This special sheetlet is being released at the Sydney Stamp and Coin Expo and in this exclusive format, the sheetlet of 10 stamps pays homage not only to Australia’s convict past but also to past postal practices.
The Convict Past stamp issue commemorates the 150th anniversary of the last convict ship to arrive in Australia; the Hougoumont docked at Fremantle in 1868. Part of that issue, the stamp in this sheetlet represents the New South Wales Colony. The Heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks has a long association with Australia’s convict past and was the first government-built convict barracks. Opened in 1819, around 30 years after the arrival of the colony’s first convicts, it served as a principal depot for male convicts in the colony until 1848. Perhaps ironically, it was designed by one of Australia’s notable early convicts, Francis Greenway, considered Australia’s first architect and first official government architect. Hyde Park Barracks marked a shift in convict management by allowing for more systematic control and surveillance of its inmates.
“Specimen” overprints, shown upper right and third left designs, were produced specifically for the collector market. Initially they were hand stamped, but soon were machine printed, as the inks used had greater fastness. Printed on high-denomination stamps between 1913 and 1970, overprints allowed collectors to purchase stamps at a rate lower than face value, which would have been prohibitive for many collectors. Specimen overprints were not without their detractors, some claiming these were lesser artefacts that discerning philatelists would avoid.
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