First published in Australian Stamp Monthly (August, 1963) and written by L. J. Tyler.
Late Fee cancellations of Australia were were the subject of a article by Mr. Fred Wilde, which was published in the “A.S.M.” of April, 1961 – reprinted from the “Informer”, newsletter of the Society of Australasian Specialists (U.S.A.). It illustrated and described about five different Late Fee cancellations in Mr. Wilde’s collection.
Above, these Sydney “Late Fee” cancellations are the only machine cancellations on record for Late Fee use.
Later, a letter from Mr. Lester G. Shepard, also of U.S.A., started me on further lines of enquiry, as a result of which I am now able to show another sixteen items.
My own collection of these postmarks is not a large one, but I did have in it some items unlisted by Mr. Wilde. Other unlisted markings were found in the very extensive postmark collection of Mr. Alan Kino, including several Sydney types and a new one from Adelaide.
Four of the Sydney cancellations were machine types with slogans (Nos. 35 to 39). These were used between 1935 and 1941 and I have been unable to discover that any other State used machine cancellations for Late Fee markings.
Among the items listed by Mr. Wilde was a CDS type from Launceston, Tasmania, so I wrote to the Superintendent of Mails at Hobart for information as to its use. The reply I received, however, advised “…that this type of stamp is not in use at Hobart or Launceston.”
Postmarks of Western Australia are conspicuous by their absence both in Mr. Wilde’s list and among those I was able to locate, so I wrote to the Superintendent of Mails at Perth. The reply in this case says: “It is advised that no such cancellations are used by the West Australian postal service, nor is there any knowledge of any such cancellations ever being used.”
Similar enquiries to Brisbane elicited the information that three “Late Fee” markings are still in use there, one at Roma Street Rail, one at South Brisbane Rail, and one at G.P.O., Brisbane.
Above, “Late Fee” cancellations recorded in this article & not previously listed
Melbourne also has three such cancellations still in use. These are “Late Fee, Spencer Street”, “Late Fee, Rialto”, and “Late Fee, Collins Street”. In my own collection. I have a very interesting rubber-stamped marking which reads, in three lines: “Posted in Van Letter Bag/Without late fee/One penny to pay”. Both are on covers franked with a 2½d. red KGVI stamp and were posted at Echuca, Vic., in 1944. One of them is also marked “Tax 1d.”.
Another interesting item is a cover franked only with a New Guinea stamp – a 1d. of the dated Bird of Paradise series. However, the cancellation reads “Posted on Train/L.F.O. Sydney” and date 19 Dec. 1931. As the New Guinea stamp is the only one on the cover, it would seem that a very obliging postal official was on duty at that time.
Mr Shepard posed the question whether the “Too Late” markings sometimes found on covers have anything to do with Late Fee service. Apparently not, judging from those I have been able to examine. I possess two registered covers from South Australia which have this marking, but do not bear evidence of late fee having been paid. The evidence is that letters so marked were too late for inelusion in certain mails. However, one of the cancellations now illustrated (No. 40) reads “Too late/SydneyILate Fee Office”. It was used to cancel the stamp and not just as an extra marking on the cover.
I have a “Late Fee, Adelaide” (No. 42) which is similar to Mr. Wilde’s No. 9. However, it has a small triangle in the upper half, above the date-line. There also appears to be some difference in the spacing of the letters. I have three copies, all on stamps only.
Mr. Wilde’s article illustrates a Brisbane marking (No. 16) reading “B’bane Late Fee R.S./Qld.”. I have a similar marking on a cover dated 2 Dec. 41, but distinctly showing “K.S.” (not R.S.) after “Late Fee”. I presume that Mr. Wilde’s illustrations are drawings of his specimens, as mine are, and not direct photograph reproductions. In this instance, it seems probable that his specimen is indistinct or the one letter may be blurred or clogged.
The items numbered 48, 49 and 50 are all rubber-stamped on covers posted from Adelaide. All have an extra 2d. postage affixed, but there is nothing to show whether the “Late Fee” markings were applied privately or by postal officials.
Use of Late Fee.
The function of “Late Fee” service is, of course, to provide an opportunity of posting urgent letters for a short period after normal mail-closing time, in order to catch a particular train. This was a good service to the public and was provided at an additional cost of only one penny.
Now, however, the Late Fee charge is 5d., making a total of 10d. on an ordinary letter within Australia can travel by air to most parts of the country for only 5d., the Late Fee service is no longer used to the same extent as it was a few years ago. For over-size or over-weight letters and in some instances where airmail would not apply, it still has its uses, of course.
To summarise, we now know a total of fifty-one markings, of which 35 are rectangular or circular dated cancellations. Of these, thirteen are from Sydney, twelve from Melbourne, five from Brisbane, four from Adelaide, and one from Launceston. The other sixteen are various rubber-stamped markings. No doubt others exist, and I hope that collectors who can add to the information in this or Mr. Wilde’s article will contact me so that the listing can be brought nearer to completion.
Above, some additional rubber-stamp “Late Fee” markings