Clipper ships were very fast sailing ships widely used in the mid-19th century. They were fast, yacht-like vessels, with three masts and a square rig. They were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, small by later 19th century standards, and had a large total sail area. Clipper ships were mostly constructed in British and American shipyards.

The clipper route from England to Australia and New Zealand, returning via Cape Horn, offered captains the fastest circumnavigation of the world, and hence potentially the greatest rewards; many grain, wool and gold clippers sailed this route, returning home with valuable cargos in a relatively short time. However, this route, passing south of the three great capes and running for much of its length through the Southern Ocean, also carried the greatest risks, exposing ships to the hazards of fierce winds, huge waves, and icebergs. This combination of the fastest ships, the highest risks, and the greatest rewards combined to give this route a particular aura of romance and drama

From the earliest days of European exploration sailing ships were crucial in the development of Australia. Sailing ships carried everything that settlers needed for survival. The journey was often long and dangerous, ranging between six and thirteen weeks, dependent upon weather conditions. Other hazards were hygiene and fire. Clipper ships were known as the greyhounds of the sea from their beginnings in the 1840s represented the pinnacle of sailing ship technology. All the sailing ships featured in this issue have played a role in Australia’s maritime history.


Lisa Christensen, Australia Post Design Studio

Products released in this issue

  • Stamp (2 x 70c, 2 x $1.40)
  • Covers (blank pictorial and gummed)
  • Stamp pack
  • Maxicards
  • Gutter strips

Technical specifications

Issue date
17 February 2015
Issue withdrawal date
31 August 2015
2 x 70c, 2 x $1.40
Stamp design
Lisa Christensen, Australia Post Design Studio
Product design
Lisa Christensen, Australia Post Design Studio
Paper - gummed
Tullis Russell
RA Print
Printing process
Stamp size
37.5mm x 26mm
13.86 x 14.6
Sheet layout
Module of 50
FDI postmark
Hobart, TAS 7000
FDI withdrawal date
18 March 2015

Stamps in this issue

70c Frances Henty

The Frances Henty was constructed in Aberdeen in 1852 and named after the wife of Portland Bay patriarch Thomas Henty. The vessel carried passengers, gold and wool between London and Victoria until at least 1869. The stamp is based on a painting by EC Moore The Frances Henty, 1854.

70c Phoenician

The Aberdeen White Star clipper barque Phoenician of the White Star line was the first clipper ship to come to Australia, arriving in Port Jackson on 21 July 1849 taking 91 days from England. In 1851 she carried to Plymouth the first Australian gold ever to reach Britain – 74 packages of gold dust worth £81,000. The stamp is based on a painting by Frederick Garling, Clipper barque Phoenician, 1850s.

$1.40 Arabian

The stamp is based on an 1840s lithograph by John Raphael Isaac, after a painting by CP Williams. Isaac was medallist to HRH Prince Albert.

$1.40 Monkchester

The clipper barque Monkchester, was painted in 1865 by John Scott, a noted English oil painter from Newcastle. The ship was built in 1865 by Messrs. Peverill for Messrs. A. Strong of North Shields, England.

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.