The 9th Maynard Sundman Lecture

February 5, 2011

Robert Odenweller: The Philately of New Zealand: Innovation Born of Necessity, 1855-1955

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Thank you Alan, and thank you everyone for coming.

David my brother and I funded the Sundman Lecture several years ago.

This is the ninth annual lecture and really to honer our father, Maynard Sundman.

Our father died a few years ago at 92 years old.

He started collecting as a boy in the '20s and he just loved stamps, and then soon after became a dealer and would sell stamps to his chums in grade school during recess and things like that.

And he, he loved combining the two and he was so excited about his business and the idea that he could bring the joy of collecting, the fun of collecting, to a wide audience to just thousands and thousands of people that on Sundays he would go to the post office and pick up the mail and sort it out on the porch.

And he, whenever we would take trips, we drove around the country once every little town we'd go to dad would say or we have customers here.

And he just so connected with the customers through the mail.

And as I mentioned when he passed away the New York Times did an obituary on him and the reporter from The Times called me and asked a few questions and I said gosh, you know, obviously I love my father and I think he's a great man.

I knew he would, my father would have been surprised that the Times was doing an obituary on him.

And I asked, why? And they said, are you kidding? He's advertising pioneer, not just in stamps but in advertising.

In the '50s he ran national ads and would get hundreds of thousands of people to send in for, Hitler head stamps, and built his business from that.

And so it was fun to to get an outside perspective that I was unaware of about my father.

And as I mentioned David and I made a gift to the Postal Museum some years ago but it really took Allen Kane to get this lecture series going.

And every year just gets better and better and Cheryl Gantz and Daniel and all the people at the Smithsonian just do such a wonderful job.

And so we're really proud, what's happened and with the series and have speakers like Bob Odenweller.

And because it now is recorded and on the Internet, it's an immortality for Bob and we put the videos on our website too and thousands of people each year look at these videos.

So it really, there may be a small audience here, but it really reaches a large worldwide audience important to the hobby And I think in keeping with my father's mission which was to bring the fun of collecting to you. Thank you.



I might add that thousands a year look at the lectures on our own website as well.

So we do have a good outreach.

Thank you Don and David for your ongoing support.

It means a lot to the museum, and to philately, and to the country.

And I too would like to welcome you all to the Postal Museum and the ninth Sundman Lecture.

My name is Cheryl Ganz and I'm the Chief Curator of Philately.

First I'd like to share a little bit about our schedule of events today.

I ask that you turn off your cell phones.

And I wanted to introduce Erin who's going to wave in the back of the room.

Erin is our Public Programs Chair and she did the coordination for much of this.

And Tadas, who's at the door handing out programs.

And he's a philatelist, serious philatelists, and one of our our Volunteers here at the Museum and gives tours.

After Bob's talk we'll have a question and answer session.

So I would ask that you hold your questions until that time.

When you have a question, if you'll put your hand up, I'm going to bring the microphone over to you so that people who are listening online and people who tune in later can hear your questions.

This is broadcast, as Don said, live in the United States and worldwide which means there might be a few people from New Zealand listening in.

And if they aren't we sure hope somehow we let them know so they can listen later.

The web address for listening online is in your program.

So you might want to pass that out at your stamp clubs or to some of your friends.

Following the question-and-answer session we have a complimentary reception out here in the foyer.

We do ask that you keep the food and drink to that area of the museum.

The museum is open until 5:30 so if you haven't seen the Collecting History exhibit which was curated by Dan Piazza who's a curator here at the Museum.

It tells the story of how our collection grew from one object to over six million objects.

And it's got some delightful material that isn't normally seen on display.

Also with your program you might have noticed there's an evaluation form and we encourage you to fill that out and turn it in.

You're welcome to join our mailing lists through that.

And certainly, we always welcome people who want to become members and you can ask anyone who works here and we'll we'll help you get that going.

So I always ask every year, how many in the room are stamp collectors? Pretty good turnout, thank you.

And how many of you all belong to a club of some kind? Oh good, good, good.

And I was going to say, how many people have never been to the museum before? But I think I recognized so many of you that I didn't think I'd get anyone new this time.

One thing I always like to ask is that at our reception, that you find someone you've never met or talked to before and go up and start a conversation.

it just makes it more fun for everyone.

So now, the purpose my being up here is to introduce our speaker Bob Odenweller.

When I'm at a party and it's my turn to give a toast, I have a favorite toast.

I like to say, pretend this is my champagne glass here, to philatelists, may you know some, may you be one, and may you influence others.

And that kind of sums Bob up pretty well.

Talking about knowing some, Bob is so connected nationally and internationally on all kinds of levels.

He's probably one of the most networked Americans in our hobby.

So he really does know some.

Be one. Well when you look inside your program we had to leave a lot out.

So Bob is accomplished to say the least.

And he's been creative, innovative, and dedicated, just beyond compare.

He's a legend in his own lifetime.

And finally, influence others.

And this is how I see Bob.

Last year Bob got the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award, this is given to very few people.

And it's not just because you're accomplished.

It's not because you have a laundry list of things you've done, talks, exhibits, etc., offices held.

The committee that selects the recipient looks for how did you do things that changed philately, made a difference.

And Bob's name came right to the top of the list because Bob is one of the key mentors in our hobby.

And not only has he mentored a wide variety of people who have also become accomplished, all of them are out there mentoring.

So Bob has set up this mentoring tradition that just keeps going.

And I myself had many mentors in this hobby.

And it's a tradition that I think is crucial to the future of continuing to have people who are advanced and dedicated to the study of stamps and postal history.

So it's my great honor to introduce to you Robert Odenweller.


How do you live up to something like that? Thank you for all you stalwarts to manage to make it out here this evening or this afternoon.

It's particularly difficult when the weather is not so nice to have to face what's coming out where I have to go back to this evening.

That's probably going to be the more difficult part.

The selection of something to speak about was an interesting thing because I knew that we were going to be reaching not just some accomplished collectors but people who are fairly low-level, or consider themselves to be low-level, and yet to try to make it interesting to all.

And when I went through a different range of possibilities, I thought about the particular, unique situation that New Zealand was in being halfway around the world.

And that caused them to improvise many things.

Well in these days of instant messaging, it's easy to forget how people communicated it with one another 150 years ago.

So imagine how difficult it was for people who were just settling in New Zealand, a country that's literally a half world away from England, that they had so recently called home.

Well if you take a look here at England, the typical ships would go out and around through the Straits of Gibraltar, down the Suez and the Red Sea to Ceylon which is now call Sri Lanka, and then over to a Sydney, Australia and then finally down to New Zealand.

From England to New Zealand right about this spot here is the exact distance around the far side of the world, The Antipodes.

From here in Washington DC it would be about, oh a thousand miles southwest of the southwestern tip of Australia.

Just to give you an idea of how far was to go.

And of course the only way any transportation took place to carry supplies or whatever, was by ship which depended on air, wind and the weather, and sometimes they didn't make it very far.

It took roughly two months for the ship to get down from England to New Zealand and then another two months to go back and if there was something that had to be done in the meantime, then that took a little bit more time.

So typically a round trip of a letter would take as much as half a year to go from the first initiated letter until it came back to the far side.

That's pretty tough.

Ultimately, and nothing went westbound, the Whalers used to go by the Cape Horn here the Drake Passage and so on and up to the whaling grounds near New Zealand, up to a Hawaii, but no regular transportation took that way.

A little later on New Zealand did connect with England through Panama and sometimes through Callao in Peru and then worked its way over.

Then ultimately in 1869 when the Transcontinental Railroad was established it went there and then down to New Zealand.

And that cut down a little bit of time. But it was still along time.

So the interesting thing, and this is hard for people who haven't played the game, is to understand that local newspapers would advertise when ships were due to sail.

And people would scribble letters together as quickly as they could whenever they knew a sailing was going to be imminent since the next sailing might not be for a whole month.

And the usual time in transit, as I told you, is about two months.

Imagine what difficulty the post office had trying to make stamps or get materials to make the stamps.

Well distance was only the beginning of the problem.

The first supply of stamps came from London and they sent everything.

They sent a supply of stamps, the plates, the ink, the gum, the paper, and even a full printing press.

Well you'd think that that would get them started printing stamps.

No they didn't have anybody to do it.

And they finally found only one person in all of Auckland who was qualified.

His name was John Richardson and he wanted to use his own press.

So the press stayed locked away for almost eight years.

It's still in the loading dock.

He didn't like the paper. He tried printing one or two sheets of the paper. It wasn't good enough for him.

So he decided that he was going to reject that and use his own paper.

Well he had to get the paper from the government and they printed the government Gazette on paper that was blue which was an interesting color.

And that lasted up until 1857. Then they switched over to white paper both of them without a watermark of any sort or basically there were some minor watermark in it.

And that stayed that way until 1862. So he relied on that particular batch of paper.

Well there was another problem with the paper. It didn't fit. It was too short to cover the plate.

So let's just take a look at what happened.

Some of these stamps had overlaps where the paper, with this one you can see very well how this piece of paper was actually right there on top of it and both parts have parts of the cancellation that are completed there showing that it stayed together on the envelope until the person who got it soak the stamp apart and all of a sudden realized he had two stamps.

I was fortunate enough to get this and realized that it was probably the biggest overlap variety there was.

Well the Queen has this one. These three by the way are courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

This particular stamp is the right hand end of a sheet where it was overlapped.

It was down sort of at the bottom of the stamp and it just slowly worked his way up as it went across the side of the sheet.

So this one is actually listed in Stanley Gibbons Catalogue as without value.

Well there's only one and it was a freak the way it was done but this one I think is actually a little bit better.

This one also shows how the piece of paper from below overlap the other and then all of a sudden the stamp came up short.

The one below would be just missing in a large part of its upper margin.

And, this one you can see where the upper piece of paper overlapped and took away a little bit of the top making it look like a top margin copy but there's part of the design missing there's that gives you the clue.

So it's all very interesting. How did this happen? Well this is a page from my book on the first issues of New Zealand.

And the paper was called basically foolscap.

Well now nobody has really good idea of the exact dimensions of foolscap paper.

But this is pretty close to it.

It's about 432 millimeters high and about 340 millimeters wide.

Well that was a little bit too wide so they trimmed off the side to make one about 280 and that went all the way down at the bottom and they had to take another piece and cut it with into thirds.

One of those thirds was used to overlap at the bottom, another of those third was used to overlap at the top since we see the overlaps between rows five and six, and rows 15 and 16.

So all of this was necessary to create full sheets of stamps.

And it took a lot of work.

Well after doing only his very first printing he asked for a thirty-three percent increase in what he was paid to do all this which was not a bad deal.

He still made his own ink.

And he was finally replaced in 1862 by a fellow named John Davies who printed everything that New Zealand had from that point on.

And fortunately he used all the supplies that were in England or came from England.

But again we have that problem of being halfway around the world and having to realize what's going on and when it was necessary to order more.

Well, that was one of the first innovations that he came up with.

The next came about two years later when the prepayment of postage was possible.

Up until that point they only had three stamps.

They had a one penny stamp which was meant for soldiers and sailors. There weren't any to speak of in the country.

A two penny stamp which paid for all the local and all the overseas mail, and that two penny stamp only paid as far as Sydney, Australia, or New South Wales at the time.

And then the shilling stamp, was way too much. It had the equivalent of, I think, $18.00 in today's buying power.

So what they did was, and people who received letters in England at that time would get this envelope with a two penny stamp on it and there'd be a big six on that saying, excuse me, but you have to pay sixpence to get this letter.

So they'd opened the letter and it would be a long lost relative who's asking for money.

Well they had to spend six sixpence to be able to find out they're being dunned or requested for cash and it wasn't really all that great.

Fortunately the New Zealanders finally figured, okay, we'll allow you to prepay all the way, sixpence.

But with only two penny stamps they had a problem, because the two penny stamps were being printed as fast as they could, and you'd have to use a strip of three for every letter that was going overseas.

So they ordered a six penny plate and that took two years to get there, as one would expect.

Well, one postmaster had a solution.

The shilling stamp was not very useful for any purpose except maybe sending big packages and books.

So the stamps at that time also, can you imagine the sheet size was about this high about that wide.

So you have a large sheet of stamps.

You're not going to send that large sheet out to the postmaster because, where is the drawer he's going to put it in? Actually for the first four or five years or so, almost every one of them was cut into horizontal strips and before it was sent out.

So you can't even get blocks of the stamps from the first issues.

And because of that they had these lovely little strips and they'd had a more compact drawer that they could put them in and take the stamps out.

Well the postmaster in, Otago was the name of the town and the province, well when they changed the post office they changed the name of the town Otago into Port Chalmers, which was the port where Dunedin was the local, whoops getting a little ahead of myself, the number 18 went to both Otago, Port Chalmers and Dunedin.

And what he did in Port Chalmers was he just took this strip of stamps, cut off the next one and stuck a half a shilling stamp on and half a shilling is sixpence.

So wonderful, they had a way of paying the six penny rate and fortunately nobody bothered to say you can't do that.

So there are a total of twenty one of these envelopes that actually have these half a stamp on them.

And they had about ten of them from the London print stamp as well.

These are needless to say, fairly expensive pieces of stuff.

But the reason that he did all this was that in Otago the province they had a gold rush.

And all of a sudden they were running out of stamps.

The two penny stamps were going like nobody's business so he had to find some way to improvise.

So they managed to get around that problem until the six penny plate came through.

And then the stamps were produced.

As soon as it was produced and the stamps were available then they'd no longer do had any bisects.

But there were literally, we know of almost one bisect cover for every month during the entire period that these were coming out.

So it was a regular process.

Now a few other things.

The postmaster in Otago, or at this time in Dunedin, found that with the request for stamps he had to do something The original order for the stamps believe it or not they wanted them perforated, but that got lost in the mill, which was fortunate for classic collectors because they like imperforate stamps.

The thing was that he had this gold rush going on and he needed to have stamps separated a little bit more easily.

Well he came up with a number of different ways of doing it but he went to a local stationer who had a perforator and it perfored guage 13.

And he hired the perforator to perforate sheets.

Well the people that they had do the sheets were paid by the sheet that they perforated.

And they quickly found out they could stack two or three or four sheets on top of each other and they wouldn't know any better and get paid faster for doing more.

Unfortunately that led to perforations that sort of were a little bit misplaced as you can see here, causing double perforations.

Well when they saw those they said, whoops! They went back and redid them in the proper location.

So that is not so much of an innovation but it certainly has innovative characteristics to it.

They again ran out of paper in 1873.

And they pressed into operation.

They had already changed the colors of the stamps.

Notice that this is a three penny stamp.

The one penny was originally red and the two penny stamp was originally blue.

Well they shifted those because they thought that the sulphur hot springs in the certain areas were changing the colors and that they were losing revenue.

Well that was maybe a spurious thing but that's why they changed them.

However they ran out of paper again.

And they happen to have a paper that was created with New Zealand and mine and a head instead of a star, a large star, it had an NZ in the watermark.

And that was in 1864.

Well they didn't like that either so they went back to the large star paper.

Fortunately, as it turns out, that small amount of the large the NZ watermark was used a very tiny amount on the one penny stamp and the twopenny stamp was only slightly less rare.

There are no known unused copies of the one penny brown with the NZ watermark in existence that I know of.

There's one that is rumored to exist but I've never had a chance to see it.

But because of the way they were on the plate the perforations are usually pretty hideous on these things.

And I think this is probably the finest copy in existence.

Then they also had some paper that was basically unwatermarked and that had a number of different types.

One of them had script letters that may have looked a bit like this but not exactly like this.

Now these are all three parts of the the same image.

One of them is flipped over so you can see the shape of the letters here as they go on that particular stamp.

But the paper was originally believed to have been with the watermark smack in the middle of it.

And with the two penny, when you start getting the Warren design, and you can't see it too well here because I had it in the watermark fluid, there are enough clues that give you the ability to plate where it is on the original plate.

And I was able to find that it was on either the very top, or very bottom if they put it on upside down, of the sheet.

And sometimes they put it on right and sometimes on the backside.

So you have reversed, inverted, and so forth on the sheet.

And with the watermark script letters that's a very, very rare variety as well.

At the very end of 1873 they finally got a new supply of the star paper and they printed basically only the penny stamp.

And by that time the plate was so worn it was the original plate from 1855 to '73, 18 years of a fairly well commonly used plate, it was very, very, very, very worn and those last printings are easy to spot.

Well they replaced that with stamps that showed Queen Victoria in her side face or profile.

And now comes one of the real innovations that New Zealand threw into operation.

When you're halfway around the world from a postal printer where you can get paper pretty much on demand go around the corner and say, okay we need another couple reams of paper, fine you just take the ones that have defective stamps and you throw them away.

Not in New Zealand. What they did was they would actually cut the stamp that was bad out of the sheet.

Then they go to another donor sheet, grab a stamp and then patch it into place with little gum strips of paper that you can see right here.

And then they would reperforate the thing because it was hard to perforate.

Sometimes it was more mangling but you'll see shortly.

And so this stamp is the only one that has the original cone perforation where the top of the row of the stamps is a single row and then it had teeth coming down like this so printed actually perforated three sides of a stamp before it went down and perforated the next stamp below completing the bottom and so on.

So that's why it's called a comb, wide space teeth and a comb.

So you have the perf 12 by 11 and 1/2 comb, then you have the perf 11and 1/2, then you have the perf 10, and then along the bottom you have perf 12 and 1/2.

So it's literally every perforation they had available at the time.

Now add to that another little innovation that New Zealand did.

They figured, it's expensive to print these stamps, let's sell advertising.

So on the back of the stamp they advertised and sold advertising space.

Well when they first did it they printed the advertising on the gum.

And of course what happens when you lick the stamp? Part of the ad comes off and the people say, I'm getting poisoned! So they went ahead and they, the second and third printings, they finally printed it on the paper before they gummed it.

And then after that, the public didn't like it very much so they finally stopped doing that.

Now in 1898 they had a competition among the citizens of New Zealand and anybody who wanted to submit something.

They had art competition for stamps like the CSAC has nowadays with their requests and ideas of how to print stamps and what to print and so on.

And people would submit these designs.

And there were thousands that were sent out as a result of the competition and they selected these with the idea of promoting New Zealand overseas.

Well unfortunately the highest denomination that might have made it on an overseas thing regularly would have been a six penny stamp.

But they still went up to five shillings.

Sort of the same idea as what happened with the Columbian issues at the same time.

The high values didn't really have a great deal of use.

But anyway, they were printed first in London the same as with the original issues and then all the rest were done in New Zealand.

And they first printed them on unwatermarked paper, then they got watermark paper.

And they shifted from a perforation that was perf eleven which was perfectly good, to a new one, it was perforation 14.

Well the 14 perforation unfortunately drifted.

And every now and then you have a stamp where the perf 14 will be seen running into the design of the stamp.

And the quality control people said, this is not gonna do.

So they said, would you re-perforate those? Well the trustee line perforation machine gauged 11.

So now you wound up getting a perfectly fine mixed perf stamp where you have two pairs of different perfs parallel to each other on the same side.

A little point that one might know is that if you see that the perf 11 is into the stamp and the perf 14 is in the margin, it's a fake because the 14s were the only ones that were bad and then the 11 was used to correct it.

But the other way around you can get perfectly good donor material and then add your own little perforation and try to make something that's a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Doesn't work.

Now let's see, skipping way ahead of my notes.

So anyway, again this was an attempt to make a better stamp.

And as a matter of fact, this is probably one of the most perfectly centered copies you'll ever see of a sixpence of the pictorials let alone one that has mixed purfs.

Now if you were ever asked, what airmail stamps were the first in the world for a regular competition or regular service, you'd probably select either the Buffalo balloon which only flew one time or maybe the Ballon Monté of France which used the existing stamps of France and weren't different.

Unfortunately there was a situation that happened as a result of a tragedy on October 29, 1894.

Just after midnight the SS Wairarapa was bound from Sydney to Auckland and it came into a thick fog.

But it didn't decrease speed and it struck Great Barrier Island which is out in the bay from New Zealand, northeast, at full steam.

During the night a hundred and thirty-five people died.

The news didn't reach Auckland until three days later when a coastal ship came with survivors.

A year later they had the idea of establishing contact with the island by pigeon post and that got the first flight.

They didn't have stamps at the time.

But shortly after that two competing pigeon post companies came into being.

Both of them giving issues for the service.

It's interesting that the one that was the original one was the last one to come into being with the stamps and that was the one that printed these triangular shaped stamps rather than the rectangular ones that I would have had a chance to do but the snowstorm prevented me from getting to my vault to be able to get them so I could do a scan for you.

And these by the way are unusual in that the stamps were normally perforated and it took more perforations than there were stamps more single strikes of a perf than were stamped just because of the arrangement of the stamps on the sheet but that's another problem.

These are the two largest pieces of the improv the sixpenny stamp was in long sheets like this of 20 whereas the Schilling stamp was only in single back and forth version in strip with strips of 10.

So, they, I think it was this company that had the first pigeon that could go both ways.

He came in from Great Barrier Island one evening with a bit of a message on his leg was a stormy night.

He pecked on the bell to say, hey I'm here, I've got a message for somebody.

And they said nobody answered.

So he finally huffed up his feathers said, the heck with you I'm going back where I came from.

And he flew back.

So he became the first two-way pigeon.

And that way then they could send messages to Great Barrier Island just instead of just from.

And actually I was going to give you a scan also of an actual flimsy that the things, it's tissue paper with a pencil, soft pencil written note.

And the one I have says, please send six bushels of grain on the next ship, thank you very much. Charge my account.

So they were used commercially.

And it's nice because it was theoretically something that would be very philatelic.

Now, we also get to another interesting point.

The first coil stamps dispensed from a machine in the world were in New Zealand.

That was a New Zealand innovation.

October 19, '04, got a patent for a fellow named Dicky and a few months after the patent was concluded he was on a ship to the United States and he met a very wealthy lady from Tasmania, Australia Mrs. Kermode was her name and she had a patent mail bag seal that she was going to try to sell.

So she saw the possibilities of a stamp vending machine and made arrangements to purchase the machine and the cost of patenting it worldwide, giving him a substantial royalty.

So that was the, he turned around he went back home.

He didn't have to go all the way to the US.

Notice these big holes those were gripped by teeth in the machine to keep more than one stamp from being pulled out.

When it got to the end of the line then it was torn off at this serrated edge and the far end too.

Well if it happened that there was a stamp in between and it was cut out well then you have no serrates and so on.

This is one of the possibilities.

And over at the very far end here, you can see how the strips we're actually joined together and they used a little set of pins that were on a lever to help to join it together.

So you can see that those little tiny pins that stick the thing in there this is just a used copy here.

But it's quite an unusual thing and of course the US picked it up with a vengeance and is using coil stamps all over.

Well this was not a coil stamp of that sort.

This is another case of trying to save a sheet.

If you take a look at this stamp, and that stamp, they're darker than this one.

The one in the middle is a bit on the paler side and it was obviously from another donor sheet.

And as you can look here on the back you can see the gum strips of paper and the extra perforations.

But sometimes the gum strips of paper were so heavy that they wouldn't tear very well.

So they went in with a knife and they slit the paper.

So here you have an absolutely horrible mutilated strip of three stamps which is quite a rarity and a very collectible design.

A little later on they came up with the change in the design where it says dominion of New Zealand.

And these were lithographed.

And again guess what happened? They ran out of paper.

So they went around looking for papers suitable to use for printing the stamps.

And the only thing they could find was an art paper that was large enough to cover the press and take a decent image.

But the art paper didn't have any watermark.

They said, oh we have to have a watermark.

So guess what they did? They made a lithograph plate of the watermark NZ and star which you can see here.

And then they applied that lithograph watermark to the backside of the sheets.

And down here you can see a TAG of the word postage, upside down and backwards.

And this just happens to have another patch and replace situation on it which makes it also fall into that little cute category.

But it's another innovation they had and it's the only situation I've ever heard of where lithograph applied the actual watermark.

There are lithograph lines on the front of some Russian stamps and things of that sort but this is the only one I know of.

Well another innovation, the postal clerks had certain denominations they dispensed frequently.

So they put them into counter coils, these large single stamp wide long coils of stamps that you could just pull off and tear off as many as you needed as you went through instead of having to take a full sheet out of the bin, tear off the single stamp, put the sheet back in, and so on.

Well that's fine.

But at the end of the day, what do you do to count up and see what your inventory is? What they did was they printed a number on salvage in between every 12 stamps.

Now 12 and the pence in the shilling all make a proper sense.

So if you multiply the number here 17 times the 5 that gives you the number or the value in schillings.

So I have an example here which is, let's just say, well, for example, if you have three stamps left before you get to the counting number that would, let's say the denominations of 5 penny as you have here, and the counting number, let's say it was instead of 17 is 14, so 5 times 3 is 15 pence or 1 shilling and 3 pence.

That's the odd stamps.

Then the 14 times 5 pence would be 70 schillings which is the same as 3 pounds and 10 shillings.

So a total would be 3 pounds 11 shillings and threepence.

Okay it sounds complicated but I'm told they had a chart to figure it out.

However, having said that, I can't imagine how magnificent it was talking with New Zealanders during the what we call LSD, the pound, shilling, and pence days.

They could calculate these things instantly.

It was just amazing.

So anyway that is why these coil stamps or counter coils took place.

The rarest of the two are the shilling and the eight penny and they're very very few of them around.

They just seem to have gotten tossed away and nobody bothered to collect them.

So it took me something like 25 years to get this full set.

So anyway.

I was asked earlier this evening, or this afternoon, about what is my favorite stamp from New Zealand? Well there are a lot that would qualify as a favorite but this one comes close.

If you take a look here at this design, it's a Maori woman and she's cooking and she is lowering a flax basket into thermal hot springs to cook the food, and on plate 1A, which had another stamp just to the left of this one and the corner down here, so this is the second stamp and that and the stamp above it both happen to have a double string because of a reentry on the plate and also on the shoulder a little bit of the Maori woman.

So, people all they had to do was a no-brainer you go into the post office and you ask for plate block of the plate 1A.

Immediately you get two copies of the reentry.

How easy could that be? Well then the problem turned around that they had to produce official stamps for use by the post office, for official purposes.

Well they didn't want to print brand new official stamps because that was too expensive.

So he said, well it's just over print the ones we have with the word, official.

So that was going to be done.

Well they went and they looked around and they found enough sheets of the penny and a half penny, ha'penny stamp, to be able to do it.

But there was one that was missing this plate block in the corner.

Guess why? Well anyway they said, well we can't go giving them a sheet that is incomplete.

So they went and they got the old tried and true thing that they've been doing now for about 70 years, a donor sheet to grab one from.

And guess what happened? They took a block from the middle of the side of the donor sheet, and it has this little vertical line there that shows where the sheet is split, they took that block and they patched it into place here on the bottom left hand corner where the plate number was.

And of course he couldn't have anything down there because there were more stamps underneath on the original.

So that would have been just fine and it would have been just another patch and replace.

However the problem was that the stamp on the top is the normal stamp here, the stamp on the bottom, if you look at the perforations going across you'll see that all of a sudden they come together in a hole and then all of a sudden they're different.

Well guess what? Wrong perfs.

They grabbed the wrong basic stamp as a donor sheet and patched four into place.

They made only four copies of this particular stamp.

It winds up being the rarest stamped a person can buy from 20th century New Zealand because the one that is rarer is in the Postal Museum down in Wellington and there's only one of those.

So this one was probably my finest acquisition.

I paid a huge sum for it, more than I paid at the time for a cover with the London print penny.

But, and I was offered double what I paid for it in order to sell the thing.

I didn't.

As you can see the gum on the top here is brown whereas the gum on the bottom is sort of whitish.

So that would be another clue that they're two different ones.

And then going on to this again back to the other one which is going forward actually, the collectible positions are this pair right here which is the one I have.

The one below it can't have anything that is a normal stamped attached to it because it was attached to the blank area, and the upper right-hand corner got separated from that when it was being, the block was being split up which was also too bad otherwise I probably would have bought it and then stuck it in as a an extra there.

The single down here has the pair to the right of it.

Those two have salvage but it doesn't which is sort of a strange-looking thing but it couldn't have the salvage again because the stamp would have been down there.

And then finally this one up here, the last time it was seen was a block of six with the bottom left-hand corner having perfs that sometimes match and sometimes don't match the hole.

So it's not really easy to see.

That's it for all of those.

So anyway, we have basically after this time air travel and the disruption of air travel which started around 1940, then the Second World War came in then it was restored gave the ability to restore some kind of sanity to the cycle of ordering and replacing paper and what have you from England and other supplies came through.

So they didn't have to do quite as much of the innovations that they did before and yet by doing those innovations they gave us something really rich and wonderful to be able to collect and keep us interested in how the world of philately goes around.

Thank you very much.


So I'd like to open it up for questions.

But I will come to you with the microphone when you put your hand up.

So does anybody have a question to start? Bob I collect the advertising on the back of New Zealand stamps.

I have never actually seen one before with the first series of advertising.

How scarce are they? They are quite scarce. I used to have a substantial holding of them and even some multiples but generally speaking there are a few people in the world who just collect those as well.

And there's a wonderful book that's written on the subject if you haven't seen it.

But they are quite quite a bit more difficult to find especially with the full gum undisturbed.

I was interested in the advertising also and in your talking about the innovation.

Can you give us some dates of when it began and when it ended? I would have to look for the exact date with us around 1894 to 1896 roughly.

Short period.

You know Miller, Trubridge and Reich were the advertisers who sold the advertising and they make the largest number of ads on there because they had to fill the space and there were other people who didn't do it.

There are other interesting ads like Beecham's Pills that remedied pretty much anything, sewing machines, all sorts of different things that might be of interest to people but it just never took off.

Would you comment about the condition collectors should expect for the classic issues of New Zealand? All right. I'd be happy to.

With the classic issues of New Zealand the Shaolin heads, unfortunately when they were making the original plates they put everything a lot closer together than they should and that was part of the reason I talked about the idea that they lost the concept of issuing them perforated.

On top of that, the penny stamps were slightly canted to the right, or left, whichever way you want. This way, on the sheet.

So if you did perforate straight down the sheet, one stamp at the top would be perforated on one side and then on the bottom it would be perforated on the other side or such.

It was not easy to get full perforations.

So the margins that were cut out with scissors generally could be fairly good.

But again when they were cut into the horizontal strips on the original four or five years they didn't pay much attention to anything except getting it roughly in the direction of the lines between the stamp margins, and as a result you wound up having ones that will very rarely have full margins, and very frequently, I would guess those have been retrieved by somebody who got hold of something a bit larger later on and was able to do that.

So for both the imperforate and the perforated to get really good substantial full margins on all four sides is a most unusual.

That's better than very fine in my estimation or at least very fine and more is going to get up there into that level.

Cut into is somewhat normal especially with perforated stamps.

Of all the perforated stamps I have, one percent, two percent, and I'm pretty choosy about the ones I get.

So I don't take the bad ones, really bad ones, would have really good perforations all around.

And along those same lines an interesting phenomenon comes up, people sometimes talk about imperf between or, stamps that were generally perforated but they were accidentally imperforate.

I have no problem with some of these, particularly the idea of trimming off the perfs and coming up with an imperf single.

If you had margins that were large enough to allow you to trim the perfs off on all four sides and still have margins that made an imperf looking stamp, I'd say you did damage to an extremely rare stamp because the one that had the perfs was far better than the one you created.

So quite frankly it is a tough thing and yet it's always a high standard to shoot for.

[Unintelligible question from audience.]

Cancellations are a different matter.

There are some that are very, very good.

The general pleasure of New Zealand collectors has been to collect one that doesn't have one that obliterates the face.

On the earliest issues, they almost always are pretty crisply struck fairly well on the entire stamp.

As long as they aren't really blurry and bad and so forth I'd say they're quite good reasonably speaking.

There are some cancellations that are particularly more difficult to find associated with say the Maori war stamps and things of that sort where they didn't have much use and when they did, very few examples survived.

So it's a study in its own right.

What can you tell us about, you know, New Zealand stamps possibly some overprinted for all these remote Pacific Islands appear to be quite a few of them and I wondered where they ever used on the Kermadec Islands.

As many other islands is there anything very unusual to doubt in all of this? Well New Zealand was a protectorate or, had dependencies that were on these other islands.

And they just again didn't want to make special stamps for those particular ones so they did overprint the names and Samoa, Penrhyn Islands, and so forth.

And they, believe it or not, have, they share the same situation as you see with these, where they have cut out and replaced, and other manner of trying to salvage pulled sheets and such.

I don't think they gave quite as much attention to pulling the bad ones as they did for their own.

And the post office people who were doing the work were also supposed to pull something if didn't look as it was good.

But obviously they didn't feel that terrible about these horribly mutilated ones, saying, hey, this is this is the way they gave it to me and this is the way it's meant to be, because otherwise why would they have gone to all that trouble to make the thing? So, yes, until the various dependencies were able to print their own stamps and decided to do it on their own, they were perfectly happy to supply the then current issues.

Were these invented perforations and stamps and all used in all parts of New Zealand or just in Otago? Oh no, no, no, no, the only one in Otago was the shelling bisect and, well, perf 13.

Some of the perf 13 did get out to other places from people who were leaving there and had the perforated stamps with them.

So those were the only two that you could say were pretty much unique or concentrated in Otago.

And it was mainly because of the gold rush.

It was the most highly populated area and had the highest amount of mail by, I think, 5 to 1 over Auckland even, when the gold rush happened.

No surprise there.

But all the stamps. It's a small country, very small country.

It's about the same size, if you will, of taking California, Oregon, and Washington, turning them upside down, shifting it a half a year, in time or a time of the seasons, and then chopped the one half, the central half, off of the US.

So you're never more than about 60 miles from water anywhere you are on all of New Zealand.

I was in New Zealand a couple of years ago and tried to find classic New Zealand stamps among dealers.

They were not there.

I'm wondering if you can estimate, perhaps, how much of this kind of material is still in New Zealand vs spread around the world.

That's probably a hefty guess.

There have been some major collections of New Zealand Shaolins and mine being one of them that still intact or largely intact.

So I am sort of being a dog in a manger sitting on these things.

I should probably start selling off some of them and I never missed 90% of what I could sell.

New Zealand dealers have the material but they generally get what I would consider to be the tradable material on the on the market.

Very seldom do they get material that looks like and is of a higher quality unless they have a major collection that comes their way.

Now when Joseph Hack made sales so came up a large amount of material flooded out and some of that was recycled in New Zealand auctions because it was bought at such a good price that the person figured, okay, I'm just going to flip this and make a nice profit on the whole turn.

So good ones do appear on occasion.

But just walking into a stamp dealer, I'd say they're only three or four dealers who would be likely to have much of anything at any given time.

And it's just hit or miss, depending on what they have.

Usually they will have good clients that they will send the stuff out to right away.

So it just goes into that cubby hole and doesn't come out until the net person sells for some reason or another.

How did you first become interested in New Zealand as a collecting area? And then, how did you go about educating yourself? Good question, and I don't know, how much time do we have? Okay, when I was five, my older brother was seven and he started collecting stamps with some of his friends.

Anything he did, I had to do too.

He was bigger than I was, so I got beat up any time I had something that he wanted.

So, we were both collecting US and we were happy and fortunate enough to have aunts and uncles who would send us stuff because, hey we've got a collector in the family.

And they would send us things like 1869 pictorials from the US and such that they had as excess from their collections.

Guess who got first choice, and guess who got lumps? So Charlie was going to collect New Zealand, or was going to collect US.

We both had US and we both had worldwide.

And I had, at the age of six, gone up to Charlottesville, Virginia and to a dealer right next to the railroad tracks, paid two dollars of good hard cash for one New Zealand stamp which was a 1935 pictorial three shillings stamp.

Written on the back in soft pencil was two dollars.

The catalog value in Scott's at that time was two dollars.

It was off center.

So here is a guy taking advantage of a five-year-old kid, selling him at full catalog value a stamp that was off center.

And it was adding insult to injury years later when I found it wasn't the single water market was the multiple watermark and the value that was only down to a dollar seventy-five catalog value.

Made me very upset.

But, by switching to New Zealand, I talked when I was seven years old to a real old-timer and he said, if you ever want to be a success in stamp collecting you have to pick a country you like, learn everything you can about it, get everything he can from it, and in short become an expert.

I figured with this much capital tied up in New Zealand I was committed for life.

So, I started working on New Zealand.

I completed my 1935 pictorials and started working my way back towards the front of the book.

By the early 1950s, I was living in the New York area and I managed to buy a my first Shaolin head.

I used to go on Nassau Street and I would walk from Wall Street and go up Nassau Street I never got all the way up to Fulton.

I usually wound up in one building and with Sophie Buser, Ed and Sophie Buser, and some of the old people and wound up just spending the entire day there and had a wonderful time.

Well because all of this was going into New Zealand I figured hey there could be worse places.

And each step that I took, I got books that told me more.

There was a catalog put out by a company called Pimm's and every now and then the catalog would come out.

Well the fellow who actually put the catalog together for them was a guy named Campbell Patterson.

And then he founded his own company, which is still in business, and he died a few years ago.

And he was a very close friend. And his son is running it now.

But that catalog is loose leaf and it is probably one of the finest specialized catalogs in the world of any country.

And not only is it a catalog issue but it also buys and sells and those are the prices you pay for the material, allowing for condition of course.

So it's just each level that I went up.

For instance, the Pimm's catalog, I would go into one of these dealers.

They'd have stock books full of these stamps with the different perforations.

I'd look through and I'd find mixed perfs and compound perfs, and I would walk out of there happy as can be, feeling very, very guilty.

One day I said to the dealer, I had spent the whole day at his place looking through these things and I said, I feel guilty.

He says, why? I said, well I just got ten stamps and I paid a dollar for them and you know how much these are worth? He said, son, he says, I don't care. He says, you're paying me a profit over what I paid for them.

He says, you're having fun. I'm having fun watching you having fun. You're getting a deal.

You're gonna go tell your friends to come up here and buy some more.

He says, we're both winning. How can we possibly have any worry? He says, besides, if I put all the time into it looking at that I could never do anything to my stock because I might find one item and it might be the rarity but it's damaged so badly that I can't sell it.

So he was perfectly happy to let me do that.

And I thought I've lived with that particular image for a long, long time and I think it very fit.

That was a great ending. Thank you, Bob.

About Robert Odenweller

Robert Odenweller

Robert Odenweller is a researcher, writer, and mentor. His research has produced the seminal works The Postage Stamps of New Zealand: 1855-1873 The Chalon Head Issues, and The Stamps and Postal History of Nineteenth Century Samoa. In addition, he has written many exceptional articles and his exhibits have won the APS Champion of Champions and the FIP Grand Prix d’Honneur. He edits Collectors Club Philatelist for the Collectors Club (New York). Odenweller’s service to philately is extensive. He served as president of FIP Commission for Traditional Philately for eighteen years, as director on the APS Board for nine years, as governor on the Board of the Collectors Club New York for forty years, on the Board of Trustees of Philatelic Foundation for twenty years. In addition he serves as an expert for the Philatelic Foundation and the American Philatelic Society. He served as director of the International Association of Philatelic Experts for thirty years and is currently its vice president, as overseas representative for Royal Philatelic Society London for twenty years, and has been a member of the National Postal Museum Council of Philatelists for four years. Odenweller has signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists and was awarded the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award, the Alfred F. Lichtenstein Memorial Award, the APS Luff Award, and the FIP Medal for Service. He holds honorary fellowship in the Royal Philatelic Society London and the Royal Philatelic Society New Zealand. He has earned the FIP Medal for Research, the Royal Philatelic Society London Crawford Medal, the Royal Philatelic Society New Zealand Collins Award. He is a Distinguished Philatelist of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society.