Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Article on the 1880 halfpenny overprint and bisect

Queenslander (Brisbane), Saturday 3 January 1891, page 42

The contemplated introduction of two new postage stamps recalls the fact (says a correspondent) that this is not the first occasion a halfpenny stamp has been issued by the Queensland Post Office. At the beginning of 1880— Mr. Charles Hardie Buzacott being Postmaster-General—the British Government discontinued the long-sea mail service via Southampton, and arranged to send all Australian mails via Brindisi, reducing postage rates for letters from 8d. to 7d. per 0.5oz. and for newspapers from 3d. to l.5d. per 4oz. The necessity for the fractional stamp was met by surcharging in black type the word "halfpenny" (reading upwards) over the dull red inartistic penny stamp then current. Even this provisional expedient was not ready quite as soon as needed, and by the first mail which left after the reduction operated here the authorities passed newspapers bearing a penny stamp and a half cut triangularly. The halfpenny stamp was required for less than two months. The rates via Southampton had been 6d. for letters and 1d. for newspapers, and the abolition of these cheaper rates caused such dissatisfaction here that the Postmaster-General cabled the Premier, Mr. (now Sir) Thomas McIlwraith, then in London, who arranged with the Imperial authorities for a farther reduction of the Brindisi rates to 6d. and 1d., which took effect on 1st March, 1880. Since the Brindisi route was established in 1870 the postal rate has come down from 13d. by successive reductions to 9d. 8d., 7d., 6d., and 2.5d. To Brisbane the ocean transit has been reduced by about 4200 miles, whilst the time occupied has fallen from 57 to 37 days, mails having frequently been delivered in 33.5 days from London.