Western Australia - Colonial period: 1861-1900.
Transmission form: WC-TO-2.

General characteristics:

Heading and notes: No form number
Message area: 8 lines of five boxes.
Reverse side: Either more boxes for message (TO-2A) or Regulations and Charges (TO-2B).
Colours (text & form): Black on white with pink embossed image.
Size of form overall: 2A: 207 × 403 mm.
2B: 211 × 412 mm.
(both including centre separation serration).
Distinctive characteristics of this form:
 Orders were placed by the Colonial Government in July 1878 with De La Rue for the design and supply of embossed Telegraph forms and two Telegraph stamps. The development of the embossing die as well as the use of the embossed image philatelically is presented elsewhere. The order was invoiced on 1 February 1879 and supplies were probably received in the Colony during March 1879.

Postmaster Helmich gazetted the use of both the forms and the stamps on 9 April 1879:

"Notice is hereby given that impressed stamp telegraph message forms and adhesive telegraph stamps, which may be used in payment for telegraphic messages, have been obtained from England and may be procured at the General Post Office and the Post and Telegraph Offices throughout the Colony".

The embossed telegraph forms were available either as single forms or bound into books of 20 forms.

Front of a form included in one on the 20-form bound books. The text above FROM and TO finishes with "..inside of the front cover".

Reverse side has boxes number at the right to 140.
The stop after AUSTRALIA is above the S in WESTERN.

WC-TO-2B Front of a form printed in single sheets. The text above FROM and TO finishes with "..printed on the other side".

Reverse side (behind indicium) has Regulations and Scale of Charges while the reverse side of other half is blank.

The sheet form is rarer than the form taken from a book.
The stop after AUSTRALIA is above the R in WESTERN.

Status Auctions February 2007 Lot 1791 offered a sheet form without counterfoil.

Number used and subsequent use.

No estimate of how many embossed forms were actually used for telegram transmission forms can be made - nor how many may have been sold in either sheet form or in books. One estimate was that:

In 1897, in a discussion of how used stamps could be "resuscitated" for re-use, mention is made that "The Telegraph Department formerly sold their telegraph forms, with the stamps attached, for waste paper. That practice has been stopped in view of recent discoveries, and the forms and defaced stamps are now destroyed in the office itself"
(The West Australian, 21 January1897).

In 1902, someone in the Post and Telegraph Office was wondering if there were any stamped telegraph forms still in stock. It was subsequently determined that "there should be" approximately 42,000 single forms remaining (compared to 25,000 having been printed) and 2,242 books of 20 forms each (compared to the 250 books which were prepared for the 5,000 bound forms). There must have therefore been a second order but it is not recorded.

The response to the inquiry said that the forms should be regarded as obsolete and written off but there was no record of them being destroyed or where they might be.

Someone did however know where at least some forms had been hidden - Frank Lewis Dolton. Mr. Dolton's actions show that at least 22 books of embossed telegraph forms were still in stock in 1905!!! Nothing has been heard since.

New Suggestion.

Meanwhile, after the 1902 Commonwealth Act came into force, the Western Australian public (and the rest of Australia) were "forced" to purchases stamps to affix to the telegram transmission forms. One frustrated WA person suggested an excellent idea - why not have a telegram form with a 1/- embossed image! His letter to the Editor read:

West Australian, 12 October 1904

To the Editor. Sir,

I would like to make a suggestion which, I am sure, would benefit the Postal Department and save considerable time to the public, and, incidentally, much impiety on the part of travellers hurrying to catch a train. The suggestion I would make is that telegraph forms be either stamped with a 9d stamp or embossed, as I take it the majority of telegrams sent cost that amount.

The rules of the service are that the sender has to attach stamps, and I can speak from experience of the inconvenience caused. On one occasion I had to forfeit my change, because I could not wait while the rather supercilious lady attendant leisurely went about her business, quite regardless of my hurry to catch the train. I hurriedly suggested she should attach the stamp but she lifted up her eyebrows and said "Against the rules". You can imagine I did not feel too kindly towards the system, for these unnecessary rules of red tape do not tend to piety. I hope the Department will adopt my suggestion, as, I feel sure hundreds of busy travellers could bear me out as to the inconvenience caused.

Yours, etc., JANIUS.
Perth, October 11.


Details of use and rarity.

Schedule number Earliest recorded date Rarity rating
TO-2A None Unknown used. R even unused.
TO-2B None Unknown used.