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Stamp News  May 2012 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 


NZ higher denominations on cover: where are they?


Prestige Philately conducted a dedicated New Zealand auction on 30 March. I had looked forward to the appearance of the catalogue, as I was hopeful some wow factor high denomination frankings of the 20th century might be present. The sale contained plenty of mint, used, and 19th century covers, some nice, all very well presented in a fine catalogue, but disappointingly for me, no 20th century high denomination frankings I so craved.

Over many years I have noted that few covers, or other commercial postal articles of 20th century NZ of the type I would dearly love to see, in fact turn up. Items such as higher denomination Postal fiscal "Arms" on Clipper rate airmail articles to overseas, QEII on horseback 10/- (the set was the subject in this column for October 2011), 1960 Pictorial £1, even the $2 which replaced it. I have noted Clipper rate items from Australia franked at over £9 and from GB to Australia at over £20. My NZ Trade colleagues advise me that the £10 Arms has been seen on a parcel tag, but denominations such as £2 10s, £3 10s and £4 10s appear unrecorded on intact postal articles. I accept therefore that some of the items I am seeking may well not exist in the preferred form.

By way of stimulating some interest in this type of material, which so seldom appears in the market place, I've featured a modest selection of some of my higher denomination frankings, and invite others to share their wow factor items with me at I'll revisit this subject later if the response impresses me!

                                       Figure 1. 6/- Arms solo to Czechoslovakia

It took me many years to obtain a 6/- Arms on commercial cover; then in the space of two years I had four examples of usage of that denomination. I must not have been looking in the right places. It is scarce, however, unlike the much more readily available 4/- and 5/-. Figure 1 is my only solo use, from Wellington to less usual destination of Czechoslovakia, 2 Feb 1937, paying triple 2/- ½oz. airmail rate, via Greece.

                             Figure 2. 6/- Arms pair for multiple of airmail rate to UK

Figure 2 is a 6/- pair, again from Wellington, sent 29 Jan 1937 to U.K., paying eight times 1/6d ½oz. airmail rate (weight 3½-4ozs.). Both this and Figure 1 were carried on the Imperial Airways service via Australia and Singapore.

                                         Figure 3. 6/- Arms, again, this time to US

15 Jan 1952 use from Palmerston of the homemade wrapper shown as Figure 3, with Customs label on reverse showing "Magazine/2oz". The rate of 6/3d is apparently 1/3d x5.

                                      Figure 4. Arms 7/- + 5/- Clipper service to US

The Pan American Clipper service carried Figure 4, a 13 Sep 1940 Dunedin cover to U.S. bearing Arms 7/- + 5/-. The reverse has affixed "OFFICIALLY SEALED." label, within which is noted "torn in transit"; the NZ Censor label has in turn subsequently been affixed over that label. PAA plane American left Auckland on 18 September, arriving Honolulu on the 20th. It left Honolulu on the 21st, but returned for reasons unknown, finally departing the following day for San Francisco. The aggregate franking of 12/- represents triple the expensive 4/- per ½oz. Clipper airmail rate. One can readily see how the highest denomination Arms stamps could be called upon to frank a heavy Clipper service destined article.

                                                    Figure 5. Arms 7/- + 6/- to Italy

The fourth of my 6/- Arms items, with 7/-, Figure 5 shows no indication of having flown to Italy, although the high 13/- franking suggests it did. Sent from Hawera on 1 Nov 1948, I suggest it is an underpayment of 6d for 1/6d ½oz. airmail rate x9 (i.e. 4-4½ozs.) = 13/6d.

                               Figure 6. 7/6d Arms solo survives catastrophic event

Figure 6 was featured in this column some years ago, but reappearance this month seemed appropriate. This 7/6d Arms solo use is the actual item which encouraged me to commence building a one-frame Arms postal use exhibit, which owing to rarity (or non-existence!) of denominations above £1 is proving a challenge. I may have to entitle the exhibit: Postal Usage of New Zealand's "Arms" series, to £1.

The subject item left Wellington 11 Mar 1954, and was on board the BOAC Constellation Belfast, which crashed at Singapore two days later. 33 were killed, and seven injured. Dramatic items such as this are well worth seeking out for usage exhibits; the viewer's eye is irresistibly drawn to them. The rate was for 1/6d ½oz. airmail x5.

This is probably the most valuable item featured this month. I value it at $750; the others range from $200 to $400. Not expensive items considering scarcity.

                                Figure 7. 8/- Arms solo for double Clipper rate to US      

Figure 7 is a 1941 use of 8/- Arms for Pan American Clipper service, Christchurch to U.S. This was for the double ½oz. rate.

                                 Figure 8. £1 Arms and supporting cast to Sweden

The £1 Arms is the highest denomination of that series I have. Figure 8 is 7 Nov 1954 intact parcel-wrapping Wellington to Sweden. The Customs label on reverse tells us the package contained "Wooden samples/No value". The rate of £1.4.8d is for 1/6d ½oz. airmail x16 (i.e. 7½-8ozs.) and presumably 8d Late fee for a parcel?

                                 Figure 9. QEII 10/- + 6d on fashioned envelope

On to the other two series mentioned in the introduction. Figure 9 is a recently acquired QEII on horseback 10/- + Large figure 6d, former a very elusive stamp on cover. This 6 May 1959 use from Linwood to U.S. is of a conveniently fashioned envelope, which the Customs label tells us contained "Batteries hearing aid/NCV/3½ozs". Calculation of the rate of 10/6d has therefore been done for us: 1/6d ½oz. airmail x7. The U.S. purple handstamps advise the article was passed free of Customs charges in L.A.

                               Figure 10. Pictorial £1 + 3/- uprate Stationery

The 1960 Pictorial series is a beauty for a multi-frame usage exhibit. The £1 is highly elusive, and Figure 10 is an item which would be very welcome in such an endeavor. High denominations on small articles are seldom encountered. This 7 Oct 1967 uprate of 1/4d Registered Letter at Wellington, three months after introduction of Decimal currency I accept as commercial. It has been sent to a family member in U.K., endorsed "COINS" at left, and likely contained a selection of the new currency coinage. The rate is $2.43 (£1.4.4d converted to Decimal currency) which doesn't quite work out: airmail was 20c per step, and registration 15c, so likely the correct rate was $2.35, for 20c airmail x11 + 15c registration. I think the use of the sturdy Stationery envelope appealed for sending coins, and the additional few cents in price wasn't a deterrent to sender.

I like NZ stamps on commercial covers, etc, and can't get excited chasing fifth rate Chalons, which is the quality of the vast majority of the stamps from this series on the market, particularly the used. At the 1988 Midas incredible sale of those issues in Zurich, I bought several of the record multiples, such as the mint block of 25 perforated 1/-, some gorgeous covers, and first rate quality unused and used. That exercise spoilt me for "ordinary" Chalons.

A best-of-kind exhibit of NZ 20th century high denomination frankings on commercial postal articles, in 8-frame configuration? Now that I would be excited to see.


Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962. He founded Rodney A Perry Auction Galleries (now Millennium Philatelic Auctions) in 1971. As a collector he has exhibited    nationally and internationally. Rod prefers his used stamps on cover and likens taking a stamp off its original cover to converting a tree to woodchips.