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Kangaroo and Map: 1913-2013 stamp from Australia

Kangaroo and Map: 1913-2013 stamp from Australia
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The Kangaroo and Map stamp issue is a significant part of Australian history. It was released at the Australia 2013 Federation Internationale de Philatelie (FIP) World Stamp Expo in Melbourne on May 10.

In 2013 the centenary of the first Australian Commonwealth postage stamp issue is marked. For some 60 years prior to its release the colonies had produced their own postage stamps. This issue is the last in the Colonial Heritage stamp series (2010-13), a celebration of Australia's rich philatelic heritage.

The World Stamp Expo gives to Australia the opportunity to celebrate the centenary of the Kangaroo and Map with the rest of the philatelic world. While technically the Kangaroo and Map was not, of course, a colonial stamp, in this commemorative context it forms a bookend to the colonial period of stamp design and production.

Released 12 years after Federation, Australian first national stamp had a troubled beginning. This was partly due to the complexity of a changing postal administration, but it was also political in nature; the revolving office-holder of postmastergeneral (11 occupants of the ministry between 1901 and 1912) and the incumbents' ideas around appropriate content pointed to competing narratives of nationhood.

Despite convening a specialist stamp board and holding an international competition to obtain an outstanding design, Australia's first national stamp issue - the Kangaroo and Map - proved a contentious result.

The design of no single artist, it engendered widespread anger that the King's head was absent, mockery that a kangaroo should be adopted as a national symbol and dislike for a design that was considered rudimentary compared with the ornate designs of the time. Since its turbulent release, however, the Kangaroo and Map design has gained much respectability.

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