Australia - Brown years: 1923-1939.
Commemorative - Sydney Harbour Bridge opening: AB-GH-32

General characteristics:

Heading and notes: No form number.
Heading SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE and image of Bridge.
Message area: Blank.
Reverse side: Blank.
Colours (text & form): Brown on cream.
Size of form overall: 165 × 210 mm.
Distinctive characteristics of this form:


The construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was of very significant economic, political and social importance - not just to Sydney but to the nation. Australia had been formed less than 30 years before construction began and it was still suffering the after-effects of World War 1 and it was entering the Great Depression.

In some ways, the construction of the Bridge became a symbol of a bright future of the new nation - "we could do it"!

Photo 1930
The spans of the Bridge getting closer - 6 July 1930.

One span nearly joined. 30 August 1930.

Australia's first souvenir telegram:
Opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932.

There are three aspects to note in relation to the special Harbour Bridge telegrams:

  1. the telegrams sent between the pylons;
  2. the telegrams posted to addresses;
  3. the date stamps applied to the telegrams.

Inter-pylon telegrams.

The Post Office Monthly Circular of February 1932 notes:

“Visitors to the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the opening celebrations may obtain a copy of the special souvenir telegram by lodging a message written of the ordinary telegram (transmission) form (E.T. 1) at either of the temporary Post and Telegraph Offices located in the north-east and south-east pylons of the bridge. The telegram will be transmitted across the Harbour Bridge and the souvenir telegram delivered to the addressee, who will take personal delivery ... at the other end of the Bridge. The charge for these telegrams will be 16 words (9d) and a penny for each additional word.

The special telegraph office arrangements were available for only two weeks from 19 March to 2 April.

On the first day of opening, the telegraph facilities operated from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm during which time "the place was besieged" (Collyer & Peck, p. 3.5).

Although no transmission forms could be retained under P.O. Regulations, there is one remarkable survivor.

AB-GB-32_NE AB-GHF-32 (SE).

North East Pylon to South East Pylon.

19 March 1932.
Transmitted at 3:40 pm.


AB-GB-32_Sth AB-GHF-32 (NE).

South East Pylon to North East Pylon.

19 March 1932.


Window envelope used at the North East Pylon on Opening Day.

19 March 1932.

AB-GHC-32 AB-GHC-32.

Collection card for above telegram to be presented at the North-East pylon.

No other collection card is known.

Prestige Philately May 2008 Lot 135.


A side-story: An observation on the event from David Fayle of Arrawarra Headland.

For the man known as "Checker", blindingly fast and accurate at Morse code, the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening proved one of the highlights of his career. The Postmaster-General's Department chose Checker and several other telegraphists to help set up telegraph stations in the two Eastern pylons from which the public could send messages to the opposite pylon (16 words for nine pence, plus one penny per extra word).

The day before the bridge opening, Checker -John Archibald Jones - completed the set-up and tested it by sending the first telegram from pylon to pylon to his wife Gladys. Their younger daughter Joan (who turned 6 the following week) was there and she remembers picnicking next to the pylon and then walking with her family across the bridge and back".

Extract from the Historic Houses Trust website.

A transmission form (AB-TO-6) used during the period celebrating the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge dated 1 April 1932 with the Sydney Harbour Bridge cancellation for the S.E Pylon.

No message was required.

Used on the second last day of the special postal arrangements on the Bridge.

Extraordinary survivor as such a form would have been retained and later destroyed by the PMG officials.

Posted telegrams.

The Post Office Monthly Circular continued as follows:

Persons who are unable to visit the temporary telegraph offices on the Sydney Harbour Bridge may obtain a copy of the special souvenir telegram form by ... lodging a telegram (at the usual Post Office) with the addition of the words “Post Sydney Harbour Bridge”....On receipt of this message, the Telegraph Superintendent will arrange for its transmission over the Sydney Harbour Bridge telegraph channel, its transcription on a special souvenir telegraph form and its delivery by post to the addressee”.

POst bondi AB-GHF-32 (Post).

Date stamp at S.E. Pylon.
24 March 1932.

Mailed to North Bondi.

Marked POST SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE according to instructions.

Nth Bondi AB-GHE-32A.

Opaque delivery envelope for the above telegram sent to North Bondi.

Has SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE date stamp and commemorative advertising slogan.

Address contains POST SYDNEY HR BDGE.

Issue details are as follows:


Early use of the form for advertising.

Two types of advertising using the Harbour Bridge telegram delivery form were used:

  1. for advertising the availability of the forms in March;
  2. for commercial advertising of a product (a very rare usage):

Examples of both types of form are shown below:

Taree 1. Use of the form to promote its use in March:

Used at Taree for local delivery.
4 March 1932.

Message from the Secretary of the PMG Department informing the Owner/ Manager of the Royal Hotel about the desirability of attending Sydney during the time of the Bridge Opening.

AB-GHF-32 2. AB-GHF-32.

Sydney to Longueville.

16 March 1932 - THREE days before issue.

Telegraph forms had been released for display purposes to various Post Offices to advertise the special design.

This telegram - sent on the Wednesday afternoon prior to the opening - came from the Chief Telegraph Office in Sydney possibly as part of the pre-opening advertising.

No other such clearly private commercial telegram is recorded prior to the opening.



Window envelope sent with the previous telegram.

The date stamps.

Four date stamps are known used on Sydney Harbour Bridge telegrams and envelopes:

NE pylon Sydney Harbour Bridge/N.E. Pylon.

Has horizontal lines top and bottom.

Diameter: 31 mm.

SE pylon Sydney Harbour Bridge/S.E. Pylon.

Has no horizontal lines top and bottom.

Diameter: 31 mm.

Branch 1 Date stamps were prepared for each pylon with the numbers "1"and "2". That numbered "1" was used mainly for telegrams.

The "2" date stamp has never been recorded used with telegrams. It may exist.

Postal slogan Slogan post mark:

Size: 20 × 49 mm.

Used on mail and telegram delivery envelopes.

Mail was also posted from the temporary Post Offices set up on the Bridge. A special slogan cancellation was used.

In addition, the branch date stamp "1" was used for mail.

Cover Cover with both the slogan and a Branch number "1" date stamp.

19 March 1932.

Publicity brochure

Click here to view the small publicity brochure (hint - widen the width by clicking on the "fit to width" icon above the brochure after it is loaded).

Details of use and rarity.

Schedule number Earliest recorded date Rarity rating
GHF-32 None 16 March 1932 (apart from advertising use by the Post Office).

Issue date was 19 March.

NC (unused)

R used posted

RR used

GHE-32A None 19 March 1932.
GHE-32B None. 19 March 1932.