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Australian Mail Service for 1884 / P&O Company's Service

Date: 1884
Overall: 500 x 716 mm, 20 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Poster
Object No: 00019582

User Terms

    This advertising poster is an early forerunner to the later colour advertising poster of the 20th century. It lists all of the outward and homeward mail voyages for 1884 of the Australia Royal Mail Service including those by the Orient Line, Queensland Royal Mail Line, California Mail Line, Compagne de Messageiries Maritimes and Sloman Line.
    SignificanceThis advertising poster is a significant representation of the contentious Australian Mail Service, just three years before the establishment of the Federal Mail Service in 1887.
    HistoryIn the 1850s, the British Government proposed a subsidised steamship mail service between the British and Colonial Governments. All the Australian colonies accepted the proposed cost sharing scheme except South Australia, and in 1856 a £185,000 contract was awarded to the European and Australian Steam Navigation Company. The company was to provide a monthly mail service between England and the Colonies via Suez, calling at King George’s Sound (Western Australia), Melbourne (Victoria) and Sydney (New South Wales). The service commenced in early 1857, however the schedules were virtually impossible for the company to meet – the outward passage was to be made in 39 days, and the homeward passage in 36, with a penalty of £100 for every day that the vessels were behind. The company failed catastrophically, and went bankrupt.

    P & O successfully took over the Australian Mail Service in late 1859, and provided a relatively stable service, despite continuous colonial contestations of the service over the next 50 years. Eventually under-sea cables saw a fracture in the shipping monopoly of international communication. In 1872, the Overland Telegraph stretched from Adelaide to Darwin where it joined a submarine cable to Timor and on to London. The colonies shared the cost of the overland Telegraph and ran it jointly.

    A Federal Mail Service was eventually established in 1887 with all the colonies except Queensland sharing the cost. While the name of the service was chosen to mark the growing interest in federation, Queensland contracted its own mails to run through the Torres Strait rather than waiting for the Federal Mail which came via Western Australia.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Australian Mail Service for 1884 / P&O Company's Service

    Web title: Australian Mail Service for 1884

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