Australia: 1917-1988.
Collect telegrams and the Instructional annotation.

Collect telegrams allowed a sender of a telegram to transfer payment of transmission charges to the receiver of a telegram. They were complementary to Reply-Paid telegrams which required the sender of an original telegram to pre-pay the costs of a reply as well as the cost of the original telegram.

Details of Collect Telegrams are summarised in the following sections:

  1. Early Colonial use of COLLECT telegrams;

    New South Wales;
    South Australia;
    Western Australia.

  2. Australian post-Federation Regulations;
  3. Examples of Post Federation COLLECT telegrams;
  4. Dockets to guarantee payment;

  5. COLLECT cables - see India-Australia 1948 example.


1. Australian (post-Federation) Regulations.

The Federal Post and Telegraph Act of 1901 contained the following:

"Collect telegrams will now be accepted within the Commonwealth, but only when the sender is known to the officer in charge and upon his signing a guarantee that should the addressee refuse to pay the cost, the sender of the telegram will pay the amount together with telegram of advice of non-payment by the addressee".

The Post and Telegraph Guide of June 1922 presented the Regulation outlining the use of this type of telegram as follows:

Collect reg

In October 1949, the Postmaster-General announced that a "Collect Telegram" service was to be introduced on 1 November:

"This collect service will permit the lodgement, without prepayment, of messages for transmission to and from Australia and places in the ".Territory of Papua - New Guinea.

The amount involved in each case will be collected from the person to whom the telegram is addressed.

In the case of an addressee refusing to meet the charges, the sender must meet the cost of both the telegram and charges for advice of non-payment".

The official description changed little in the years after 1922. For example, the 1952 Post Office Guide had almost exactly the same wording but the same intent in Part II Commonwealth Telegrams, paragraph 60. Perhaps the main change was the replacement of "he or she" in line 5 with "he"!!


3. Examples of post Federation COLLECT telegrams.

WI-DO-5A Collect WI-DO-5A.

Broome to Perth.
2 October 1912.

Has annotation 1/11 Collect meaning that the District Surveyors Board had to pay 1/11 to receive the telegram.

Has a rare COLLECT hand stamp - only recorded example.

Collect telegrams have been used in many situations:


4. Dockets to guarantee payment.

In October 1894, the NSW Gazette announced the restoration of the "collect telegram" system. "People who are known are required to sign and pay in default; also the cost of the message notifying default".

The forms used by the sender to guarantee the cost of the telegram varied little. Two examples follow:

1921 form
Printed in August 1921.

Schedule numbers known:

10m - 8.21 4236;
5m - 6.26 6029.

1972 form
Printed in 1972.

Schedule numbers known:

Sch. C.6687 - 12/51;
Sch. C.8218 - 10/59:
O/N C4180/71 - L;
O/N C42417/72 - L.

The monies collected for Collect telegrams had to be accounted and special forms, shown below, were used.

Acquittal 33
Printed in April 1933 (Schedule number Sch. C. 944 4/1933).
Acquittal form to be forwarded to the Head Office of the PMG in each State.

A duplicate - with the same heading but no boxes - was placed underneath with carbon paper between to enable a copy to be made easily (on the same principle as that shown below for the 1942 form).

Printed over many years in almost the same format as shown.

1942 1
Printed in 1942 (Schedule number Sch. C. 3565-1/1942).

The two parts were combined and carbon paper placed between so as to make a copy of the details.

1942 2

Collect telegrams gradually ceased when telephones became widespread and it was possible and easy to call Telephone Offices established to receive such requests and charge costs to a telephone account. Details were then recorded on Phonogram forms.