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Aboriginal place names intrigue me and Cooplacurripa (‘plenty of mosquitoes’) is no exception. But there is more to my interest for why was the post office and town name changed from the original to Number One, and a second post office and town with the original name moved further north-west? A web search not only gave no answer to these questions, but also to-date has been remarkably unhelpful in giving any worthwhile information about either town names.

How was the information contained in the above para found? Firstly, my personal collection of the 1d red ‘Roo on Map of Australia’ stamps had one with a clear numeral cancel of ‘1617'; and I consulted the very authoritative book, Hopson and Tobin N.S.W. and A.C.T. Post, Receiving, Telegraph & Telephone Offices, their Circular Date-stamps and Postal History, 1991 Volume I ; then, A.W. Reed’s Aboriginal Place Names, 1998, and finally, HEMA’s Australia’s Road Atlas, 1999. This was a good start, but also the finish of much meaningful information.

I have little information on how late the numeral cancellations of N.S.W. were in use, but they were still in use at some post offices on Australian Postage Dues, Roos on Map of Australia, and KGV Head stamps. Finding such cancels any later than the first 15 years of the 1900's is very suggestive of per favour cancels, for reason cited below.

A.D. Brown & H.M. Campbell’s New South Wales Numeral Cancellations, 1963 documents that the first numerals, numbers ‘1' (Ryde) to ‘96' (Maryborough, in future Queensland) were allocated on 01 January 1850, whereas ‘1617' was allocated to Cooplacurripa on 01 August 1891 and that the numeral was transferred when the town name was changed to post office ‘No. 1.' (the town of Number One) on 1 October 1893. Although a total of 2100 numeral obliterators were allocated to N.S.W., the highest known number linked to a town is 2099 for Toolejooa. H.M. Campbell’s Australian Numeral Cancellations: A Compendium, 1983 states that by the time that the Commonwealth stamps were issued in 1913, most post offices were using circular date-stamps (cds) to cancel stamps. The use of numeral obliterators lingered on in some States, and it was 1915 before they were officially withdrawn.

The following instruction appeared in the N.S.W. Monthly Circular for August 1915: "POSTAL OBLITERATORS – ABOLITION OF: It is hereby notified that it has been decided to discontinue the use of hand obliterators. The date-stamp is to be used in future for cancelling postal stamps in place of such obliterators. Postmasters and others concerned will please note and forthwith forward all obliterators to Comptrollers of Stores".

The use of N.S.W. numeral obliterators on Commonwealth of Australian stamps has seen on Roo stamps, the 1d red with ‘1617' of Cooplacurripa/ Number One, the 2d grey with ‘868' of Glasston, and on the 1d Postage Due stamp with ‘376' of Bulahdelah (Figure 1).

This paper started out with a question about the N.S.W. numeral ‘1617' and the following discussion is a result of the listing of the numeral in Hopson & Tobin for both Cooplacurripa and Number One:

Cooplacurripa (I) was listed at being 61 k from Taree, it was a receiving office in 1887 and became a post office on 1.8.91 at which time its only certain postmarking was the numeral with also a questionable circular date stamp, Type 1D (i); its name was changed to ‘No. 1' on 1.10.1893.

This name change was confirmed when Number One post office was searched, not only for the name change of 1893, but also that ‘1617' was continued in use at the newly named town (which was still 61 k from Taree), and a cds Type 1D (i) was introduced for No. 1, in 1914.

A new office, Cooplacurripa (II), was opened as a telephone office with no postal facilities other than as a receiving office and it had a questionable cds (Type 2A), but it was situated at a different site, now 80k from Taree. Taree, Number One, and present-day Cooplacurripa are shown in Figure 2.

The ‘1617' postmark gives no idea as to the date. The 1d Roo stamp was introduced 01 January 1913, so that it must have been used during the time that the town was called Number One, and not Cooplacurripa, more dificult to spell, but a more interesting name. I use the term town loosely, but I wonder whether its population in the early 1900's was more fitting for a village?

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