Queen's Birthday 2016

Release date: 5 April 2016

The Queen’s Birthday 2016 stamp issue, released on 5 April 2016, celebrates the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Such an occasion feels like the right time to take a look at Queen’s Birthday stamps in Australia.

Introduction of the annual Queen’s Birthday stamp

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the most featured person on Australian stamps. The Queen was depicted on lower denomination definitive stamps issued between 1953 and 1971 and on all base rate definitive stamps until 1973.

This was a significant shift, as the reigning monarch had been featured on these stamps for 60 years, save for the controversial and short‐lived replacement of monarch stamps with Kangaroo and Map definitive stamps issued in 1913. However, unlike in 1913, the change had more to do with developments in printing capabilities than it did with making any kind of political statement.

That said, while commemorative stamps have long been issued to mark royal occasions, such as the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 1953 and the Royal Visit in 1954, following the abolition of queen’s head definitive stamps, only two royal‐themed commemorative stamps were produced between 1973 and 1979.

In an attempt to satisfy those members of the public who wished to see more royalty on stamps, Australia Post became the only postal authority in the Commonwealth to release an annual Queen’s Birthday stamp.

The Australia Post Queen’s Birthday stamp has been produced every year since 1980, although in 2002, 2003 and 2004, stamps were issued to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Queen’s accession, coronation and first Australian royal tour respectively, and in 2012 to commemorate the Queen’s diamond jubilee year.

Selecting the content

As with all stamps, selecting the most appropriate content and achieving an effective design can be complex. In the context of Queen’s Birthday stamps, the difficulty lies in the fact that one of the most recognisable faces in the world appears on a stamp each year.

So the challenge becomes ensuring that each stamp issue is both unique and yet familiar or ‘of its kind’ – in other words, very much a Queen’s Birthday stamp.

Indeed, this potential difficulty was anticipated early on. The first five years of Queen’s Birthday stamps alternated between a portrait of Her Majesty and some other kind of royal symbol, in an attempt to ensure variety.

The 1981 stamp featured the Queen’s Australian flag; the 1983 stamp featured HMY Britannia sailing in Sydney Harbour; and the 1985 stamp featured the recently introduced Order of Australia Medal.

Technical details

  • Issue date

    5 April 2016
  • FDI withdrawal

    4 May 2016
  • Denomination

    1 x $1,  1 x $2.75
  • Stamp design

    Sharon Rodziewicz. Australia Post Design Studio
  • Product design

    Sharon Rodziewicz, Australia Post Design Studio
  • Paper (gummed)

    Tullis Russell Red Phos
  • Printer (gummed)

    RA Printing
  • Printing process

    Offset lithography
  • Stamp size

    26mm x 37.5mm
  • Minisheet size

    105mm x 70mm
  • Perforations

    14.6 x 13.86
  • Sheet layout

    Module of 50
  • National postmark

    Elizabeth TAS 5112
  • Issue withdrawal date

    31 October 2016
  • Printing process

    Offset lithography

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