The Essays

As with the 1897 Hospital Fund issue, a public competition was held supported by the wave of strong patriotic feeling for the cause - if not for the concept of the issue. The plan was to have two denominations and suggestions could be entered for one denomination or for both.

The first prize for each denomination was 5 guineas (£5/5/-) while the second prize for each denomination was 2 guineas (£2/2/-).

The attention of the community of (hopeful) stamp designers was attracted and 120 entries were received. All entries were submitted under a nom-de-plume. The sole judge was Mr. W. A. Watt, the Postmaster-General of Victoria.

Vic 1900 Essay The sole surviving essay of the 1900 competition.

Titled "Victoria Cross" and submitted by Sands & MacDougall. Annotations by W.A.W. (Postmaster-General Watt).

Prestige Philately, April 2006, Lot 421.

The auction catalogue states the following:
"original stamp size handpainted artwork for a 2d Victoria Cross design in black & grey highlighted with China white affixed to a larger piece (60x92mm), the design with "Postage" added at sides, the card endorsed "2nd prize/(initials") at top & "1d One penny" at base. A spectacular essay of the highest significance.

In all of Australian philately, this is one of only two post office stamp competition essay prizewinning designs in private hands, and the only such Victorian essay available to collectors. Even more significantly, it is the only prizewinning design - Colonial or Commonwealth - to be adopted for an issued stamp. On a wider stage, this is the only pre-WWII stamp of the entire British Empire to feature the Victoria Cross, the Empire's highest bravery award".

The Proofs.

Proofs were taken from the steel dies engraved by Samuel Reading for both denominations. Only seven were printed - all on wove paper:

2d red=brown
2d (2/-) die proof in brown-red and printed on thin wove paper (large border not shown).
Only known example in this colour.

Prestige Philately January 2004 Lot 615.
Prestige Philately August 2012 Lot 275.

2d orange proof
2d (2/-) die proof in orange and printed
on thin wove paper.
One of two known examples in this colour. One example has a wide border (ex Purves) while the other is trimmed to have border of about 6 mm all around.

Rod Perry Auction, September 1993 (?) - wide border;
Prestige Philately January 2004 Lot 615;
Prestige Philately August 2012 Lot 275 - narrow border.

Green proof



2d (2/-) die proof in green and printed on pale green wove paper (showing large border).
Only known example in this colour.

Provenance: Purves.

Rodney Perry April 1994 Lot 1258.
Millennium Auctions Rarities October 2006
Lot 668.


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