Australia’s first commemorative stamp was issued on 9 May 1927 to mark the opening of the first Parliament House in Canberra. Subsequently, issues have appeared regularly commemorating Australian achievements and landmarks in Australian history. The first Australian multi-coloured stamps appeared on 31 October 1956 as part of the Melbourne Olympic Games commemorative issue. These were printed by a foreign company. The first Australian-printed multi-coloured stamp, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Australian Inland Mission, was issued on 5 September 1962.
I received an airmail letter from the UK the other day and of course it had an English stamp with the queen’s profile. I suspect most would know that UK stamps are the only ones in the world that do not have the name of its country printed on it. But do you know why? It is because a schoolmaster first invented the humble adhesive postage stamp in England. His name was Rowland Hill and it was issued as a ‘penny black’ on May 6th 1840. If you ever see a stamp without the name of the country you will always know it is English. So what has this to do with the Christian?
In my last church, as Senior Pastor, one of my youth came in wearing a cross on a chain around his neck. I asked him why he had it on. He told me that he wanted people to know he was a Christian. I suggested that it might not be the best way to advertise his faith. I reminded him of James 2:18. James 2:18. James 2:18. James 2:18. “But some will say, ‘you have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show my faith by my works.” We recognise the English stamp because it does not advertise its country of origin. Christians should be recognised not by wearing crosses on chains or Bible texts on tee shirts but by their lives. One of the first verses I ever committed to memory was Matthew 5:16. Matthew 5:16. Matthew 5:16. Matthew 5:16. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
For most, Australian philately proper begins on 2 January 1913, 12 years after federation, with the issue of a red 1d (one penny) Kangaroo and Map, the design of which was adopted in part from the entry that won the Stamp Design Competition. This was the first definitive stamp with the sole nomenclature “Australia”. Although the delay between federation and the first stamps had several causes, one of the major reasons was political wrangling regarding the design. There was a considerable amount of opposition to any inclusion of British royal symbols or profiles.
STAMPS BLOTTED OUT.
The ardent collector of postage stamps will recognise the obliteration mark showing the mail has been paid for. The British Post Office between 1860 and 1885 first used this mark. Philately, so named from the Greek Philos (love) and Ateleia (tax exemption), began when the postage stamp was introduced with its special function of making a letter tax-free to the recipient, in contrast to the former method of charge on delivery. The obliterations simply cancelled out the stamps to avoid re-use. Ironically, time has made certain stamps so marked more valuable.
SINS BLOTTED OUT:
When the Bible speaks of obliteration, or blotting out, it means absolute erasing and making clean. In Isaiah 44:22 Isaiah 44:22 Isaiah 44:22 Isaiah 44:22, we read: “I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.” And Peter’s second sermon in Acts 3:19: Acts 3:19: Acts 3:19: Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins be blotted out, when times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Happy then is the person whose sins have been blotted out. Are you in this category? We can learn quite a lot from the humble postage stamp and how much more valuable it becomes when the postmark is applied, and how much more valuable we become when our sins are blotted out.
Leslie Scott, Kilcoy, Queensland