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newzealand stamps

A bold decision achieves the best result

The birth of pictorial stamps

New Zealand boasts some of the most beautiful natural scenery on Earth.

It is also the country responsible for producing the first full issue of pictorial stamps, as early as 1898.

The first pictorial stamps from New Zealand are right up there with my all-time favourite stamp issues.

After you see these stamps, you’ll want to put up with the 24 hour plane journey to visit these sites in person.

The background behind the issue of the first pictorial stamps from New Zealand is interesting…

The world’s first tourism promotion stamp issue.

Back in the early 1870s New Zealand faced a crisis.

Their gold deposits ran out and there was a slump in the price of wool.

Faced with a financial crisis, the Colonial Treasurer at the time, Julius Vogel, needed to make a bold decision.

So, he decided to borrow £10 million on the London money markets. This was an unprecedented level of borrowing at that time.

He used that money to encourage immigrants to settle in New Zealand. He improved infrastructure including the railways, telegraphs, roads and shipping facilities.

His plan worked…

The white New Zealanders, known as the Pakeha population, grew from 256,000 in 1871 to 490,000 ten years later.

This might not sound like a lot, but it was huge considering the native Maori population was less than 50,000.

It was decided by 1894 that a new set of stamps was needed to put the emerging country of New Zealand on the map.

Up until this time, stamps from the British Commonwealth countries featured only Kings, Queens or heads of state.

New Zealand stamps had depicted portraits of Queen Victoria for 40 years.

Another bold decision was made, to break away from this tradition.

There was a very real risk this would cause offence and prove unpopular with the public.

A design competition was held attracting over 2,400 entries.

The design brief was that the stamps should be “symbolical of the land”.

The quality of the winning designs was so great, the designs went on tour around the country.

Yet another bold decision was then taken…

Because of the quality of the designs, it was decided to use the more expensive recess printing method.

The hope was the higher costs of production would be covered many times by sales to stamp collectors.

It was a good decision.

When they first went on sale on 5 April 1898, they immediately found favour with collectors and received universal praise.

The recess process used to print them yielded excellent results.

The quality of printing combined perfectly with the intricate designs and bright colours, especially compared to past issues.

The stamps were initially engraved in England from 1898.

England provided New Zealand with new printing plates to enable them to take over printing and a year later they were printed from New Zealand.

Today, these first pictorial tourism stamps remain of special interest to stamp collectors.

Not only are they among the world’s earliest pictorial stamps, their quality and design skills make them eminently desirable.

The lure of finding an “error” makes them even more popular.

Now is your chance to get your hands on one (or more) of these stunning pieces of miniature art.

You will be blown away by their beauty and enticed by the discount I am able to offer to listed catalogue values.

Now begins your wonderful armchair tour of New Zealand…

A unique national symbol

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Description: New Zealand 1898 6d green pictorial 'Kiwi' stamp, showing very clear offset on reverse, SG254var.

Condition: A fine unmounted mint example with full original gum of spectacular appearance, hardly ever seen so fine. A small tone speck on lower left corner perforation mentioned purely for accuracy and inconsequential.

A spectacular and rare printing variety, particularly in unmounted mint condition.

The Kiwi is the most ancient of New Zealand’s birds and unable to fly. They are unique to New Zealand and have become a national symbol.

New Zealand Campbell Paterson catalogue number 14a(z) listed at a value of NZ$1,500 (approximately £775).

PRICE: £475 (39% discount)


New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination

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Description: New Zealand 1899-1903 2s blue-green, no watermark, perforations 11, left marginal block of 4 from R5/6/1-2, showing minor plate flaws, SG269.

Condition: A brilliant quality unmounted mint marginal block with full original gum (hinge mark in margin only). Typical perforations and centring, and left pair with slight wrinkles, still a lovely piece. Rare in this quality.

Provenance: Ex Michael Burberry, the recognised authority on varieties of the New Zealand pictorial stamps. Presented on part display page with enlarged drawing (and plating notes in pencil on reverse). One of the most attractive designs from what was the first pictorial series from a major British colony. The design of Milford Sound is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls on Earth.

The superb engraved views of New Zealand’s scenery, with mountains and water, proved the most popular subjects among the competition winners and captured the imagination of the Victorians of the time.

They have remained ever-popular with collectors as they were ground-breaking at the time.

The Campbell Paterson Catalogue value is NZ$7,000 (approximately £3,600).

PRICE: £1,500 (58% discount)


All that remains of this thermal wonderland

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Description: New Zealand 1900 1d crimson, type 39 'Pirie' paper, perforations 11, horizontal pair showing variety double horizontal perforations at foot, SG274var.

Condition: A very fine used pair with large part 'CHELTENHAM' circular date stamp.

A scarce variety, particularly so as a multiple.

An attractive pictorial stamp issue depicting the stunning White Terrace, Rotomahana also known as 'fountain of the clouded sky'.

The White Terraces were formed over thousands of years by a geyser, which had played over the mountain slope leaving deposits of silica.

They were a world famous tourist attraction by 1886, when the eruption of nearby Mount Tarawera completely obliterated them.

All that remains are sketches, paintings and these wonderful stamps.

New Zealand Campbell Paterson catalogue number E3a(1)Z, listed at a value of NZ$350+ (approximately £180).

PRICE: £125 (31% discount)


New Zealand’s highest mountain

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Description: New Zealand 1902 (Apr) ½d green 'Mount Cook' and 'Cowan' paper, watermark 43, showing mixed perforations 14 and 11 (at left), SG306.

Condition: A lightly used example with part squared circle. Minor wrinkle, barely detectable, and a very fine example of this issue.

An important New Zealand early pictorial stamp issue, with Mount Cook holding deep spiritual significance and home to New Zealand's tallest mountain and longest glacier.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £75.

PRICE: £60 (20% discount)


One of the world’s most active volcanoes

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Description: New Zealand 1902-07 5d deep brown, watermark 43 sideways (to right from back, and reversed), perforations 11, lower right corner block of 8 (4x2) from R9/10/9-12, SG311avar.

Condition: A fine and fresh unmounted mint positional block of eight with full original gum. Couple of minor blemishes (R9/9 with nick at top, R9/12 with small bend), but showing a very prominent plate scratch (through the 'Ruapehu' vignette) on R10/10. Lovely appearance and a very scarce and desirable positional multiple.

A beautiful philatelic display piece of one of the most attractive of the early New Zealand pictorial issues. Depicts Otira Gorge (with an inset view of Mount Ruapehu, one of the world’s most active volcanoes).

New Zealand Campbell Paterson catalogue value is $1,950+ (approximately £1,000) as six fine unmounted examples.

PRICE: £495 (51% discount)


Extinct but eternally captured on stamps

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Description: New Zealand 1907-08 3d brown 'Huia', reduced format, perforations 14x13, 13½ (comb), block of 4, SG378.

Condition: A brilliant mint block with original gum, (lower pair unmounted mint). Some slightly short perforations at right, which do not detract from what is a lovely block.

By 1906 the ½d, 3d, 6d and 1s pictorial stamp printing plates needed to be replaced. The opportunity was taken to reduce in size the 3d, 6d and 1s stamps so that they would be the same size as the 1d value.

Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) became extinct in 1907 as a result of hunting, clearing of their forest habitat and over- zealous specimen collecting for overseas museums.

The bird was noted for its green black plumage, its rounded orange wattles and white-tipped tail. The female had a long, slender curving bill which made it easily distinguishable from the male, which had a much shorter but more powerful beak.

Almost always seen in pairs, they normally bounded along the ground or from branch to branch, flying only when necessary.

Huia tail feathers were greatly prized by the Māori as symbols of rank and used as adornment by chiefs.

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £220+.

PRICE: £175 (20% discount)


And finally… something “super rare”

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Description: New Zealand 1935 (1 May) 'Second Pictorial' die proofs (SG559/69). 1935 (1 May) 'Second Pictorial' 2d, 2½d, 4d to 8d, 1s, 2s, 3s, nine values, De La Rue stamp-size die proofs in issued colours on thick, slightly surfaced unwatermarked wove with 2mm margins and part original gum.

Condition: Couple of trivial blemishes mentioned for accuracy (1s with small corner thin, 3s with minor split at top of frame due to pressure of printing), but a beautiful series of great rarity.

The ½d, 1d, 1½d and 3d values are not present; the 9d value of the set was printed by lithography by Waterlow, and does not exist in this form.

One of the greatest of all New Zealand rarities and a stunning showpiece.

PRICE: £9,500


Own the first pictorial stamps today

To purchase the featured stamps, either:

1. Place your order directly through our online store by clicking on the “BUY IT NOW” icons

2. Email me at

3. Call on +44(0)1534 639998

4. Message us to +44(0)7700702962

If you are interested in the complete collection comprising seven early pictorial stamps from New Zealand, you will need to contact me quickly so I can reserve them all for you.

The collection is available for the price of £12,330.

Have a good weekend.

Kind regards

Mike Hall

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