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Top 100 Rare Australian Stamps: An Exploration of History and Value

August 21, 2023
2 mins read

Key Takeaways:

  1. The rich tapestry of Australian history is reflected through its postage stamps.
  2. From colonial times to the 20th century, the rarity of certain stamps has significantly increased their value.
  3. The stamps not only offer insight into philately but also reflect societal shifts and milestones in Australia’s journey.
  4. Some of the most valuable Australian stamps are linked to errors or limited print runs, making them treasures for collectors.

Colonial Beginnings: The Monarch and More

The Pioneering Days of Stamps in Australia

Australia’s intricate history with the British Empire has greatly influenced its stamp designs. When Captain Cook claimed Australia for the British in 1770, it paved the way for colonization and subsequently the release of various colonial stamps.

From 1850 onwards, various colonies started issuing their stamps, with New South Wales taking the lead. The iconic 1850 Classic Queen Victoria stamp is a testament to this era. It garnered significant attention when a strip of four of these rare stamps sold for A$94,875 in Sydney in 2006. Its limited print run and the survival of just a few make it a prized possession.

The Unification and the Dawn of the Kangaroo Era

The union of the Australian colonies in 1901 laid the groundwork for a unified postal system. But it wasn’t until 1911-12 that we saw the birth of the famous “Kangaroo and Map” stamps. Despite the initial hiccup in stamp designs due to an unsuccessful Commonwealth Stamp Design Competition, the subsequent designs symbolized the new unified Australia.

Two notable stamps from this era are the 1911 Kangaroo & Map Essay Stamp and the 1912 Black and Rose Kangaroo and Map Stamp, fetching values over A$142,000 and $138,000 respectively in auctions.

Tales of Kings and Errors: A Philatelist’s Dream

The Tale of the Red King

One of the most enthralling tales from Australia’s philatelic history is that of the Red King stamps. King Edward VIII’s brief reign in 1936 saw the printing of stamps bearing his image. However, his abdication led to the destruction of most of these stamps, making the survivors incredibly rare. Today, only six are known to exist, with a block of six 2-Penny Scarlets selling for over A$282,000 in 2014.

The Mistake Worth a Fortune: The Inverted Swan Stamp

Mistakes in the philatelic world can often lead to treasures, as demonstrated by the Inverted Swan Stamp. Issued by Western Australia in 1855, this stamp became an instant classic due to an error: the central motif was printed upside down. Only 15 examples of these stamps have survived, making them a true gem for collectors. One of these was sold in 2018 for nearly A$290,000.


The top 100 rare Australian stamps not only serve as a testament to the country’s rich postal history but also mirror its cultural, societal, and political shifts. From the days of colonization to the tales of kings and the prized errors, these stamps tell stories that go beyond their face value.

For philatelists and historians alike, these stamps serve as tangible pieces of Australia’s past, offering insights into its evolution over the centuries. Their value, both monetary and historical, ensures that they’ll remain sought after for generations to come. Whether you’re an avid stamp collector or just an enthusiast, diving into the world of Australia’s rare stamps promises a journey filled with discovery and wonder.

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About Levi Keswick

LeviKeswick serves as a vibrant hub for diverse individuals to share their stories, absorb and contribute to emerging fashion trends, lifestyle concepts, and innovative ideas. We offer valuable insights and advice, amalgamating information painstakingly curated by experts in the field, alongside fashion connoisseurs and influential social media personalities.