The Watermarks Found In Victoria
Watermarks were used by many postal authorities around
the world during the 19th century, in an effort to thwart
the forgery of postal stamps. Victoria was no exception.
While the earliest issues were all printed on unwatermarked
paper, by the time the Emblems were issued in 1857,
printing on watermarked paper became the usual practice.
While there were exceptions, by the 1860s the use of
watermarked paper became the standard for all stamp
printings right through to the end of colonial times
A number of watermark types are met. As with much else,
the early years were marked by experimentation, and
emergency usages, with standardized practices evolving
by the 1870s.
The first watermark used was a large star found on
paper supplied by Perkins, Bacon & Co. . Calvert
used this paper for the first printings of the Emblems,
and it is also found, appropriately, on the 1d and 6d
Queen-on-Throne issues supplied by Perkins, Bacon &Co.
By 1859, the decision was made to order paper with uniquely
different watermarks for each denomination of stamp
printed. Six different watermark designs were ordered,
which have become known to collectors as the WORDS of
VALUE watermarks. Paper with the respective watermark
imprints ONE PENNY, TWO PENCE, THREE PENCE, FOUR PENCE,
SIX PENCE and FIVE SHILLING were ordered. These are
found on later Emblem issues, Netted Corners, Beaded
Ovals and the 6d Adapted issues.
By the time the Laureates were issued in 1863 there
had been a change of mind. The stamp printers found
that the words of value watermarks were too overpowering
and affected the print quality of the stamps. Instead
of the full wording, it was decided to simplify the
watermarks to the numeral value - so the ONE PENNY watermark
was replaced with a simple and clean 1.
Paper shortages required the postal authorities in
the mid and late 1860s to order emergency supplies of
paper from Tasmania on more than once occasion, with
the result that some Victoria stamps were issued with
the double lined numerals normally associated with Tasmania's
During the 1860's it became abundantly clear to postal
officials that they could not predict the volumes of
stamps needed for each denomination. There had been
many instances where watermark values had been substituted
to meet paper requirements. Each of these instances
created philatelic varieties, some of which are exceedingly
Finally, in 1865, a decision was made to standardize
the watermark used for all stamp denominations. The
design that was adopted had a V over a crown. The V
over Crown papers were used continuously from the 1860s
until 1905. During that span, 5 different designs were
used. These have become known as watermark types V1,
V2, V3, V4 and V5. The differences can be subtle and
distinguishing them can often be a challenge, with some
examples being impossible to catalogue with absolute
In 1905 a final replacement took place as authorities
tried to standardize the papers used in preparation
for the first issues of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The watermarks form an interesting study with many
examples that can challenge even experienced collectors.
Among them are a number of very rare usages, including
some catalogued examples that are represented by a single
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