Photo opportunity

Tasmania’s pictorial series of 1899 proved a perfect showcase for the colony’s scenery, even if its recess-printed heyday was all too brief

Report by John Winchester

Tasmania 1899-1900 6d lake, the top value in a pictorial set of eight, illustrating Dilston Falls


Although it was not evident at the time, the first step in creating one of Tasmania’s most attractive stamp issues was the appointment of Scots-born John Beattie as official government photographer in 1896.

Beattie built his reputation on recording Tasmania’s wild landscapes, creating most of the images which would adorn its pictorial series of 1899-1912.

It was in April 1899 that the colonial government asked its agent-general in London to approach the printer De La Rue with proposals for the issue.

He forwarded 12 photographs by Beattie, eight to be used for the required denominations and four as back-up options. All were to be recess-printed in large format, either horizontally or vertically.

De La Rue rejected the suggested images for the 2d and 3d values, substituting one of the Beattie back-ups and an image of its own; it would later make a substitution for the 2½d too.

The printer also opined that the higher values should be printed in two colours, but prudence won the day and the issued stamps would be monochrome.

The engraving work was handed to Leonard Phillips, just finishing his apprenticeship, who placed each view in a different frame.

Read the full article in Stamp Magazine September 2017

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