonwealth Issue
Ochre - wmk Cr/A

Ochre shades were issued in 1912, perforated 12x12, 11 or rarely in mixed perforations 12x12 and 11.


1901 Issue Without Postage
Bistre Yellow - wmk V4

The Naish design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was subsequently adopted for the 1901 issues.

This stamp was issued in January 1901 in a bistre yellow shade, on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Bistre Yellow - wmk V4

The design was modified slightly to include the word POSTAGE along each side and issued, as such, in June 1901, perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Brown Bistre - wmk V4

The brown bistre shade was issued in 1905, watermarked V4, and perforated 12x12½. No perforation varieties are found on the V4 printings of this denomination.

Commonwealth Issue
Yellow Bistre - wmk Cr/A

The first printing on the paper watermarked Cr/A was issued in January 1906 in yellow bistre. These are found perforated 12x12 or 11 only.

Commonwealth Issue
Olive Bistre - wmk Cr/A

Olive bistre shades appeared in the printings from 1908. These are perforated 12x12½ or 11 only.

Commonwealth Issue
Yellow Olive, wmk Cr/A

Yellow olive was issued in 1912, perforated 12x12½ or 11.


Commonwealth Issue
Red Brown - wmk V4

The Tannenberg design of 1891 was resurrected with a slight modification to include the word POSTAGE, and issued in January 1901, perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Purple Brown - wmk V4

The purple brown shade appeared in 1903, perforated 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Chocolate - wmk Cr/A

The first printing on the paper watermarked Cr/A appeared in August 1906, perforated 12x12½. A very rare perforated 11 variety exists, as well. Kellow suggests that 3 copies may exist of the perforated 11 variety.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Red Brown - wmk Cr/A

The dull red brown shade was issued in 1908, perforated 12x12. Once again, a rare perforation 11 exists.

Kellow suggests that only 2 copies may exist of the rare perforated 11 variety.


1901 Issue without POSTAGE
Emerald - wmk V4

The Laureate Six Pence design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was subsequently adopted for the 1901 issues.

This stamp was issued in January 1901 on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12.

See the earlier LAUREATES section for examples of the earlier printings.

Commonwealth Issue
Emerald - wmk V4

The design was modified slightly to include the word POSTAGE and issued in July 1901 in Emerald, on the paper watermarked V4. It is known perforated 12x12, or 11. Rare mixed perforation varieties of 12x12 and 11 are known - perhaps three copies, in all.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Green - wmk V4

Dull green was printed in 1904, perforated 12x12. A rare perforated 11 is known, and a rare mixed perforation variety of 12x12 and 11 is also recorded.

Commonwealth Issue
Pale Dull Green - wmk V4

Pale dull green was issued in 1904. It is normally found perforated 12x12½, but a rare perforation 11 is known - only a few are recorded.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Green - wmk Cr/A

The first printings on the paper watermarked Cr/A was in a dull green shade, issued October 1905. It is found perforated 12x12 only.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Yellowish Green - wmk Cr/A

The dull yellowish green was issued in 1907. It is perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Emerald - wmk Cr/A

Emerald shades on the paper watermarked Cr/A appeared in 1909, perforated 12x12½ or 11. A rare mixed perforation variety of 12x12½ and 11 exists - maybe two copies are recorded.

Commonwealth Issue
Yellowish Green - wmk Cr/A

A yellowish green shade was printed in 1911, comb perforated 12x12, line perforated 12, or line perforated 11. As well a mixed perforation variety from the line perforators 12 and 11 is known.

Kellow suggests that a half dozen of the rare perforation variety may be known.


Commonwealth Issue
Dull Rose Red - wmk V4

The Bell Nine Pence design was modified to include the word POSTAGE and resurrected for the 1901 issues This stamp was issued in July 1901 on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12. It is also known with the perforation sideways.

Commonwealth Issue
Pale Red - wmk V4

Pale red appeared later in 1901, perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Brown Red - wmk V4

Dull brown red was issued in 1905, found perforated 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Brown Red - wmk Cr/A

The first printing on the paper watermarked Cr/A was in brown red and issued in December 1905, perforated 12x12.

Commonwealth Issue
Orange Brown - wmk Cr/A

Orange brown was issued in 1906, normally found perforated 12x12½. A rare mixed perforation variety of perforation 12x12½ and 11 is known - only one copy is recorded.

Commonwealth Issue
Red Brown - wmk Cr/A

Red brown appeared in 1908, normally perforated 12x12½. A rare mixed perforation variety is found with 12x12½ and 11 - perhaps two copies are recorded.

Commonwealth Issue
Pale Dull Rose - wmk Cr/A

Pale dull rose was printed in 1909, and was issued perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Rose Carmine - wmk Cr/A

The rose carmine shade was printed in 1910, perforated 12x12½, or rarely perforated 11.

Kellow indicated that 2 copies are recorded of the perforation 11 variety.


1901 Issue without POSTAGE
Yellow - wmk V4

The Bell design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was re-adopted for the regular One Shilling issue in January 1901. The first printing does not have the word POSTAGE in the design.

These are perforated 12x12½ on paper watermarked V4.

Commonwealth Issue - 6mm POSTAGE
Yellow - wmk V4

The next printings were from this same printing plate, in yellow, perforated 12x12½. These were issued in 1902.

Commonwealth Issue - 7mm POSTAGE
Yellow Orange - wmk V4

Before the next printing was made, a new printing plate was prepared, which incorporporated the word POSTAGE in the prescribed positions. The lettering is cleaner and POSTAGE now measures 7mm in length.

The frist printing on this new plate was issued in April 1903, in yellow orange, watermarked V4 and perforated 12x12½.

Commonwealth Issue - 7mm POSTAGE
Orange - wmk V4

The next printing was in orange, issued in 1904, perforated 12x12½. This is also found with the watermark sideways.

Commonwealth Issue - 7mm POSTAGE
Orange - wmk Cr/A

The next printing was on the paper watermarked Cr/A, and issued in February 1906. These are found perforated 12x12½ only.

Commonwealth Issue
Yellow Orange - wmk Cr/A

Yellow orange appeared in 1906. It is found perforated 12x12½, and a rare perforation 11.

Kellow states that about 2 dozen examples are known perforated 11.

Commonwealth Issue - 7mm POSTAGE
Yellow - wmk Cr/A

The yellow shade was printed in 1908, perforated 12x12 only.


1901 Issue - without POSTAGE
Blue on pink - wmk V3

The Bell design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was re-adopted for the regular Two Shilling issue in January 1901. The first printing does not have the word POSTAGE in the design.

These are all on paper watermarked V3 and comb perforated 12x12½.

With the confederation of Australia in January 1901, it became law for all postage stamps to have the word POSTAGE on them. Subsequent issues were modified accordingly.

Commonwealth Issue
Blue on pink - wmk V4

The design was modified to include POSTAGE and printed on paper watermarked V4 in July 1901, perforated 12x12½.

Many printings ensued, but they are indistinguishable from one another, and all were on the same pink paper watermarked V4.


1901 Issue without POSTAGE
Pale Rose & Deep Blue - wmk V4

The Laureate Five Shilling design was reprinted in 1891 for the UPU and was subsequently adopted for the 1901 issues.

This stamp was issued in January 1901, with colors reversed from the earlier 1880 printings, on paper watermarked V4, perforated 12x12.

See the earlier LAUREATES section for examples of the earlier printings.

Commonwealth Issue
Rose Red & Pale Blue - wmk V4

The Value Plate was modified to include the word POSTAGE, and the new design was issued in July 1901, in rose red and pale blue, watermarked V4, line perforated 12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Scarlet & Deep Blue - wmk V4

Scarlet and Deep Blue printings were issued in December 1901, watermarked V4, line perforated 12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Rosine & Blue - wmk V4

The Rosine and Blue printing was issued in December 1904, watermarked V4, and perforated 12½.

Kellow cites two unused copies perforated 12½x11.

Commonwealth Issue
Rose Red & Ultra - wmk Cr/A

The first printing to be made on the paper watermarked Cr/A was issued in December 1907, in rose red and ultramarine, line perforated 12 or 11.

Commonwealth Issue
Rose Red & Blue - wmk Cr/A

Rose red and blue on the Cr/A paper was issued in 1911, perforated 12½. These are also found with the watermark sideways.


Commonwealth Issue
Carmine Rose - wmk V4

The first printing was issued in carmine rose in November 1901, watermarked V4 sideways, line perforated 12½.

Commonwealth Issue
Salmon - wmk Cr/A

The salmon shade was printed on paper watermarked Cr/A sideways, in January 1907. It is found line perforated 12½ or 11.


Commonwealth Issue
Deep Blue - wmk V4

The printings on the paper watermarked V4 are in deep blue, line perforated 12½ or 11 (the scarcer variety).

Commonwealth Issue
Dull Blue - wmk Cr/A

Dull blue was printed on the paper watermarked Cr/A in July 1906 (and in early 1907). These are found line perforated 12½ or 11.


The Stamps of Victoria, by G.Kellow, B&K Publishing, 1990.

A Subject Index of Victorian Philately, by G.Kellow, Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, 1988

The Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps, Vol IV, by Robson Lowe Ltd., 1962

Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue, Part 1, British Commonwealth,Stanley Gibbons Ltd., (2002).

<< Previous | Menu | Next >>