We get lots of requests for specific subjects to be featured on stamps and postal stationery. Although the range of possible subjects is limitless, we can’t take on all suggestions for practical reasons.
While variety in the themes featured on stamps is desirable, this has to be balanced by the needs of the postal system, production capacities (with particular regard to the interests of the philatelic community), and the propriety of particular subject matter. As a consequence, we’ve got an established set of criteria to help us select the right subjects and themes for postage stamps and postal stationery.
Sometimes stamp collecting can be financially rewarding, but this generally not the case for the majority of collectors.
Many hobbies do not involve making money, but they are still very rewarding. So is stamp collecting. The rewards come in the form of knowledge, relaxation and friendships gained from pursuing your hobby.
If you have an expectation that collecting stamps ought to reward you financially, you must not expect to achieve this aim in the short term. Beginner’s prospects for collecting stamps that will grow in value are not necessarily good, because beginners lack sufficient knowledge. Without investing in years of effort building this knowledge, it's not easy to recognise opportunities for acquiring worthwhile stamps. Naturally, there are no certainties in the process and even experts can’t be sure their stamp purchases will prove lucrative.
Likewise, the beginner should be prepared to buy stamps and accessories without an expectation they'll rise in value. It's more important to enjoy your stamp collecting.
The overwhelming majority of stamps you can collect are not valuable and can be purchased for relatively little, because they're produced in large quantities serving a postal requirement, as well as meeting demand from collectors. The production quantities of most stamps are invariably so great, they rarely appreciate in value after their withdrawal at Post Offices. It is rather pointless buying current stamps with a financial motive in mind. You should buy new stamps for their appeal and the enjoyment you will get adding them to your collection.
The “secret” to making money out of stamp collecting is to buy scarce stamps and other philatelic items (such as postal history) at affordable prices and retain them in the hope that interest in these collecting fields becomes more widespread. In this event, prices will probably rise and your collection is more likely to be of greater value than what it cost you to put together.
Of course, it's impossible to know precisely which “underrated” areas of stamp collecting will become popular areas in the future. Experienced collectors know the joy of the hobby lies in building collections around themes that interest them – the prospect of financial gain is secondary.
The answer is often no.
Many old Australian stamps are extremely common and can be purchased cheaply. A century ago, there were many collectors who were actively removing these from mail and today the stamps exist in plentiful quantities.
Some 19th century stamps are scarce or rare, normally because they were not commonly used on mail or they were used earlier in the 19th century when stamp collecting was less widely practised.
The reason applies to the value of almost anything. If something is scarce and in high demand, its price is high. But if it's plentiful and demand is low, the price is slight.
Supply and demand governs the price of most marketable items. Australian stamps that exist in very limited numbers enjoy high prices on the market, but those that exist in large quantities are cheap to buy.
When buying from the stamp trade, you should bear in mind the trader sells at a retail price that covers the expenses of running a business. If you sell stamps to the trader, it's unlikely you'll be able to do so at a similar price. The trader’s selling price includes the profit margin, which is excluded from the trader’s buying price.
In 1981, Australia Post introduced the Annual Collection of Australian Stamps offering collectors the opportunity to buy a full year of Australian stamps in one product, together with background information about the stamp issues.
The Annual Collection of Australian Stamps has been produced every year since 1981.
Self-adhesive stamps were introduced in 1990 and Australia was a global pioneer in this venture.
Self-adhesive stamps have overtaken gummed stamps in popularity and are almost exclusively used for basic letter postage. This type of stamp is more hygienic and pleasant than gummed stamps, as there's no need to lick them.
We use many different companies to print our stock. This is because different printing techniques are required for the various types of stamps.
For example, self-adhesive stamps use lithography printing. Some printers specialise only in this type of stamp.
Australia Post deems that first day of issue (FDI) is only available for a period of 4 weeks from the date the issue is released.
This creates a product that becomes a collectable item due to the limited time it is available for purchase.
The different perforations used for self-adhesive (peel-and-stick) and gummed stamps will allow you to identify the style of stamp. Perforations are used to allow stamps to be easily detached from each other.
Gummed stamps are perforated by cutting rows and columns of small holes. The size is identical on all four edges of each stamp.
Self-adhesive stamps are cut to shape by using a metal die. Dies can be produced to cut stamps in virtually any shape - ie. self-adhesive stamps currently have a flat section at their top and bottom.
CTO stands for "cancelled to order", or in other words, postmarked. It indicates the stamp has been postmarked without being used for postage.
FDI stands for "first day of issue" of a stamp. As the name implies, a first day of issue postmark can only be applied to stamps being released on the day of issue.
A "mint" stamp is one that's in pristine condition, exactly as issued by Australia Post.
The stamps gum or adhesive is intact, it hasn't been through the postal service and is therefore not postmarked.
Maximum cards are souvenir picture postcards released with every new Australian stamp issue.
The stamp is affixed on the view side of the card where it can be seen along with the card illustration and specially designed pictorial postmark.
In addition, maximum cards have a postage paid imprint, on the “message and address” side of the card, enabling them to be posted within Australia and by air mail anywhere in the world.
Postcards feature a printed image of a stamp on the picture side of the card. The image relates to a particular stamp issue.
A maximum card has an actual stamp affixed on the picture side of the card. The stamp will be cancelled by a specially designed pictorial postmark.
A stamp pack is a presentation pack containing a set of mint stamps.
These are produced to accompany all issues of 2 or more stamps. The pack can also contain, when issued, a miniature sheet.
The stamp pack allows the stamps to be kept in the original packaging. Their see-through mounts and background information are appealing to collectors.
The Seal of Authenticity is a sticker with Australia Post branding attached to the back of some products. It contains DNA authenticity and certification number of the product.
The Seal of Authenticity first appeared on the CI Lunar New Year 2008 - Year of the Rat PNC (Postal and Numismatic Cover).
The seal was introduced as a way for collectors to be sure they’re buying an official Australia Post product.
An imperforate stamp has all the characteristics of a postage stamp except for the perforations - or holes - separating the stamps.
Stamps can be either semi-imperforate (with some perforations missing), or fully imperforate (with no perforations at all).
The perforations are one of several security features included in a stamp.
Imperforate or semi-imperforate stamps are designed as a collectable. They're a way of offering something unusual to collectors..
You can still use imperforate stamps for postage, as long as they're posted in their original format. If they're included in a minisheet, they're valid for postage providing the minisheet is intact.
If you would like to get your first day cover envelope postmarked, you can do so at selected Post Offices.
First day issue postmarks cannot be applied before the date of issue. If you purely want your postmark for collectable purposes, and won’t be placing your envelope into the postal system, there is a grace period of up to 4 weeks beyond the first day of issue when you can still get your item postmarked.
We allow this grace period, as we understand that collectors may not always be able to present first day covers for postmarking on the day of issue - you may be coming from interstate, or even overseas. This is the case with any first day of issue postmark, commemorative, or temporary postmark.
If you’d like Australia Post to make you an official postmark, please put your request in writing and send it to:
GPO Box 1777
MELBOURNE VIC 3001
We’ll guide you through the steps involved.
Philatelic mail and regular mail are treated the same way when they go through our letter sorting machines.
Biro marks are used when a postmark cancellation hasn’t been applied effectively.
Stamp dealers operate businesses selling or buying stamps from the public. Contact details for stamp dealers in your area can be found through the Australian Philatelic Traders Association (APTA).
You should also look for details of stamp fairs or exhibitions in your area by visiting the Australian Philatelic Federations (APF).
Postage stamps that are valid for postage in Australia at the current time are those:
- Inscribed "Australia", from 14/02/1966 to current
- Inscribed "Australian Antarctic Territory", from 28/09/1966 to current
- Inscribed "Christmas Island Australia", from 4/03/1994 to current
- Inscribed "Cocos (Keeling) Islands", from 09/07/1969 to 02/09/1979
- Inscribed "Cocos (Keeling) Islands Australia", from 17/02/1994 to current
- Inscribed "Norfolk Island Australia", from 20/09/2016 to current