Thursday, 26 May 2016

Australia 1966 - First Decimal Definitives

On 14 February 1966 Australia's currency changed from the Australian Pound, which was introduced in 1910, to Decimal Currency. Accordingly a new set of definitives were required for the new decimal values. Below is the actual TV commercial informing Australians of the changes to come.


It was decided to use the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Anthony Buckley for the 1c to 4c denominations. This was not the first time the Buckley portrait was used for an Australian definitive. It was previously used on the 1963 5d definitive and the 5d Royal Visit stamp.


For the new 1966 decimal definitives, the design of the 5d stamp was significantly reworked. The circular frame was removed and the portrait of the queen somewhat enlarged.

In order to save money, it was decided that a single master die would be engraved leaving a blank space in the top left corner for different values to be inserted later. The undenominated master die was engraved by Bruce Stewart. As mentioned above, this design was printed in four different values on 14 February 1966. 1c Red-brown, 2c Yellow-green, 3c Grey-green, 4c Red. The four cent denomination was the standard letter rate at the time. Below is a lovely a booklet pane of the 4c denomination.

Three further denominations of this design were printed, reflecting increases in the standard letter rate. The 5c Blue on 29 September 1967.

The 6c Orange on 28 September 1970.

The 7c Purple on 1 October 1971.

An 8c denomination had been prepared to be issued in 1973, but by this time intaglio printing was being replaced by the cheaper photogravure printing method. Sadly, this lovely set of engraved definitives was replaced by the Marine Life series, which was photogravure printed, on 11 July 1973.

Until next time...

Stay Engraver Crazy!


  1. Wow, I'm so glad I bumped into this post of yours because I didn't know who engraved these gorgeous stamps and was about to add them to a collection I was about to sell! So my questions are:
    1) Where did you read about Stewart being the engraver?
    2) Do you happen to know who engraved the 1968-1973 famous Australians series? I know Lyell Dolan did some of them, but would like to know for all stamps issued.
    3) Do you maybe also know who engraved the 1958 Christmas Island QE2 definitives? I presume it's G Lissenden but would love confirmation.

    1. Glad it helped :) Here are my answers, to the best of my knowledge:
      1) I got the name of the engraver for the master die from Brusden & White Specialsed catalogue. Stewart engraved the master die, but it is unknown who did the secondary dies in which the values were added.
      2) The Brusden & White does not list an engraver for the 1968-73 Famous Australians at all for some reason, but, like you I only know that Lyell Dolan did a handful of them.
      3) Yes, I believe they are George Lissenden, based on the Australian High Values.