Australian States – New South Wales

New South Wales

New South Wales





Quick reference

General issues: British colony 1850-1856, British colony/Self government 1856-1901, Australian state 1901-1913

Country name on general issues: New South Wales

Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1850-1913

Population: 266 200 in 1856, 1 646 700 in 1911

Political history New South Wales

Postal history New South Wales

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New South Wales is located on the east coast of Australia. Prior to colonization, New South Wales was inhabited by Aboriginal peoples who lived in small bands. The first European to explore the coast of New South Wales was the British explorer James Cook in 1770. Cook claimed the lands up to the border of present day Western Australia for Britain and named them New South Wales. The first actual British settlement was established in 1788, near modern day Sydney. This first settlement was a penal colony, as most of the early settlements in Australia were. The colony of New South Wales was formally established in 1788.

In 1815, free settlers started to arrive. These settlers were pastoralists, bringing sheep to New South Wales for the most important product of the time, wool. Although the number of settlers increased only slowly in the 1820’s and 1830’s, they required ever more land and, eventually, drove out the Aboriginal population. The discovery of gold caused a gold rush in the 1850’s and – although neighboring Victoria profited most – caused a significant increase in the population and the establishment of Sydney as a major city, second only to Melbourne in Victoria.

Starting from the initial settlement in Sydney, the pastoralists, and later the gold miners, moved ever further afield and, as new settlements were set up, new colonies were formed and split from New South Wales. Thus, in 1825, Tasmania – then called Van Diemen’s Land – became a separate colony. South Australia followed in 1836, Victoria in 1851 and Queensland in 1859. The present day Northern Territory was transferred from New South Wales to South Australia in 1863.

New South Wales gained self government in 1856. In 1901, New South Wales joined the federal dominion of Australia – officially the Commonwealth of Australia – and has been a state of the Australian Commonwealth until today. In 1911, New South Wales ceded what is now the Australian Capital Territory so that the federal capital of Canberra could be built – the federal government moved to Canberra in 1927. Furthermore, New South Wales ceded Norfolk Island – 1 400 kilometers east of the Australian mainland in the Pacific – in 1911 and Jervis Bay in 1915, both to become federal territories. With these transfers, the territory of New South Wales came to be defined as we know it today.

By 1900 Sydney had grown to a major city with a population of 497 000. Today Sydney is Australia's largest city with a population of 4 575 000.

By 1900 Sydney had grown to a major city with a population of 497 000. Today Sydney is Australia’s largest city with a population of 4 575 000.

Economically, fishing and whaling were the first significant activities. These were overtaken by wool production in the first part of the 19th century. Agriculture was further developed, in the second half of the 19th century, by adding wheat production and meat and dairy farming to the pallette. The gold rush of the 1850’s led to an economic boom that would last until the late 19th century. In the 20th century manufacturing was developed and, in the late 20th century, services became the most important sector of the New South Wales economy. New South Wales, today, has the highest GDP of the Australian states.

The indigenous Aboriginal population decreased in numbers rapidly in the 19th century. Today the Aboriginal population is concentrated in the Sydney metropolitan area, accounting for 2% of its population. Immigrants, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, predominantly came from the British Isles. After WWII, immigrants from other European countries followed and in recent years immigration from Asian countries has increased significantly. Immigration is a major contributor to population growth until today: 40% of the population in the Sydney metropolitan area is first generation immigrant. Although Victoria grew faster in the 19th century, New South Wales has become the most populous of the Australian states in the 20th century. About two thirds of the population live in the Sydney metropolitan area, making Sydney the largest city in Australia.

Postal history New South Wales

Postal history New South Wales

1888/1889 – 100 years of New South Wales. View of Sydney.

The first stamps were issued in New South Wales in 1850 – the ‘Sydney views’ – showing immigrants arriving in Sydney. The issue was locally engraved and printed – retouches to the plates resulted in many varieties, all in the very high catalog value range. Subsequent issues show the portrait of Queen Victoria in different frames and shapes – attractive square stamps with hexagonal and octagonal frames were issued between 1854 and 1893. Of interest are the watermarks corresponding to  the denomination – and the errors made so that the watermarks did not match the denomination. Shortages of high denomination postage stamps led to revenue stamps being overprinted ‘Postage’ in 1885. In 1888/1889 a set was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the colony of New South Wales – probably one of the first commemorative sets in the world. In 1903, a stamp was inscribed ‘Commonwealth’ to reflect the establishment of the Australian Commonwealth – only Queensland has issued a similar stamp. The stamps of New South Wales were superseded by the issues of the Commonwealth in 1913.

As is the case with some of the other Australian states, New South Wales issued stamps in many varieties of color shade, paper, perforation, plate, and watermark and is, thus, a domain for specialists.

The stamps of New South Wales were used in Victoria until 1851 and in Queensland until 1860. Furthermore, they were used in New Caledonia for international mail until 1862, when they were superseded by the general issues for the French colonies. In the New Hebrides, the stamps of New South Wales were used between 1888 and 1908, when the New Hebrides started issuing their own stamps. Also they were used in the British Solomon Islands between 1896 and 1907, when the Solomon Islands issued stamps of their of. Finally they were used on Norfolk Island between 1877 and 1913, when they were superseded by the issues of the Commonwealth of Australia.

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