Pictorial Stamps

Pictorial Stamps were a promotional initiative of Braddon's government to raise awareness around the world of Tasmania's scenic views. Inspired by pictorial issues in the USA (1893 and 1898), North Borneo (1894) and British Guiana and New Zealand (1898), they were produced from 1899 until 1912. Initially known as the 'Scenery Stamps', they became more widely known as the 'Tasmanian Pictorial Stamps'.

Despite superb craftsmanship of production, they were initially criticised by the Tasmanian public for both design and size, some seeing them as unwieldy. Negotiations were conducted by Tasmania's Agent-General, Sir Philip Fysh, who in 1899 submitted twelve views for quotation to well-known London stamp printers, De La Rue and Co. Eight views were finally selected: Lake Marion, Mount Wellington, Hobart, Tasman's Arch, Port Davey, Russell Falls, Mount Gould/Lake St Clair and Dilston Falls. The remaining views, Cataract Gorge, St Columba Falls, Lake Hartz and Corra Lynn, were rejected for technical reasons, despite their importance as tourist attractions. Six of the eight views are attributed to official government photographer, JW Beattie, while the ephemeral Dilston Falls is attributed to Stephen Spurling III. The provenance of Tasman's Arch remains uncertain. The stamps were produced in London until 1901, then in Victoria. Today an unused set of Tasmanian Pictorial Stamps attracts a market value of around $100.

Further reading: W Tinsley, Stamps and postal history of Tasmania, London, 1986; K Lancaster, The pictorial stamps of Tasmania, Melbourne, 1986.

Marian Walker