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The Tasmanian Pictorial Stamps

The Pictorial stamps of Tasmania are one of the most well-known and iconic sets of stamps of any of the Australian Colonies. The stamps were very popular with collectors from the date of issue and continue to be so.

There are 8 values as follows:

lakemarion Mt-Wellington hobart
1/d green showing Lake Marion, first issued in march 1900 1d red showing a scene at the Hobart Waterworks looking towards Mt Wellington, issued in December 1899 2d violet, showing a view of Hobart and Mt Wellington from the Hobart waterfront issued in December 1899
tasmans portdavey russell
2d ½ indigo showing a view of Tasman's Arch 3d Sepia showing a view of Spring River, Pt Davey 4d Orange-buff showing Russell Falls, Mt Field Nat Park
stclairstclair dilston penny-overprint
5d bright blue showing Mt Gould at Lake St Claire  6d lake showing "Dilston Falls" 1d overprint on 2d violet stereotype issued 1910


 In 1912 with the impending issue of Commonwealth stamps in 1913, the 2d purple  stereotype printing was overprinted with the value "1d" as an economy measure to reduce potentially unusable stocks

Controversial Stamp Designs

The Pictorial series of stamps were designed to show-case Tasmania to the world and highlight the scenic attractions of the State. Pictorial stamp designs had been used before, particularly in the USA, but this approach was novel within Australia and different to any previous State stamp designs. The stamps were also much larger than any previous Tasmania designs. Importantly they did not show an image of the Monarch. The stamps caused much commentary, offending some due to their large size or lack of an image of Queen Victoria and prompting their supporters to press for a change in the postmarking policy of the day so as not to obliterate the Tasmanian scenes with heavy Numeral cancels.


The first printings of all the stamps was undertaken by De La Rue of London using an intaglio printing processed. After Federation a decision was made for Australian States' stamps to be in future printed in Melbourne.The steel plates were shipped from London to Melbourne, lithograph printing plates prepared and all denominations were eventually printed using this process.Further printings some denominations were eventually undertaken using an electrotype printing process. In late 1910 additional stocks of the 2d were required. A stereotype printing process was used and the resulting stamps are less clearly printed and slightly smaller than previous issues.

Watermarks, Shades, Flaws and Perforations

Details are beyond the scope of this article but watermark "TAS", "V crown over A" and "Crown over Double-lined A" are seen on various printings. There is a wide range of shades and many flaws on some issues sufficient to keep the interested collector busy for years ! A similarly wide range of perforations is also seen. All these are well documented in the literature and the interested collector will find excellent reference material. The Coin and Stamp Place will be very happy to suggest useful references.


These large stamps provide the best possible background to show postmarks, and the collection of the Tasmanian circular date stamps of the period – between 450 and 500 different – on the pictorial stamps is one of the most fertile areas for postmark enthusiasts. Post office regulations of the day specified that a Postal service would be provided anywhere in Tasmania having 6 residences or more. Hence we see date stamps bearing the names of many obscure and remote settlements, some of which no longer exist. While many of these postmarks are common, the rarest have been know to fetch more than $3000 at auction.Manuscript cancels are also seen, as are 'fiscal' cancels until late 1900 as the stamps up until that time could be used to pay stamp duty. The barred numeral cancels are also seen until late 1900, but their use as a stamp canceller was prohibited from then as the numerals obscured the stamps quite drastically. Circular date stamps were always used from then on.

The Tasmanan Pictorial stamps present a very rich and interesting area for the collector, includng 'traditional" stamp collectors and post mark collectors . The Coin and Stamp Place will be happy to assist you with your search for high-quality material and reference books.


Copyright Peter Allan. Used with permission

Watch a video about the Tasmanian Pictorial Stamps