Tasmania - 1857 - 1917.
Instructional marking - COLLECT.

The COLLECT facility was available to users of the telegraph system to send a telegram and charge the cost to the recipient of the telegram. This facility was referred to as COLLECT TELEGRAMS.

Such a use was not unusual and the practice was adopted in all Australian Colonies as well as being continued well into the Australian era - and of course with more watchfulness and more forms. All the Colonies provided the COLLECT facility by simply requiring a sender to annotate the transmission form with the word COLLECT. The Operator would calculate the cost and add that to the message on the transmission form after the added word. The recipient of such a telegram would then be notified that a telegram had arrived for them or a messenger would bring it to the address shown and the recipient would pay the required amount before being able to access their telegram. If the potential recipient of a Collect Telegram refused to pay the cost, the sender had to pay together with any other costs.

The Collect system was sometimes used to advertise goods and services to people who paid the fee necessary before realising what the message was.

Unfortunately there are always those in the community who wish to rort any system for their own greedy interests.

1. COLLECT in the Tasmania Colonial period:

2. COLLECT in the Tasmanian Interim period.

Colonial period to 1901:

Having adopted the system, the Tasmanian authorities - in concert with those in other Colonies - decided about 1882 - to discontinue the facility. The Mercury of 24 February 1883 reported the following Letter to the Editor:

"Sir -

An announcement appeared in your issue of Thursday stating that in future no "collect" telegrams will be received except for Press or on "reply paid for" telegrams, thus doing away with the guarantee system which enabled persons to forward "collect" telegrams on guaranteeing their payment.

Pardon me for saying that I am astonished this matter should have escaped your usually vigilant observation and that, consequently, no protest has been made in the interests of the public against an infringement of their already scant enough privileges. It seems to me, Sir, that every possible hindrance is placed in the way of intercolonial telegraphy and that the Government supuinely adopt any rules and regulations that certain narrow-minded authorities choose to frame to save themselves a little trouble.

Yours, etc. PROGRESS".

There are many examples of COLLECT telegrams for Tasmania. Some of these are on ad hoc forms while others are on the printed transmission forms and delivery forms.

Transmission form (TC-TO-1B) for a message sent from Green Ponds to Launcestor on 18 May 1871..
The cost of the 10 words of the message was 1 shilling and this would have been paid by
Messrs Harris & Just in Launceston.

Cable transmission form (TC-TC-2) used for a message from Greenponds to Brighton on 23 August 1871.
The message contained 12 words so the cost was 1s 2d (1s for the first 10 words and 1d for each subsequent word).
The annotation COLL(ect) follows the calculated cost.

Delivery form (TC-DO-3B) for a message sent from Sorell to The Mercury at Brighton on 6 August 1877.

Has COLLECT annotation showing 1/7 to be paid by the receiver.

An ad hoc form created from part of a sheet of paper.
Sent from Brighton to the Mercury in Hobart on 6 January 1881.

There were 15 words in the Press message for which the cost would have been 1/-. The "form" has the instructional annotation "1/- COLL(ect)".

Message reads: "Gray who has been canvassing (?) Glamorgan leaves today for Triabunna. Election likely to be close".
An election was held on 5 January for a Member to serve in the House of Assembly for West Hobart. The two candidates were William Henry Burgess and James Gray.

Burgess was declared the winner after Polls had closed by 364 votes to 236 with only 629 votes recorded from the 1,020 electors.
See elsewhere for more detail on the very affable election.

An ad hoc form created from part of a sheet of paper.
Sent from Brighton to the Mercury in Hobart on 3 June 1881.

There were 25 words in the Press message for which the cost was 1/-. The "form" has the instructional annotation "1/- COLL(ect)".
NOTE: The W. for Hodgson was counted as a word.

Interesting follow-up to previous ad hoc form. Message reads:
A requisition to J. Gray for Upper House has been sent here for signature but the feeimg along coast is in favour of W. Hodgson".

Dear Reader: The Mercury published the details on 8 June 1881 of the lead-up to the Pembroke election. The paper felt strongly that Mr. Hodgson would win. On 9 June, the story of friendship between the two continued.Election Day was 18 June
There are two other related ad hoc telegrams describing counting and agreement to the result with 43 words (2/6 COLLECT) and 117 words across 4 similar pages (3/6 COLLECT).
Details of the announcement of Mr. Hodgson's win and some background details are provided elsewhere.


Transmission form (TC-TO-3E) for a very short message (possibly) to Bothwell on 22 October 1883.
The charge for up to 10 words was 1s (1/-) as noted in the lower left corner but the feeling between the sender
and Mr. Haywood appears to have been a step too far - even that amount.

No shorter message has been seen (or is likely to be (seen).

See also form TC-DO-3B used at Sorell on 6 August 1871 with 1/7 Collect.


Interim period 1901 to 1917:

The practice of using COLLECT continued in Tasmania although increasingly under the control of the Australian Government.

TI-DO-3D: Delivery form for a message from Caulfield East to Claremont - no date.
Form printed in 1916.


  • COLLECT 1/8: The hand written note indicates that the recipient in Claremont had to pay 1/8 for the 29 word telegram (including address and signature - a fee which included "11d excess from Melbourne").

  • PR - Paid Reply: the minimum cost for a reply to Melbourne via the cable was 1/8 for 16 words.

  • the form also has a manuscript REPEAT(ED) MESSAGE annotation.