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Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable New Zealand Stamps

Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 14/11/2023

We’ve already talked about the rarest stamps from Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Vatican, Italy, and Switzerland. Today we’ll take a look at the rarest and most valuable New Zealand stamps.

New Zealand Post History

The history of New Zealand Post (NZ Post, Māori: Tukurau Aotearoa), dates back to the first half of the 19th century. At that time, there were no official post offices in New Zealand and “the first whalers, missionaries and traders having to rely on occasional passing ships for inwards and outwards communications.” (NZ Post)

“In 1840, the first official Post Office in New Zealand was opened at Kororareka, when Captain Hobson, the newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor, arrived in the Bay of Islands and appointed William Clayton Hayes as Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates and Postmaster. Within six months, Hayes was suspended from duty – the first civil servant to incur this penalty in New Zealand – for neglect of duty and continual inebriety.

When New Zealand was established as a Crown Colony independent of New South Wales in 1841, HM Treasury in London, unaware that Captain Hobson had already created a Post Office under his control, issued a Warrant establishing the Post Office in New Zealand under British Post Office control. Change of control did not in fact take place until some 18 months later, and was returned to Colonial control again in 1850.”
(NZ Post)

Therefore, we can see that the actual history of New Zealand Post starts in the 1840s, and it starts functioning more efficiently in the 1850s.

First New Zealand Stamps

We’ve talked about the history of New Zealand post, but what about first stamps. As mentioned before, in these years

French ship ‘Astrolabe’ letter 27 February 1827

Letter sent by an explorer on the famous French ship ‘Astrolabe’, dated 27 February 1827. This is the only letter known to date from the Dumont d’Urville expedition.

“The earliest letters were ship letters handed to the captains of the rare vessels that stopped in New Zealand in those early days. The oldest cover in the collection is from 1824 and was written by a missionary. The most remarkable item from this period is a letter from a French explorer on board the famous exploration ship Astrolabe.

There are quite a few letters from settlers in Hokianga, a natural harbour in the North Island, dated between 1828 and 1840 and forwarded either as ship letters or via the Te Wahapu postal agency, an unofficial New South Wales post office. We also show two letters from the New Zealand Company, the first real colonial company. One of these was written on board a ship en route to New Zealand with emigrants on board.” (The Royal Philatelic Society London: 70th Anniversary Display by Members of The New Zealand Society of Great Britain to The Royal Philatelic Society London)

Letter London to Pahai 1841

Letter sent from London to Pahai, Bay of Islands, marked at origin with both the ‘PAID SHIP LETTER/LONDON’ oval and the London datestamp both dated 10 December 1841. On arrival the crowned GENERAL POST OFFICE AUCKLAND datestamp JU 14 1842 was applied.

First “Real” New Zealand Stamps

The first “real” New Zealand stamps were issued in 1855. These stamps., and related stamps with the similar design, are often named Chalon Heads or The New Zealand Chalon Issues: 1855 - 1873. As expected for this time, the main motif was the Queen Victoria - Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death in 1901.

Queen Victoria stamp, New Zealand 1855

Queen Victoria stamp

Denomination: 1 d (New Zealand penny)

New Zealand - 1855/07/20

Queen Victoria stamp, New Zealand 1855

Queen Victoria stamp

Denomination: 2 d (New Zealand penny)

New Zealand - 1855/07/20

Queen Victoria stamp, New Zealand 1855

Queen Victoria stamp

Denomination: 1 s (New Zealand shilling)

New Zealand - 1855/07/20

“Stick-on postage stamps were first used in New Zealand in 1855, when this ‘full-face queen’ stamp showing a young Queen Victoria was produced. Before this, every letter had to be individually paid for at the post office. The basic rate for local letters was twopence, so two of these stamps would be needed. A letter cost a shilling (12 pence) to send to England.” (teara.govt.nz)

“The Māori name for stamps is pane kuini (‘queen’s head’). Māori initially found the concept confusing, as in Māori culture the head is sacred and licking the head of the most prestigious person in the Empire seemed odd.” (teara.govt.nz)

Most Valuable New Zealand Stamp

At the moment, the most valuable New Zealand stamps is the 1949 H.M.S. Vanguard stamp. The stamp was printed for the scheduled visit of King George VI. “However, because of the king's ill health, the visit was cancelled and the stamps were ordered to be destroyed. One sheet was "liberated" before it could be burnt in the furnace.” (www.stuff.co.nz)

H.M.S. Vanguard - King George VI Visit stamp, New Zealand 1949

H.M.S. Vanguard - King George VI Visit

Denomination: 3 d (New Zealand shilling)

New Zealand – 1949

“An Auckland buyer took away the $62,000 stamp, a mint-condition three-penny HMS Vanguard stamp, one of only seven known examples.” (www.stuff.co.nz)

This price puts this stamp on the top of the list of the most valuable New Zealand stamps. Of course, there are other philatelic items, like the envelopes that achieved even greater prices. While New Zealand stamp values are not so impressive compared to some other countries, there are still a few hidden gems that could be worth a little fortune.

Today we’ve seen some of the oldest and the most valuable New Zealand stamps. Stay tuned and check us regularly for more articles in the “Rarest Stamps & Most Valuable Stamps” series.

Continue Reading

UK - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable UK Stamps

France - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable French Stamps

Germany - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable German Stamps

Ireland - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Irish Stamps

Belgium - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Belgium Stamps

The Netherlands - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Dutch Stamps

Australia - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Australian Stamps

Canada - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Canadian Stamps

Spain - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Spanish Stamps

Portugal - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Portuguese Stamps

Israel - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Stamps of Israel

Vatican - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Vatican Stamps

Italy - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Italian Stamps

Switzerland - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Swiss Stamps

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