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New Zealand Chalon Portrait Stamps
These were New Zealand's first postage stamps. They are also called the full face queens to distinguish them from the later Queen Victoria issues which were all oriented with the Queen's head to the side - hence the "side face" issues.
The first issue was in 1855, 15 years after the first ever stamp - the British penny black. The last was in 1872.
Shown here are a basic 17 value, colour and perforate/imperforate variations. There are very many more shade, paper, watermark and perforation varieties.
A Guide to New Zealand stamps may be of interest.
This site is not a catalogue - a conversion table is given between catalogues for collectors confused by different number usages. The page author is not a dealer in these stamps - and (sadly) has only a very modest collection of his own of these beautiful stamps.
The Imperforate Issues
Britain had commenced perforating its stamps in 1854 so it is perhaps surprising that New Zealand did not immediately commence on this. Perhaps it was the desire for local printing and the added complication which perforation added which discouraged its early adoption.
The stocks arrived in 1855 and the stamps were first used in July of that year. They were on star watermarked paper (the background to this page) starting a tradition of star watermarks in New Zealand stamps which continued until the 1970's.
Local printing commenced immediately, not using the supplied press but a commercial press of J. Richardson - the "Richardson" prints, with a trial using the supplied paper and then moving onto other stocks of paper. The papers used were quite variable. Paper was a scarce commodity in early colonial New Zealand. They are unwatermarked apart from occasional portions of a makers name in double lined letters.
The 6d and 3d values were a later addition to the range. In each case the plates came from London and were accompanied by further stocks of star watermarked paper, which was not initially used.
The early postage rates were 2d per half ounce for an internal letter and 6d per half ounce for a letter to Britain (See cover) - the source of the majority of New Zealand immigrants. Consequently these two are the commonest stamps. The early covers with the 1d value is most commonly found with two specimens making up the standard 2d postage. The 1d value had a short period as the legitimate local rate within Canterbury Province and was also a concession rate for servicemen. This was the time of the land wars and imperial regiments and Royal Navy ships were stationed in New Zealand.
The initial lack of a 6d value caused the 1/-, which was in good supply, to be used bisected within Otago Province.
The 2d being the most common in use has the greatest number of catalogued varieties.
In 1862 a Mr John Davies arrived to take up the post of government stamp printer. Thereafter he undertook all printings utilising the originally supplied press - the "Davies" prints. These printings reverted to using the previously supplied star watermark paper but other papers were used as well, some with other watermarks.
The Perforated Issues
Some rouletting and perforation was locally carried out on sheets originally supplied unperforated. This was done by local postage administrators.
Perforation at the time of manufacture took place from 1862 and used over the course of time, a variety of machines. When the machines were not working, some stamps were again issued imperforate.
By this time the local post rate (delivery by same post-office as where posted) had been reduced to 1d so stamps of this value became more commonly used.
In 1865 the first 2d plate was so worn that a new plate - (called Plate II) was obtained.
The 4d value was added in 1865. It is the rarest of the values as it was always a bit of an orphan, used on half to one ounce letters. It may also have been introduced to cover the 4d per half ounce surcharge on letters to Britain via Marseilles but this rate was raised the year the stamp was introduced.
The plates used soldiered on when they were severely worn. Because the recesses to hold the ink were very shallow the colours of these issues are lighter. Later stamps from noticeably worn plates are in the 1d, 2d (both plates) and 6d values.
As with the imperforate issues, the 2d being the most common in use has the greatest number of catalogued varieties.
A revision to the colours used took place in 1871
It was prompted by the observation that the 2d blue could be chemically induced to turn brown - the colour of a higher value stamp.
The changes made then were:
The shuffle was not quite of the same colours. The 1d brown is a lot paler than the browns used formerly on the 6d stamp.
The issue of the first side face Queen Victoria stamps in 1874 was the official end of the full face queens.
Stamps from late printings with a Wellington date stamp in the 1880's were cancelled to order rather than postally used.
There are a couple more printings to confuse the philatelist.
In 1884 a special run of the 1d, 2d (Plates 1 and 2) and 6d values was made for presentation purposes. They are on worn plates and the colours differ somewhat from the original issues. They were not perforated. Most were stamped specimen but not all.
Lastly there were a printings of the 2d in 1906 and 1913 in black - again from the old plates. These imperforate printings are quite common - a matter which comes a surprise to people used to black proof printings of old stamps being rare.
In 1936, after these uses, the plates were scored across, so there will be no more printings from them, though the plates still exist.
Postage Via Marseilles
This may seem an odd thing. The rate was first gazetted in 1857. The route was overland across Suez (the canal opened later in 1869), Packet Boat to Marseilles and overland across France. This was faster than route completely by sea. See a typical cover of 1867, marked via Marseilles.
After the completion of the US trans-continental railway in 1869 some covers are marked to go via San Francisco. The completion of the Panama Isthmus railway in 1855 meant there was a reliable service across the isthmus and some covers are marked via Panama from then onward.
An Excel spreadsheet with a Chalon stamp timeline is downloadable from here.
See link for catalogue number conversion table.
R.J.G. Collins and H.T.M Fathers, Eds. The Postage Stamps of New Zealand., 1938.
Robin Gwynn. Collecting New Zealand Stamps, 1988.
ACS On Line Catalogue
Len Jury Online Catalogue
About the Chalon Portrait
The Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria was by Alfred Edward Chalon, R.A. (1780-1860) painted in 1838, the year after she acceded to the throne. Chalon sketched the Queen on her first visit to the House of Lords in 1837 and derived the painting from that. In fact he produced three different paintings and it was much copied by other painters for official portraits. These, engravings and mezzotint copies of the portrait made it a well known image in early Victorian times.
It was much used as a basis for stamp design early in the Queen's reign. The New Zealand stamp used more of the portrait than other designs, most of which concentrated on the head. See Other Countries
Modern Use of the Portrait and Design
|A 1955 New Zealand
stamp reused the 1855 design but replaced Queen Victoria with Queen
Elizabeth. The image source is a Dorothy Wilding photograph.
The stamp of course celebrated the centenary of the first issue.
The sash is repeated. The Queen is shown wearing the same diadem as
Victoria in the Chalon portrait. This is the diadem made for King George
IV. The necklace is different.
The origin of the portrait is the same as below, but with the head less turned.
|This design from 1953 is also based on a Dorothy Wilding photograph. As seen here there is a garter brooch on the sash that is not repeated in the stamp centenary issue - no doubt to make it closer to the Chalon portrait.||
|Three of the New Zealand stamps were reproduced on a commemorative set of New Zealand stamps issued in 1980 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of their original issue. (One of three shown)|
A 1988 miniature sheet issued on the centenary of the Royal Philatelic Society of NZ used an original portrait:
Buying Full Face Queens
Try eBay auctions. Searches here for "new zealand chalon", "new zealand ffq" often turn up examples for sale. However some sellers use neither of those terms so you may need to turn up the British Commonwealth category, search it for New Zealand and scroll through the page.
Buying high valued stamps without the opportunity for inspection is not recommended from other than the most reputable of vendors.
Campbell Patterson Ltd of Auckland usually have a great variety on sale.
The Complete Stamp Company have a large on-line stock.
Sandafayre are worth a look.
Scotia Philately Ltd Postal History & Stamp Investment
Page author: G Law
June 05, 2013