Victoria - Colonial: 1854 - 1900.
Instructional marking - Reply Paid.


The COLLECT system and the REPLY PAID system were complementary:


Colonial use of Reply-Paid in Victoria.

The REPLY PAID system was in operation in Victoria in 1860.

Examples of the use of Reply-Paid telegrams in Colonial Victoria are included elsewhere.


This Reply Paid envelope was used at Fitzroy on 31 May 1893 - about two months after the Regulation was announced.
In association with the issuing of this regulation, the Telegraph Department also issued special REPLY PAID envelopes.

These envelopes were clearly marked with an instruction for the Messenger to wait for three minutes for a reply.

The envelopes contained a transmission form for the reply (if any).

The envelopes were printed in black on green paper.


Colonial Regulations.

1860 Regulations.

The July 1860 rates for sending messages within Victoria and to selected stations in South Australia or New South Wales are included elsewhere. Note 6 for that announcement was

"Payment of charges in advance will be required, except for replies to interrogatory messages on which may have been written the words 'Reply paid for".

The Delivery Form VC-DO-3A with an earliest date of use of 1 May 1863 has a set of Regulations on the reverse.
Regulations IV and XII state:

IV: PAYMENT OF CHARGES IN ADVANCE will be required, except for Replies to Interrogatory Messages on which the sender may have written the words "REPLY WILL BE PAID FOR" but special arrangements may be made for the receipt of Messages payable by the receiver either by depositing security at the receiving office or by furnishing written authority covering the cost of transmission.

XII: In cases where immediate replies are required, the messenger will be instructed to wait five minutes after the delivery,
provided the message may contain the words "Reply by Telegraph innediately".


1873 Regulations.

The 1874 Rules and Regulations for the Telegraph Branch included a list of 36 code numbers "to be included as relevant to a particular message" during the transmission of messages by the operators.. Two of these code numbers were


1893 Regulations.

The Post and Telegraph Regulations of 6 March 1893 "to be observed by Officers and others engaged in the Transaction of Telegraphic Business" included a paragraph on page 10:

Reply-Paid messages.

"49. When a person wishes to pay for a reply to a telegram which he is about to send, he must affix a minimum rate in stamps for the reply, in addition to the charge for the original telegram.

The Receiving Office must mark the message "R.P.". Should the charge for the reply exceed the amount so prepaid, the difference is to be collected on the delivery of the reply.

When a person tenders a reply-paid message , the receiving office must write the word "cancelled" across the letters "R.P." on the original message, and add his initials and the date to prevent the "R.P." telegram being used as a means of sending another reply from some other office


A Reply Paid quandry.

What to do with the funds when a reply-paid telegram was not replied to was always a point of discussion between the Post and Telegraph Department and customers including the public, share-brokers and other businesses. For example, the Melbourne Herald of 7 April 1897 addressed the issue as follows:

"In yesterday's Herald attention was drawn to the question of "reply paid" telegrams and a suggestion was made that instead of 18d, a charge of 15d should be made on the railway return ticket principle. The Deputy Postmaster-General was seen about the matter to-day.

Major Outtrim said at the present rate, the business was carried on at a loss. When the price was raised from 6d some time ago, the department's suggestion was that the minimum charge should be one shilling — a return to the old scale - but the Government decided on nine pence. If the reduction to 15d pence, as suggested, were made, nearly all the sharebroking business would be done on that scale and the revenue would suffer. It was only in urgent and important cases that the public sent "reply-paid" messages. Consequently, under the circumstances, he did not think they would be justified in making any reduction.

As to the question of a refund being made on "reply-paid" telegrams when no reply was sent, Mr Outtrim said that fully 90% of the replies to "reply-paid" messages were sent and only about 2% made application for a refund. If the department decided to make a refund in such cases, most elaborate arrangements would have to be made. A person might make a claim six months after paying for the telegram, and a search would have to be made. Therefore, he considered that at present the department could not make any alteration".


One important telegram containing the two magic words was reprinted in The Argus of 2 March 1909. The story was based on selections for the Australian XI Cricket team to play the Ashes in England in 1909. The team was captained by Monty NobleThose familiar with the Sydney Cricket Ground know the M.A. Noble Stand. and contained such cricketers as S. E. Gregory, W. W. Armstrong, V. S. Ransford and Albert (Tibby) CotterTibby Cotter was killed in action in the mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba in October 1917.
He was a fast bowler who had a reputation for breaking stumps. He took 8 or more wickets in 4 of his 21 Tests.
His strike rate of 52 was matched exactly by Dennis Lillee.
. As usual, Australia wonNo one remembers the English tour to Australia in 1911-12 when Australia won the first Test
and England won the other four Tests.
the Ashes 2-1. The story with the telegram was as follows:

"When the final selection of the Australian Eleven was made, regret was expressed in Melbourne, and in fact all over Australia, at the non-inclusion of G. Hazlitt the Melbourne colt. It was It was realised that Hazlitt's form as batsman, bowler and fieldsman had earned him a place in the team. So strong was the feeling in many quarters that, after some consultion, it was decided to approach the Australian Board of Control for international matches and the following telegram was sent to. Col. Foxton M.H.R. (President of the Board):

"Have been asked to represent you in Melbourne. Public anxious to send Hazlitt home with Australian Eleven. All expenses will be paid. Require an assurance that he will be recognised by the board before further action is taken, and that if opportunity arises, he will not be debarred from playing. Understand that the Victorian delegates raise no objection".

Mr. Rush, communicating with Mr. McElhone: Could you give an assurance to enable the public to proceed with complete arrangements? Kindly telegraph. Reply paid. Time very limited. Hazlitt understands that he will not participate in profits".

Col. Foxton consulted his fellow delegates and to-day telegraphed to the committee of Hazlitt's admirers thus:

"Find the majority of the board, including the Victorian members, object as creating a dangerous precedent"

As an aside, the Victorian all-rounder Gerry Hazlitt was not included but did go on the next England Tour in 1912 to play a triangular tour with South Africa. In the last match of his career, Hazlitt took 5 wickets for 1 run in his last 17 balls to finish the match with 7 for 25 in 21.4 overs.