Queensland - Colonial period: 1861-1900.
Ordinary rate transmission form: QC-TO-4

General characteristics:

Heading and notes: Post & Telegraph Department.
Front: Information.
Reverse side: Message area of three lines after the address.
Colours (text & form): Green on white.
Size of form overall: 80 × 205 mm including counterfoil of 47.5 mm.
Distinctive characteristics of this form:

The 4th type of Queensland transmission form is a sub-set of the larger issue of the Queensland Postal Notes. Hence the details of the 1/- transmission form must be presented with reference to the details of the other printings of the 1/- note:

  1. Background to the issue of the Postal Notes and the use for telegrams;
  2. Overall approach to printing the Postal Notes;
  3. First printing (QC-TO-4A);
  4. Second printing (QC-TO-4B);
  5. Third printing (QC-TO-4C);



The Queensland Post Card and Postal Note Act was assented to on 21 September 1880. The Colony thus became the first British Dominion to introduce the Postal Note system - preceeding its introduction in England by about two months.

In the Brisbane Courier of Saturday 30 October 1880:

"new regulations in connection with the issue and sale of postal cards and postal notes under the provisions of the Act recently passed are published in to-day's Government Gazette and both cards and notes will be issued at the General Post Office on and after Monday.

The postal notes are of four classes, each distinguished by a different color:

  • the shilling note being printed in green ink;
  • the half-crown in red;
  • the five shillings in blue; and
  • the ten shillings in lilac.

They are lithographed at the Government office and both design and execution are creditable to the department.

For the present, postal notes will only be issued at the General Post Office but, after December 1, they will be obtainable at the post offices at Ipswich, Toowoomba, Warwick, Dalby, Roma, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Blackall, Aramac, Clermont, Mackay, Bowen, Townsville, Charters Towers and Cooktown. These offices, together with the General Post Office in Brisbane, will be the paying ones and we understand that in course of time other offices will be appointed wherever banking accommodation is to be obtained in the same town.

It is not, however, anticipated that every person who receives a postal note will at once go to the nearest post office and get it cashed, but it is more likely that it will be found convenient in the bush to use the notes as change, the store-keepers and others who receive them for goods taking them to the post office whenever they have accumulated any number. A note if desired may, for the sake of additional security in transmission, be made payable only to the person to whom it is sent by endorsing the name of the recipient across the face; but otherwise every note will be payable to the bearer on demand.

The numerous ways in which such notes may be made convenient to the public will readily suggest themselves, but we may mention one that has been brought under our notice - namely, that of paying rates to a divisional board at a distant town where perhaps there may be no money-order office. We understand that already a number of the boards have applied for the establishment of money-order offices for this purpose, but now that postal notes are to be brought into use, there will be no necessity for the department to incur the expense of additional money-order offices.

The shilling postal note also has space on the back for a ten-word telegram which, by being written thereon, can be sent to any town in the colony, the note itself covering the cost of transmission. This will be a great boon to persons residing at a distance from telegraph offices who may need to send telegrams to town through the post or by messenger.

The use of postal cards is too well known to need explanation, but we may state that the Queensland cards are rather larger than those used in the adjoining colony, and afford sufficient space for any communications likely to be sent by their means. There are two kinds - the single post card bearing a penny stamp and the double card with two penny stamps for a reply. These stamps will carry the card to any post office within the colony and it is announced that postal cards may be obtained at any post office within the colony on and after Monday next.

Of course it will take some little time for the public to become accustomed to the use of these new conveniences but we are sure that ere long they will be generally availed of and that the introduction of postal cards and postal notes, as well as the use of postage stamps in payment of telegrams and in place of duty stamps, together with the "urgent" telegram system, will always serve to mark Mr. Buzacott's tenure of office in the Post and Telegraph Departments as one of progress".

The system in no way was intended to supersede the Money-Order system then in place but to complement it through the emphasis on sending small sums of money which, having the same status as cheques, could be cash or crossed and be made payable to order or through a Bank.

By 1888, sales of Postal Notes were decreasing in favour of Money Orders. So the new Post & Telegraph Act of 1890 increased the Money Order fees. The use of Postal Notes to other Colonies began in 1892. The Commonwealth took responsibility for the Notes as from 1912 until they were replaced by the Postal Order system on 31 May 1966.

A detailed story about the Queensland Postal Notes including the numbers sold is given in Elsmore (2005).

Overall approach to printing the Postal Notes.

Four master plates of electro-coppered nickel were prepared by Perkins Bacon Printers of London but sent to the Queensland Lithographic Office for printing. The image for the fee was the 1860 Chalon head with the die being inserted into the new frame.

The notes were printed in sheets of eight notes arranged in 4 rows of 2.

The Postal Note/Telegram Transmission form was issued in two slightly different formats and printed on papers with two different watermarks.

They were bound, it appears, in two different types of Booklets. Printings 1 and 3 were bound into larger books with multiple notes on show at one time (see below). Notes from Printing 2 were bound into single booklets of 50 notes.

The printings can be distinguished as follows:

    1. Printing 1 (QC-TO-4A):
      Printed on paper with a watermark ELECTOR'S RIGHTS QUEENSLAND.
      The butt has NO words under the "No....".
      There are serrations along the top and/or lower edges of the tear-off note section.

    2. Printing 2 (QC-TO-4B):
      Printed on paper with a watermark ELECTOR'S RIGHTS QUEENSLAND.
      The butt for Format 1 has the words POSTAL & TELEGRAPH DEPARTMENT under the "No...."
      as well as the words "Issuing Officer" at the base of the butt.
      No serrations along the top or lower edges of the tear-off note section.
      All known forms from Printing 2 are overprinted SPECIMEN in violet.

    3. Printing 3 (QC-TO-4C):
      Printed on paper with a watermark QUEENSLAND/CROWN/ POSTAL NOTE.
      The butt has NO words under the "No....".
      There are serrations along the top and/or lower edges of the tear-off note section.

There are no printing differences in the tear-off postal note amongst the three formats.

1. First printing (QC-TO-4A):

When these notes were first printed in September-October 1880, there was no appropriate watermarked paper for use and so electoral paper was used with a watermark of ELECTOR'S RIGHTS QUEENSLAND. Electoral Right was a certification that a person was bona fide in terms of their being a citizen living and being enrolled in a particular district and "being qualified in respect to either Manhood or Womanhood".

Examples of the documents attending the right are shown below. The NSW document shows one type of ELECTORAL RIGHT watermark.

Elector's Right document issued by New South Wales "in respect of Manhood" to enable the holder to vote.

28 April 1898.

Elect right Qld
Provenance: Dave Elsmore.
Elector's Right document issued by Victoria "in respect of Womanhood" to enable the holder to vote. Elect rights Vic

During the first printing of the Queensland Postal Notes, the paper was fed into the machine with any orientation and so the watermarks run in any direction as well as being readable from either side.

TO-5A Present front
Provenance: Dave Elsmore.


A Postal Note from a Presentation Set of all four values.


  • perforated at base only;
  • the watermark is rotated clockwise and is read top to bottom from the front;
  • has SPECIMEN stamped in small sans-serif capital letters to the right of "No.".
TO-5A Present rear


Reverse side of the above Postal Note.

Spec twice
Postal Note produced in the first format.
Offered by Status Auctions March - August 2014.


Unused Transmission Form/ Postal Note.


  • perforated at top and base;
  • the watermark is rotated anti-clockwise and is read from the bottom to the top from the front;
  • has SPECIMEN stamped in small sans-serif capital letters to the right of "No." as well as in large letters. Given the previous form, it is very likely that this form was also originally in a presentation set.

Note that for the first printing (QC-TO-5A):

For some printings at least, the Postal Notes were issued to Post Offices in uncut but perforated sheets of 4 forms.

2. Second printing (QC-TO-4B):

It is surmised that the second printing followed soon after the first. This printing is distinguished by:

QC-TO-4_130 QC-TO-4B:

Front side of Postal Note and Telegram transmission form numbered 130.

Tab is at the left and attached with serrations.

Watermark should be viewed from the back and reads from base to top.

TO-4 rev Reverse side of Postal Note and Telegram transmission form numbered 111.

Complete with tab.

Shows part of the watermark [ELE]CTOR'[S]
[Q]UEEN[SLAND] which is readable viewed from the back and when read from base to top.

These forms were issued in a Booklet of 50 as shown below:

Closed booklet showing plain cover with no markings of any kind.

Form in opened booklet.

Tabs shown at left with number 103 on top.

The first form still included in complete form is 141 and it is followed by all forms to 149.

This is the only known example of a still intact partial booklet. The known forms have no duplicate numbers and they are (as shown below) between 105 and 149.

Provenance: Discovered by Ron Butler (U.K.).

Spink September 2004 Lot 1320. At the time of that sale, the booklet contained 33 postal notes.
Jack Harwood Postal Note Collection.
Prestige Philately Sale 198 November 2014 Lot 2164 - now down to 9 postal notes.

See the list elsewhere for at least 8 of the 33 postal notes which were sold on Ebay after the 2004 Spink sale.

The postal notes were of course also used for ordinary purposes and not just to pay transmission costs. There are no known notes used for telegraphic purposes as these would have been retained by the telegraph officials for accounting purposes. There are a few notes known with a date stamp which would have been sold to the public for ordinary use to transmit money.

The numbers hand stamped on the forms which have been recorded so far for the second printing of the Postal Notes together with known condition, Provenance and watermark details are provided elsewhere.


3. Third printing (QC-TO-4C):

The third printing reverted to the original details on the butt bound into the booklet:

The third printing of the 1/- postal note was made on paper with a different watermark.

This second watermark showed QUEENSLAND above a Crown above POSTAL NOTE.

The sheets enabled the printing of eight notes on each sheet in four rows of 2 notes.

As with the first and second printings, the paper was fed into the machine with random orientation.

Provenance: Dave Elsmore.

An example of a postal note from the third printing is shown below:

TO-5C IsisProvenance: Dave Elsmore. QC-TO-5C.
Isisford date stamp of
12 April 1890.

Printed on paper with the watermark of Queensland/Postal Note with Crown between.

The left margin cuts through the left side of the decoration very close to where the serrations might have been. It is therefore possible that this note was trimmed during or after removing it from the book in which is had been bound.

Given the poor quality perforating, maybe the vertical perforation was too far to the left.

One of life's little mysteries.

TO-5C rever QC-TO-5C.

Reverse side of postal note with
an Isisford date stamp of
12 April 1890.

Shows the QUEENSLAND/ CROWN/ POSTAL NOTE watermark inverted and able to be read from the reverse side.

TO-5C 84422
It is interesting to note that both this form and the previous form
were both signed by the same Issuing Officer.
A second example from the third printing. Again there is no tab at the left and the left margin cuts through the decoration. The inverted watermark can be read from the front.

A similar note with no tab at the left and the left margin cutting through the decoration at about the same point (as is shown here to the left) has the number 77860.

It has a date stamp across the Fee Stamp of Kilkivan
26 January 1892
(see Status Auction 236, December 2006, Lot 1519).

Folder The official records show that the Postal Notes from the first and third printings were bound into books with all three denominations in each book - the denominations being 1/-, 2/6 and 5/-.

Only the 1/- Postal Note had the reverse side printed with telegraphic information.


Image from Australian National Archives
image J2879 QTH31


Details of use and rarity.

Schedule number Earliest recorded date Rarity rating
TO-4A None Not known used. RR (with Specimen overprint)
RRRR if with genuine date stamp.
TO-4B None Not known used.
TO-4C None 12 April 1890 at Isisford.

Thanks to Dave Elsmore for his significant advice and help in unravelling the story behind these postal note transmission forms.