There are hints here to tease us, but no direct reference to Violet Overprints...........
The following article was first published in Australian Stamp Monthly (December, 1952) and written by Alec A Gavin.
THE little Registered Label (R6 in P.O. phraseology) plays a very important part in a vital post office activity, and the collection and study of these items of Commonwealth postal stationery has attracted the attention of a number of ardent enthusiasts over the past twenty odd years.
At a cursory glance these labels bear a marked similarity to one another and would seem to have little interest to collectors except, perhaps, as a record of post office names. However, they have their own errors, provisionals, controls, double prints, and other varieties, just like the adhesive stamps; and these label varieties are, in most cases, much rarer than those of the stamps.
The use of the adhesive registration label dates, in the Commonwealth, from 1910, one of the earliest known dated covers being September 12, 1910, from the N.S.W. town of Lithgow, and it would seem that all States began to use them at about this time. A reference in the Queensland Monthly Circular (P.O.) of February, 1911, orders postmasters to "note that registered gummed labels must be affixed to all registered articles received," and a further reference in the April, 1911, Circular calls for the return of the REGISTERED marker. This was, in Queensland, a two lined mark, top line REGISTERED, lower line P.O. name. This would indicate that labels were in use before 1911 and that proper use was not being made of them by Queensland postmasters.
From Rod's collection
It must be remembered that this was prior to the issue of the first Commonwealth stamps in 1913, and each State still had charge, more or less, of its own Postal affairs. This included power to determine what size, color, and style of registration label would be used, a state of affairs which lasted until 1924, when registered label issues were generalised and there appeared the first type to be found used in all States. This, then, divides the era of R labels into two periods – "pre 1924" or State period, and "post 1924" or Commonwealth period.
New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia began with labels printed in red varying shades, the former in the normal size of today and both the others with much larger sized labels. Queensland and Victoria used black labels, while Tasmania preferred blue. So things continued for several years, each State providing a varying number of issues, but the first signs of uniformity came when all states adopted the red label and added the small insignia R6 to their then current types of labels.
The type selected for a general Commonwealth issue was the one in use by New South Wales and Queensland but with a standard printing of the P.O. name above the State name. This differed and is easily distinguished from the styles used by New South Wales and Queensland. These first Commonwealth labels were in red, and were quickly followed by a distinctive Commonwealth type, also in red. The two styles were in use concurrently until 1928, when the color was altered to blue and black. In 1934 the black was dropped, leaving all blue, and this still remains the color in use today.
The study and classification of registration labels was commenced in 1924 by Harold Charles, well known to readers of "A.S.M.," and later by others; and the formation of the Philatelic Stationery Society of Australia in 1933 gave an impetus to this study. The Society, in 1940, authorised its R. Label Committee to proceed with the classification of the Registration Labels of Australia in a systematic form, which work was completed and published in the form of a Handbook in August, 1945.
The system used by this Committee followed on similar lines to that adopted by the Army, in that the initial letter of each State prefixed its type number in State types, e.g., N1 was the first type of New South Wales, T1, the first of Tasmania, and so on; following this system then Commonwealth types received the prefix letter C and so become C1, C2, etc.
The cardinal point in classification, however, may best be described as the "Rule of R." This means that if the large R differed from its fellows it received a major listing and became a TYPE, e.g., S1; however, a label having a similar R to that of Type S1, but differing in other respects such as "NO", R6, framelines or even in the layout of the label itself received a minor listing and so was a SUBTYPE and was grouped, e.g., Sla.
Here again the Committee was posed a problem in the sorting out of State types from Commonwealth for, despite the fact that these labels were generalised in 1924, this plan has had variations at odd times and it would seem that P.O. Departments in each State still have some power to act when an emergency arises. Thus we find that in Queensland during the years of World War II, there were issued several types of R labels peculiar to that State alone. The same thing occurred in South Australia. Later on still we have the case of the label used at ANPEX and nowhere else.
So in the classification it was ruled that if a new type of label, i.e., a new type of R, were produced and used only in the one State, that particular label would become a State type, its listing indicating use in one State only, even though 1924 is the original break between the State and Commonwealth issues.
Another fact to be remembered is that like our stamps, no registered labels have been invalidated, and this accounts for the fact that even today types of labels may still be used which have long since vanished from general issue.
Even the earliest State types are reported occasionally, despite the fact that most of them are red, while current stocks are in blue. Apparently a registered label is a registered label "for a' that" and may be used up at any old time a postmaster thinks fitting.
All this, of course, merely adds spice and zest to the chase after these little items which cannot be bought unused, and a real rarity may come along at any time. Besides those already mentioned above there is a variety of type C4 in red on colored paper with numerals usually inserted by hand. There are inverted names, overprints and freaks of perforation and many rare types, the use of which may have been restricted to one office alone. In some cases only one label is known of its particular kind; nothing could be rarer than that, not even that famous old battered veteran, the 1c magenta British Guiana. For those who like plating, it is possible to reconstruct sheets of labels and the first three known Commonwealth types all appear together on one sheet along with a couple of sub-types.
Latest development in Australia is the issue of registration labels in rolls for use in machines. These coil labels are restricted in issue to the largest P.O.'s, and have been used in all States since their introduction in 1949; freely in New South Wales and Victoria, but less so in the other four States.
I will conclude this rather general article with a brief listing of the main types of R labels it is possible to collect and the reader will be able to gain an idea of the scope available to the collector of these little R stickers:-
Commonwealth. – 9 Types of R. Colors: Red, Red and Black, Blue and Black, Blue, Red on colored paper.
Victoria. – Two Types of R. Colors: Black, Red.
New South Wales. – 9 Types of R. Colors: Red. Red with Black numerals.
Queensland. – 10 Types of R. Colors: Black, Red, Red with Black Numerals, Blue, Blue on colored papers.
Tasmania. – 7 Types of R. Colors: Blue with Black or Red numerals, Red, Red with Black numerals.
South Australia. – 5 Types of R. Colors: Red. Blue, Blue with Black numerals.
West Australia.- 12 Types of R. Colors: Red, Red with Black or Blue numerals.
In West Australia, also, there were special labels for use on registered parcels from Perth G.P.O., and there are five types of these known; all are in red with black numerals.