Thursday, 2 April 2015

1955 Stamp Centenary

      This set has already been shown on this blog, in our post 2005 - 150 Years of New Zealand Stampsbut considering the importance of this issue to the history of New Zealand Stamps, we felt it deserved its own page. I believe the clever way these three stamps were designed is often over looked by collectors in their search for more attractive and exciting stamps. I hope this page below might go some way to correcting this.

         The 1955 featured the three values shown above. While appearing to be simple designs, I will show you below that some thought has gone into them, cleverly linking the stamps and postal system of 1855, with the stamps and postal system of 1955.  
        Designs of three of the most famous designers of New Zealand stamps were selected. R M Conly's design depicting a Maori Mail Runner was used for the 2d stamp, J Berry's design depicting Queen Elizabeth II in a style similar to that of the first New Zealand stamps was selected for the 3d stamp and A G Mitchell's design depicting an aircraft in flight appeared on the 4d stamp.

 3d - Queen Elizabeth II.
First we will look at the design of the 3d value showing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. In this design 100 years of stamp design has been brought together on one stamp.

If you look at the three stamps below, on the left can be seen the classic design of the first postage stamps issued by New Zealand, the 1855 - Full-Faced Queens. On the right can be seen the more modern design of a stamp issued for the 1953 Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth II. Now lets combine details of both these stamps issued 100 years apart, and now we get the stamp in the middle showing Queen Elizabeth II on a classic Full-Faced design. 

1855 6d Full-Faced Queen.                                3d - Queen Elizabeth II.                                    1953 3d Royal Visit.

2d - Maori Mail Runner.                                                                                  4d - Aeroplane.

For the other two values of this set I believe they should be considered together as they actually fit nicely together as a pair. First we have the 2d - Maori Mail Runner representing a way mail was transported in 1855. Secondly we have the 4d - Aeroplane, a Douglas DC-3 by the looks, that represents mail transport in 1955. Again we have 100 years of stamp history cleverly shown in these two designs. I think the more classic style of James Berry on the 2d and Alan Mitchell's modern style on the 4d work well together to show this.
First Day Covers.
 Our first example of a FDC is a unprinted (homemade) cover sent from Nelson to Nelson. Notice the post mark clearly reads 18th July, 1955. The sender has also gone to the trouble of writing 'First Day Cover' in the top left corner.
From the 16th to the 22nd of July 1955, there was a Stamp Exhibition held in Auckland. Special covers were printed and a special date stamp made for mail sent from this exhibition. The cover above shows the 1955 Stamp Centenary set with the exhibition cover and cancel. Notice it is also a First Day Cover, having been sent on the 18th of July.  
2d Errors.
It appears that this Maori running must have been move fairly fast because during designing of the stamp he has begun to run out of the picture. Yes, its a colour shift in the brown that has moved the runner to the right so part of the green background can now be seen through his front leg. 

The corner of a sheet became folded over during perforation which has created this
rather unusual effect in the selvage on this block. Evidence of the fold can also be seen
as creasing across the corner.

Technical information.

      Date of Issue:
18 July 1955
R M Conly, J Berry and A G Mitchell
Thomas De La Rue, England
      Stamp Size:
2d : 24mm x 40mm;  3d : 24mm x 27mm;  4d :  40mm x 24mm
      Sheet Size:
2d and 4d : 120 stamps per sheet (two panes of 60); 3d : 160 stamps per sheet
Recess printed - Intaglio
      Perforation Gauge:             
      Paper Type:
Wiggins Teape 'Royal Cypher', multiple NZ and star watermark

Some of the images in this post were used with permission from the illustrated catalogue of StampsNZ
You can visit their web site and On-line Catalogue at,  


  1. Hi Anne
    Awesome post.
    I did nit realize the connection between 1855 & 1955.
    I like how you linked the styles between those two designers too.

    1. Thanks Ricky.
      Just saw you posting now.
      You've given me the word I needed concerning those two designers. Its their "style." I changed this in my text above.
      (So you know that name they use in my blog)
      Awesome Anne.