New South Wales.
Instructional marking - Free.

For "normal people" and private business, the cost to send a telegrams depended on the number of words used and distance the message was to be sent. Details of the rates applied to New South Wales telegrams are provided elsewhere.

As shown on another page, it was possible for the "normal people" to request that the receiver of a telegram pay for the cost of transmission. The COLLECT instructional marking is discussed on another page.

Government agencies were not explicitly charged for sending telegrams on the basis that it was the Government who was ultimately paying anyway. So no charging saved time and effort in accounting procedures. It also meant that government officials could send messages as frequently as they wished and those messages could be as long as they wished. The length of many messages and their frequency soon led to the Telegraph Offices in many locations becoming overloaded.

The indication of the Government-exempt telegram was the inclusion of the word FREE as an instructional marking after the cost had been determined. Early colonial examples of this marking are provided below.


The FREE annotation used during the NSW Colonial period.

Not many examples of FREE telegrams are recorded for New South Wales.

NC-DO-7B: Telegram sent from Melbourne to Sydney on 31 July 1880
with instructional annotation
FREE in the "amount due" box on the left.

The message relates to preparations for the 1880 International Exhibition held in Melbourne.

The telegram has a scarce early postal date stamp for Sydney.


The FREE annotation used during the NSW Australia period.

AE-DU-2A: Urgent rate delivery form sent from Hay to Sydney (no date but about 1924).

Has the FREE annotation on the first line of written text below the word CHECK.