Stamp Matters - International Postage

International postage rates have been with us as long as we have had a postal service. They were based on weight and mode of transport, either surface mail or airmail. As time went on, surface mail became too slow and international airlines grew in number, so most overseas mail went by air.

In 2000 the government of the day saw fit to include a GST component in the price of postage which allowed an annual increase to the cost of posting a letter, which has been in place since and has largely seen the demise of personal letters in the postal service. Luckily we have had the convenience of e-mails to replace personal letters.

However, UPU rules stipulate that GSTs cannot be applied to international mail, so we saw the advent of the International Post range of stamps. The first issue consisted of eight stamps ranging from 50c to $10.00. They featured iconic views of landmarks from each of the states and the Northern Territory. Since then, there have been a number of issues with the same motifs and they have had the same shape, a long horizontal rectangle. Australian animals have also featured regularly as designs.

Stamps - Devils Marbles, NT

Beginning with the Sydney Olympics range of issues, an International Post stamp was included, featuring the Olympic flag, torch and rings and the Sydney Opera House. A number of issues since have seen the same practice continued with a higher value or values showing the words International Post at the side. They usually are the same shape and size as the other stamps in the issue. The interesting thing about International Post stamps is that they cannot be used on mail within Australia because they do not have the GST component paid. The only way a collector can collect them is buying mint copies or getting used copies from overseas. Consequently, the used stamps command an equal or greater price than the mint stamps. As such, they have become a popular group to collect. Australia Post has yet to include International Post stamps with issues from Australian Territory stamps.

Stamps 1995 Brisbane Stamp Show

Another sub-group of stamps issued by Australia Post was the FRAMA type of stamp, which were sold at coin-in-the -slot machines situated on walls of the larger post offices. They were introduced in 1984 and there were about 200 machines in use. You could buy stamps at the standard letter rate and get change, or you could get any value from 1c to $9.99 with no change. Over the years there were several designs but the stamps were the same size throughout, rectangular and without perforations and the GPOs in each state and territory included the postcode. There were overprints for the Americas Cup and the Sydney Olympics on the current designs. They were discontinued in 2002 because of declining use and increasing maintenance costs to the machines. If you know where to look, the cover plate over the machines can still be found on some post offices