1956 Melbourne Olympics: The Postmarks

The 1956 Olympics was the largest Philatelic Issue by the Australian Post Office. It consisted of 2 Publicity Stamps, a set of 4 Olympic Stamps and a special aerogramme, the first ever issued by the Post Office. As well there were 54 individual postmarks, 52 to celebrate the sports and venues and 2 for the special Philatelic Exhibition “Olympex”.

The main stadium was the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, exhibition sports (AFL & baseball) and hockey and football games from the semi-finals.

It required two major developments with replacement of the northern stand and regrading of the ground and preparations for the laying of an athletics track. Despite fears of the stadium not being ready it was completed 2 months ahead of the Games.

During the Olympics, football preliminaries and athletics training were conducted at the Olympic Park Stadium. Cycling was held in a velodrome built for the Games and located north/east of Olympic Park. Hockey was also held in the precinct. The grass venue hosted the preliminary games, while the finals were held on the MCG.

The swimming and diving stadium was a new purpose built venue from a design competition won by a company of Melbourne architects. The venue was enclosed with a seating capacity of 6,000. In the 1980s the venue was developed into a sports and entertainment venue and basketball was held there until 1998. It became known as the Glasshouse. From 2004 it has been used by Collingwood AFL as an  indoor training facility. It is now known as the Holden Centre.  It contains administration offices, a theatrette, exhibition space, a world class gymnasium, 25m lap pool and hydrotherapy spa. The Olympic Park Oval has been renovated and now serves as Collingwood’s training Ground, the reserves’ team home ground and the AFLW’s team home ground. There has also been extensive renovations between the ground and the old swimming complex with restaurants, in particular the “Glasshouse”.

On the Eastern side of Olympic Park a rectangular sports ground, AAMI Park, has been built. It hosts Rugby League, Union and Soccer. It houses the Melbourne Football Clubs administration. Its training ground is the redeveloped No 1 Oval next door in Gosch’s Paddock.

The MCG has also been extensively renovated since 1956 with the Great Southern Stand completed in 1992 and the Northern Stand in 2006. The stand is divided into the Ponsford, Olympic and Members Stands.

The three postmarks were available 22 November to 8 December 1956. The main stadium postmark had the date reversed on the 22 and 24 Nov to “Nov 22” or “Nov 24”. (There is also an example of date reversed “Nov 26”) The Olympic Park Postmarks had the date reversed on the 22 November 1956.

The three relevant postmarks are shown on various covers.

Stampboards: Reverse Date Nov 26 Main Stadium Postmark

Unadopted Essays

Unadopted Essay Souvenir Sheets were published with Australia Post approval. They show original essays held in the National Philatelic Collection on a background image reproduced with permission of the Australian Postal Corporation. At least 12 have been published and were given away with “Australasian Stamp News” subscriptions.

The First Souvenir Sheet showed unadopted Essays for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. One of he essays shows the Stadia in Olympic Park, similar to the Postmark. The background shows a panorama of Collins Street similar to the image on the 1 shilling multicoloured stamp issue.

Mappin and Curran

Covers with “First Day Cover: October 31, 1956” under the image

Covers with No Text under the image

Cards with “Pictorial Postmark” under the image

The majority of the complete sets of postmarks are on the blue and white card, along with the Victorian Philatelic Association (VPA) cover.

Melbourne Games Cover Distributors

A consortium of six dealers, not to be outdone by Mappin and Curran, banded together to produce the above covers and cards. They were WM Ackland, Australian Stamp Auctions, FH Feibes, Kelson & Co, Myer Philatelic Department and Max Stern. They called themselves the Melbourne Games Cover Distributors. Some of their covers included an insert with their information. Other dealers also used these covers.

A set of 500 covers with all six olympic stamps (2 Publicity stamps, 4d Coat of Arms, 71/2d Torch and the 2 multicoloured stamps, the first issued by Australia) was produced. Information from Night Watchman on Stampboards

Victorian Philatelic Association (VPA) Cover

The VPA produced the cover in association with the Games Organising committee. It is probably the commonest cover from the Games.

Southern Cross Printers (SCP) Cover

SCP produced a similar cover for the publicity stamps as well as a longer envelope cover. The torch and “Olympic Games” of the cover was in a wine colour. The rings and writing are in green on these covers.

Wesley Cover Service (WCS)

Yacht

The yacht type exists as souvenir cover, a First Day Card and a souvenir card.

Diving and Rings

The diving type exists as souvenir cover (top) and a souvenir card (below). The Stadia postmark of the card has the date reversed.

Hurdler and Torch

The hurdler type exists only as a First Day Card cover.

Royal Covers

Royal printed covers unserviced for collectors to prepare their own covers. They printed four different designs and used the same colour combinations as in other issues. The so called 2 colour/3 colour combination is explained in the following diagram.

With the various options and three postmarks there is a total of 72 covers that are possible to collect.

Generic Post Office “Hermes” Brand

Blue/Dull Gold

Red/Blue

Maximum Card

Stampboards: Olympic Postcards

Official Aerogramme