Health 1929-30

The first health stamp was issued in 1929 and there was an annual issue up until 2016. For the 1929, 1930 and 1931 issues, the 1d surcharge was denoted Charity. From 1932 onwards this was changed to Health.

1929 Health 1930 Health

Both the 1929 and 1930 plates were produced by etching and contained 80 stamps in 8 horizontal rows. The stamps were printed at the Government Printing Office, watermarked NZ and star and comb perforated 14.

Stanley Davis was responsible for the vignette while L C Mitchell was responsible for the frame.

The two issues are similar with the 1929 issue inscribed Help stamp out tuberculosis while the 1930 issue has Help promote health.

The original plan for the 1930 issue was for the Smiling Boy design that was later used for the 1931 issue, but the die proofs from Perkins Bacon were unsatisfactory and so the Government Printer quickly modified the 1929 design.

This was the first time that the cost of a New Zealand postage stamp was greater than its postal value. This required a special clause to be added to the 1929 Finance Act. The extra charge went towards supporting health camps.

Sheet Layout
1930 Health 1929 Health 1929 Health

Neither issue had plate numbers on the sheets. With the 1929 issue, it was noted that the plate was wearing at the top and so buffer bars were added. They are always present with the 1930 issue. As well as buffer bars, sheet numbers appear at the top right as can be seen in the right hand example for the 1929 issue and below for the 1930 issue.

1930 Health

The paper used for the printing was the same as that used for the GV definitives and was suitable for 240 small sized stamps. When divided in two, it was suitable for two sheets of 80 of the larger Health stamps. As the paper was divided in two, only half the printed sheets have sheet numbers at top right.

The paper had letter watermarks in the margins. To ensure that the letter watermarks did not appear on the printed stamps, the sheet of stamps printed on the right hand half have the sheet number and are skewed to the left. That means that the sheets have a wide margin on the right and a narrow margin on the left. Sheets of stamps printed on the left hand half sheet are skewed to the right and so have a wide margin on the left and a narrow margin on the right. Some examples are shown above.

Dates and numbers

The 1929 stamp was initially on sale for a very short time (11 December 1929 to 28 February 1930) and were very much seen as Christmas stamps. The 1930 stamp was issued slightly earlier in the year (29 October) and the 1929 issue was again made available from 5 December 1930 which drew a lot of criticism. The Health stamps for 1929-31 were demonetized on 1 January 1935.

4,000,000 of the 1929 issue were printed and sales of 592,848 were therefore very disappointing. 1,000,000 of the 1930 issue were printed and the sales were only 215,543. In 1931, after examination of the stock of obsolete stamps, 2,633,840 of the 1929 issue and 484,720 of the 1930 issue were destroyed. That leaves a significant number unaccounted for.

Numbers sold:

first day cover
1929 Health on Cover

This example of the 1929 1d is postmarked in Seatoun, a suburb of Wellington, on 11th November 1932 and has a London redirection mark on the back on 21 December.

first day cover

It would miss the sailing of 11 November and be sent Wellington - Sydney on the Maunganui on 18 - 22 November. It would then go by rail from Sydney to Perth and from Fremantle to Colombo on the Maloja on 28 November - 7 December. Colombo - Karachi was by surface. Finally it was flown on the Karachi- London service on 14 - 20 December.

The required franking was 8d. The surface route via North America was faster. The Niagara left Auckland on 15 November and its mail was due in London on 16 December.

30 fd
1930 First Day

Example on piece of the 1930 1d postmarked in Wellington on first day of issue 29th October 1930.

30 health
1930 Health on Cover

This example of the 1930 1d on a commercial cover is postmarked in Christchurch on 6th November 1930 (the week after it was issued) and is addressed to the UK.


Fiftieth anniversary

The fiftieth issue of health stamps was in 1978 and, to celebrate this, the 10c value depicted the original issue of 1929. It was printed in sheets of 100 by Harrison and, along with a 12c value, in miniature sheets of 6.

They were issued on 2 August 1978 and remained on sale until 30 June 1979. Three million 10c stamps were printed in large sheets and there were 275,000 miniature sheets.


The above information is taken from The Postage Stamps of New Zealand Vol 1, published by the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand in 1938. All scans were made by the author.