Culture and heritage


Proposed postage stamp design c1887

This proposed design for a 2½d (two and a half pence, pronounced tuppence ha'penny) stamp may have been developed at the time of the 1888 Centennial celebrations, although ultimately it was never produced. The design clearly alludes to the design of the old convict-era seal, and is also clearly taken from the design on the Etruria or Sydney Cove medallions of 1789.

The design is surrounded by a shield-shape, suggesting that it may have some status as a heraldic emblem. However, the stamp was never printed and used, which may suggest that symbolism was an unwelcome reminder of the convict period. On the eve of the colony's Centennial celebrations with their focus of the future there was little room for reminders of the 'convict stain', and even less for ideas of romanticised Etruscans and 'Noble Savage' Aboriginal peoples.

Nevertheless, these ideas and the hopes they symbolised, were not forgotten in NSW, even if they were officially discouraged. The Wedgwood pottery found a ready market for the 1888 version of the Etruria or Sydney Cove medallion that it produced in its trade-mark blue and white.

Some questions to research:

  1. What classical figures and qualities could those on the stamp be representing?
  2. Is there are other evidence from this time of deliberately 'forgetting' the convict past?

Image Source: State Library of NSW, GPO 1 - 35177 State Library of NSW, Picman

Page last updated: 01 September 2012