The Strange Story of Australia’s first stamp.

In 1913 a red 1d (one penny) stamp bearing a kangaroo and a map of Australia superseded the Commonwealth colony stamps being used in individual states.
However, it didn’t enter circulation without controversy.
It was lampooned at the time for being a weak example of Australian culture and created great divides within the relatively newly independent Federation of Australia as to whether the stamp should include the profile of the king, or indeed any British royal symbols.
It was designed as the ultimate result of a stamp design competition held by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The competition was launched in January 1911, and attracted 1051 designs by 533 entrants.
The first prize of £100 was awarded in May to Hermann Altmann, from Victoria, whose design featured a full-face portrait of King George V, complete with six shields bearing the insignia of each state, a kangaroo and an emu.
Second place, with a prize of £50, was tied by Donald Mackay and Edwin Arnold, both of England. Mackay’s stamp bore the Coat-of-Arms and Arnold’s kangaroo.
However, in October, Charles Frazer became the new Postmaster-General.
He took an interest in stamps and was shown the winning entries. Later, describing it to Parliament as “execrable”, he swiftly rejected Altmann’s design, and appointed the Victorian Artist’s Association to find an artist to create a new stamp.
They commissioned a local watercolour artist, Blamire Young, who began working on the design while Frazer publicly hinted to the press: “If a picturesque stamp can be provided in which an outline of Australia is featured, I am certainly favourably inclined towards it.”
After Young submitted several designs to the Post Office, Frazer took a liking to the ones with kangaroos, finding them to be an apt representation of the Commonwealth, and wrote a note:
“1. Get coastline of Aust. 2. Insert Baldy’s Roo (Edwin Arnold, one of those tied for second place in the competition). 3. Produce in colours for different denominats.”
After some more minor changes, the final design was ready by early 1912, though not without some mishaps, including one print that accidentally omitted Tasmania.
Frazer, proud of the finished product, announced the design on 2 April, well before the stamp went on sale on 2 January, 1913.
Back to the original stamp
In June 1913, however, the Labor government which supported Frazer was toppled in a federal election. Agar Wynne, the Liberal government’s new Postmaster-General, announced the kangaroo-and-map stamp was to be replaced by Hermann Altmann’s 1911 competition-winning stamp after all.
But it proved to be too complex, so a simpler design featuring the Royal portrait was produced, and issued in December 1913.
Frazer defended his stamp, saying “A postage stamp is one of the best advertising mediums the country can have,” and arguing that an Australian stamp with a British monarch doesn’t represent Australia.
“It is ironic,” says Richard Breckon, from the Australian Philatelic Federation, “considering the circumstances surrounding the kangaroo and map and George V designs, that stamps of both series co-existed for a quarter of a century. Following the accession of King George VI, a full series of new stamps was issued in 1937-38.
The end had come for the earlier stamps, except that for some reason the 2s Kangaroo-and-map stamp was not replaced at this time.
This last survivor of Charles Frazer’s wish to create ‘an advertisement for Australia’ lingered on until its eventual withdrawal in 1948.”
READ ON via On this day in history: Australia’s first stamp released – Australian Geographic.

The Icy shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

A shrub is covered in ice on the frozen shores of Lake Geneva after strong winds at the lake in Switzerland.
Image Credit: Photograph by Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA
Source: Snow sweeps across Europe – in pictures | World news | The Guardian

The Women of the 1381 Peasants Revolt in England.

Until now the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is largely believed to have been led by a mob of rebel men, but new research shows women played an important role in orchestrating violence against the government.
Today people are used to the idea of women being in the military. Some are already pressing for the right to fight on the front line.
But there’s a growing feeling historians have overlooked their role in medieval rebellions like 1381′s Peasants Revolt.
On 14 June 1381, rebels dragged Lord Chancellor Simon of Sudbury from the Tower of London and brutally beheaded him.
Outraged by his hated poll tax, the insurgents had stormed into London looking for him, plundering and burning buildings as they went.
It was the leader of the group who arrested Sudbury and dragged him to the chopping block, ordering that he be beheaded.
Her name was Johanna Ferrous.
In court documents she was described as “chief perpetrator and leader of rebellious evildoers from Kent”. She also ordered the death of the treasurer, Robert Hales.
As well as leading the rebels into London, she was charged with burning the Savoy Palace – the grandest townhouse in London at the time – and stealing a chest of gold from a duke.
So why are women like Ferrous largely hidden from popular history, yet charismatic rebel leaders such as the “mad priest” John Ball and Wat Tyler dominate in the history books?
Some historians now suggest that sexist attitudes permeated medieval history.

Kite Surfing at Sunset across Hampton Harbour, Dampier.

Kite surfing at sunset.
A kite surfer rides across Hampton Harbour in Dampier, Western Australia, at sunset.
Image Credit: Photograoh by ABC Open Contributor Brett Lewis
Source: Kite surfing at sunset – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sunrise in China’s Guangxi Province by Jesus M. Garcia.

Good Morning Damian Shan.
Major Open overall winner and Open Award Winner in Nature / Landscape.
Taken at sunrise in China’s Guangxi Province, along the Li River, this panorama by photographer Jesus M. Garcia is stitched together from seven vertical images.
Image Credit: Photograph by © Jesus M. Garcia / The Epson International Pano Awards
via Winners of the 2017 Epson International Pano Awards – The Atlantic

The 1953 edition of Fahrenheit 451 was Lethal.

img_5255e53aa7b0aThe Special Edition of Fahrenheit 451 was bound in fire-proof asbestos (the slow and silent killer).
Ray Bradbury’s iconic dystopian novel focused on a future American society where books are outlawed and firemen hunt down and burn books rather than put out house fires.
Shortly after the book was published in 1953, a run of 200 special editions was produced.
These books, bound in white with red cover text, included both a printed signature on the cover and an actual signature inside.
More significantly, the books were bound in covers of asbestos, a fireproof mineral that has been linked to the deaths of millions of workers over many years.
Even in 1953 they were well aware of its dangers.
Image courtesy of Bauman Rare Books.
via Which Book Was Released In An Asbestos Lined Hardcover Edition?