New Zealand’s 1855 Full-Face Queens
By David Smitham
New Zealand’s first issue, known as the Full-Face Queens because of their use of the Chalon Head design of Queen Victoria, were used from 1855 until the first stamps of the Side Face series were introduced in 1873. David Smitham provides details of the 18- year reign of the Full-Face Queens including printings, paper, watermarks, perforation experiments and fiscal use.
New Zealand’s first stamps, featuring the Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria, were issued 15 years after the world’s first stamps – Great Britain’s 1d. black and 2d. blue. Unlike Great Britain, in May 1840 New Zealand had a very small population. European settlement of the colony commenced during the 1840s; stamps featuring the arrival of settlers were issued in 1940 (a 3d. value marking the centenary of immigrants landing on Petone Beach), 1948 and 1950 (centenaries of Otago and Canterbury, respectively). As in Britain, prior to the supply of stamps, New Zealanders had the option of prepaying the cost of sending letters, or alternatively they could send letters so that the recipient paid the postage.
Figure 1 depicts the 1d., 2d. and 1s. FullFace Queens, which were first placed on sale in Auckland on 20 July 1855. These were printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co., in London, without perforations in sheets of 240 stamps in 20 horizontal rows of 12, on watermarked paper featuring a large six-pointed star (Fig 2). The printing plates were also shipped out to New Zealand, along with the supplies of stamps. The initial printing consisted of 12,000 1d., 66,000 2d. and 8000 1s. stamps.
Featured in Figure 3 is a cover bearing a pair of 1d. dull carmine Full-Face Queen stamps sent from Auckland to Birmingham, England. It features a manuscript ‘6’, indicating that 6d. was to be paid upon delivery to addressee. Prior to 27 March 1857, New Zealand stamps issued in 1855, could only be used to pre-pay mail within New Zealand. Mail addresses overseas could not be prepaid at all. The 2d. for a ½oz. letter was the Colonial rate set down from 1 April 1851 to cover all letters passing through any post office in the Colony. From 27 March 1857, it was still only possible to prepay the overseas postage on mail sent to the UK or via the UK. Mail sent direct to other countries could not be prepaid until 1 January 1859, and this included Australia, at which time the rate for a ½oz. letter was 6d.
This is only one of three covers recorded bearing a 1d. dull carmine pair, and believed to be the earliest recorded date of use of the 1d. value, 13 August 1855. This cover, part of New Zealand’s Fig 1 The 1855 1d., 2d. and 1s, Full-Face Queens printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co.in London heritage, formerly part of the Joseph Hackmey collection of New Zealand is now held in The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.
Along with stamps and printing plates, Perkins, Bacon & Co. also sent out to New Zealand 18 different numbered obliterators to be used to cancel stamps. Two of each number (i.e. three dozen) were despatched from London; however, only 17 were used. Obliterator number 6 was withheld to avoid confusion with obliterator number 9. The numbered obliterators were initially distributed to the following towns: 1: Auckland. 2: Russell. 3: Hokianga. 4: Mongonui. 5: Bluff Harbour (Campbelltown). 6: –. 7: Wellington. 8: Wanganui. 9: New Plymouth. 10: Wellington. 11: Ahuriri. 12: Wanganui. 13: Rangitikei. 14: Nelson. 15: Nelson. 16: Port Victoria. 17: Christchurch. 18: Dunedin. Later, some other towns received the second numbered obliterators.
Occasionally, one may find Full-Face Queen stamps cancelled by manuscript, and sometimes overstruck by a cancellation applied at a nearby town en-route to its destination. Such situations, arose with the expansion of localities across the country at a faster rate than the New Zealand Post Office could supply them with datestamps. Where they did not have any official form of datestamp, Postmasters were instructed to cancel stamped mail by writing the name of the town (or an abbreviation thereof) in black ink across the stamp. Figure 4 features two manuscript cancelled 2d. Full-Face Queen stamps: ‘K’ and ‘Ho Ho’, being from Kowhai & Ho Ho Creek respectively.
The Richardson printings
J Richardson of Auckland, used these plates and produced the first locally made New Zealand stamps in November 1855, when 1d., 2d. and 1s. Full-Face Queens appeared on unwatermarked, but smooth-surfaced blue coloured paper. At least four different makes of paper were used since four different papermakers watermarks have been identified: a) SANDS & McDOUGALL MELBOURNE in double lined upper-case letters; b) CHARLES SKIPPER & EAST LONDON in somewhat similar lettering; c) SANDS & KENNY in similar lettering; and d) IPM Co 1852 in copper-plate upper-case letters. Stamps showing papermaker watermark (a) are scarce in this form and exceedingly rare in the other three.
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