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Stamps

All you want to know!

Fast stamp facts

More fun and intriguing facts about stamps.

  • In 1879, the Belgian town of Liege tried using cats to deliver mail. 37 cats were employed to carry bundles of letters to villages within a 37km radius. They proved unreliable and the experiment was short-lived!

  • The smallest ever stamp, issued in 1863 by the Columbian state of Bolivar, was only 9.5mm x 8mm. Imagine trying to find an image that looks good that small!

  • In 1977, Australia issued a stamp called "Surfing Santa", with a picture of Santa wearing shorts and riding a wave, but a lot of people weren't happy with this stamp as a Christmas stamp.

  • Many old stamps were printed using an engraving process called "intaglio". The design was engraved or etched into a flat metal plate, using lots of finely spaced lines to produce different shades. Originally this was all done by hand! The engraver was a highly skilled craftsperson and must have had a lot of patience.

  • Australia's youngest stamp designer is Holly Alvarez of Perth. She was only five years old when her design for a 1983 Christmas stamp was chosen in a national competition for primary school children.

  • Since 1968 stamps have been issued to celebrate Australia's participation in the Olympic Games.

  • If you love reptiles or insects, stamps are for you! These animals have been featured on more than 50 Australian fauna stamps issued since 1982.

  • Part of every stamp is invisible to our eyes and can only be seen by Australia Post's sorting machines. A special phosphorescent coating on each stamp only shows up under an ultraviolet light. This light is what the sorting machine uses to position the stamp for cancellation (postmarking) when a letter is sorted for delivery.

  • Early stamps had no perforations; they had to be cut from the sheets with scissors.