The year 1897 was an important year because it was the year in which Queen Victoria celebrated her 60 years on the throne. As part of the overall celebrations, the New South Wales Government planned special stamp issues.

One issue being prepared for the "Record Reign" issue was a set of three stamps for a definitive issue. The Governor of NSW also suggested the concept for a second issue of two stamps related to a special Charity which was of significance to Her Majesty. The five stamps are sometimes casually referred to as the "(Diamond) Jubilee issue" although they were issued at different times and with very different intent.

The view at the time was that funds were required to establish a Consumptive Home at which those suffering from tuberculosis could be treated. Detailed discussion of this disease and its treatment at the time as well as on the stamp issue itself can be accessed elsewhere.

The work of planning and printing new stamp issues was made more complicated in 1897 by the death of the NSW Government Printer Charles Potter. A printer with considerable experience in the private sector - William Applegate Gullick - was appointed as Potter's replacement and he held that position until 1922.

On receipt of the request from the Governor, Gullick prepared three proposals on which to base an issued design. Peck (1986) notes that some of these designs survive but are in the archives. The production of the designs required the use of 11 lithographic stones.

The NSW Government Gazette, dated 26th June 1897, noted the following:


In accordance with the provisions of the 16th section of the Postage Act, 31 Vic. No. 4, His Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has been pleased to approve of the issue of two Postage Stamps of the respective values of One Penny and Two Pence Halfpenny, of special designs, and bearing, in addition to the inscriptions denoting their postal value, the values of One Shilling and Two Shillings and Sixpence respectively.

It is intended to sell these stamps at the higher rates, and to devote the amount realized in excess of the denoted postal values to the Fund for establishing a Hospital for Consumptives in commemoration of Her Majesty's Record Reign.

The period of sale of these special stamps will be limited to two months, and the number issued for sale will not exceed 40,000 of the 1s. and 10,000 of the 2s. 6d. value".

The best and most complete description of the problem of tuberculosis and the role intended for the Consumptive Home as well as details of the stamp is given by Dr. John Pearn (1987). It was first published in the Medical Journal of Australia. The article was later reprinted in Sydney Views (May 1988). It can be enjoyed by following this link.

The Charity stamps were two of only three NSW stamps to be printed by lithography - the other being the 1859 lithographic transfer of the 2d. diadem.

With this background, the two stamps of the world's first Charity issue - now referred to generally as semi-postal - were released by the New South Wales Post Department. They were quickly sold out with many purchasers considering they made a good investment. An example of the December 1897 correspondence to a soon-to-be-disappointed collector is shown below.