The Centenary of WWI: 1917 stamp issue has topped Australia Post’s Stamp Poll 2017. A total of 536 respondents completed the poll, ranking their favourite Australian and territories stamp issues in order of preference (from 1 to 34).
While almost 90 per cent of the respondents were from Australia, collectors from the USA, UK and New Zealand also featured. More than half of the respondents were in the 60+ age bracket, but the 44 to 59 and 30 to 44 age groups also participated, as well as a small contingent from those aged 18 to 29.
The top ten stamp issues are outlined below. Australia’s wartime history features, as do subjects from nature, some striking landscapes and several historical issues. Our literary past also resonated, as did stamps set on the water.
01 - World War I: 1917
The stamp issue voted most popular in this year’s poll is Centenary of WWI: 1917. The issue, released on 18 April 2017, is the fourth in our five year series commemorating World War I. The five stamps, designed by Phil Ellett of Creative Ethos, combine photographs from the Australian War Memorial to showcase some of the key themes and events of the year 1917.
The stamps present five important topics: the Australian Flying Corps, which entered the skies above the Western Front in 1917; the costly Third Battle of Ypres, which results in the loss of half-a-million allied troops, including 38,000 Australians; the crucial support for the troops by an army of, largely, women on the home front, who sent care packages that included knitted woollen socks to protect against Trench Foot; the Sinai–Palestine campaign, waged by mounted troops; and the work of war correspondent Charles Bean, who went on to write the multi-volume official history of Australia’s part in WWI and who conceived of the Australian War Memorial.
02 - Dragonflies: Stamp Collecting Month 2017
Dragonflies (Order Odonata) are among the most beautiful and captivating creatures of the insect world. Respondents to this year’s poll clearly agreed. The stamp designs, released for Stamp Collecting Month on 1 August 2017, feature spectacular illustrations by Owen Bell. The designs bring to life these fascinating flying insects, which are known to hover weightless in mid-year, before darting off at high speed. The five species shown (four true dragonflies and one damselfly) represent various genera across four families. They are all male dragonflies, which are often more spectacular in colouration than females.
03 - Shipwrecks
Since the 1600s more than 8,000 shipwrecks have been recorded in Australian waters, of which only one-quarter have been located. Once located, however, wrecks and their relics reveal some fascinating stories. This stamp issue, released on 29 August 2017, features artists’ impressions of three historic and protected shipwrecks, together with a recovered artefact. The Pandora, which captured some of the infamous mutineers of the HMS Bounty, the luxurious paddle steamer Clonmel and the Dutch trade ship Zuytdorp are all strikingly presented in stamp designs by Simone Sakinofsky of the Australia Post Design Studio.
04 - Australian Jetties
The poll respondents enjoyed the dramatic and evocative photographs featured in the Australian Jetties stamp issue, released on 21 February 2017 and designed by Andrew Hogg Design. The four wooden jetties shown are Busselton, Western Australia; Tumby Bay, South Australia; Shelley Beach near Portsea, Victoria; and Kincumber, New South Wales. They are examples of the numerous jetties and piers that punctuate Australia’s coastline and waterways.
05 - A Century of Service: Women in War
The Women in War stamp issue, released on 6 October 2017, is the fourth in a series commemorating a century of service since World War I, and acknowledges the role of women in war and conflict, which prior to and during World War I was almost entirely limited to nursing. Since then, women’s roles have diversified, and today all roles in the Australian Defence Force are open to women. The designs, by Stacey Zass, show the evolving roles of Australian women in major conflict zones since World War I.
06 - Heard Island
Poll respondents appreciated the striking beauty of subantarctic Heard Island, a 368-square-kilometre volcanic island located in the middle of the vast Southern Ocean, about 4,000 kilometres south-west of mainland Australia. It is the largest island in the external Australian Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) and is named on the World Heritage List and Australian National Heritage List. The stamps designs, by Melinda Coombes of Whitechurch Coombes Design, were released on 5 September 2017 and showcase the island’s beautiful landscapes and interesting animal inhabitants.
07 - Caves
The Caves stamp issue, released on 2 May 2017, took us into four of Australia’s most spectacular and significant natural subterranean environments, including a lava tube and an underwater cave. These fragile yet resilient caves contain fascinating formations, and some are also home to rare fauna and ancient fossil deposits. The striking designs, by Jo Muré of the Australia Post Design Studio, present incredible photographs, each including a human form to show us the scale of these natural wonders.
08 - Australian Succulents
Succulent plants have adapted to dry conditions over thousands of years, by developing the capacity for water storage. These incredible plants occur through most regions in Australia and in every state and territory. Of the 20,000 or so vascular plants native to Australia, about 400 are considered succulent. The four stamps, designed by Janet Boschen Design and released on 20 June 2017, each showcase two aspects of an individual species: the foliage and the flower.
09 - Trans-Australian Railway 1917–2017
In 2017, we commemorated the centenary of the completion of a significant infrastructure project for newly federated Australia – the 1,690-kilometre transcontinental railway between Port Augusta, in South Australia, and Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia. The railway not only brought comfort and speed to east–west travel but also boosted tourism and improved trade, supply and mail links. The stamps, released on 4 July 2017, were designed by John White of the Australia Post Design Studio. Poll respondents clearly enjoyed the vintage travel posters featured in the design, which convey the optimism and aspiration of the new rail service.
10 - Henry Lawson 1867–1922
Completing the top ten in this year’s poll is a stamp issue commemorating the birth of one of Australia’s most iconic literary figures, Henry Lawson (1867–1922). The stamps, released on 13 June 2017, feature clever illustrations from Jamie and Leanne Tufrey. The illustrations depict scenes from two pieces of Lawson’s short fiction: “The Drover’s Wife”, which presents the tale of a long-suffering yet resilient drover’s wife who battles the harsh Australian outback, and “Mitchell: a Character Sketch”, the humorous tale of a larrikin jackaroo who outsmarts figures of authority.
Visit our stamp poll results page for a run-down of previous poll results dating back to 2007.
This article was produced at the time of publication and will not be updated.