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1983 Health

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Three popular breeds of cat featured on the 1983 Health Stamp Issue. These stamps continued the domestic animal theme from 1982 and the designs featured a Tabby, a Siamese and a Persian cat.

Issue information

Cats have been kept as pets all over the world for many centuries, but there were no cats in New Zealand before the arrival of Europeans. Since then the furry felines have made up for lost time and have firmly established themselves as a very popular pet with hundreds of owners proudly displaying them at shows held by cat clubs up and down the country. While there are over 50 breeds of cat, for show purposes, they are divided into three main classes - short hair British, short hair foreign, and long hair. 

The Tabby cat was illustrated on one of the 24c + 2c stamp. The name Tabby was probably derived from a type of silk, also called tabby, that was originally from Baghdad. In England the breed was once known as the Cyprus cat, suggesting some link with the trade route through the Mediterranean, and Tabby's have also been known as Tiger cats. Pedigree Tabby's must conform to a carefully laid down pattern of stripes and bars which are not always possessed by ordinary domestic pets. A well-marked Tabby will also usually have a cleary defined 'spectacles' pattern around the eyes, and on the forehead a characteristic 'M' which according to legend commemorates the prophet Mohammed.

The Siamese is shown on the other 24c + 2c stamp. There are many legends about the origins of the various breeds of Siamese cats. They are native to Thailand (Siam) and development of the Siamese breed has long been attributed to the Kings of Siam. When the first standard was established in 1902 Siamese cats were described as "in every particular the reverse of the ideal short-haired cat". They are particularly admired for their svelte apperance, but it is not only their looks that made the Siamese one of the most popular of the pedigree breeds. They have a character all of their own, are particularly intelligent and become very attached to their owners, demanding attention all of the time.

The Persian cat features on the 30c + 2c stamp. Long-haired cats were unknown in Europe until 1620 when the first Persian was imported from Iran into Italy. The long hair of domestic breeds is not known in wild members of the cat family. Blue Persians have been considered by many to be the King of cats and they have often been used to improve the colour and type of other long-haired breeds. Queen Victoria owned two Blue Persians and helped to set the seal of approval on pedigree cat breeding by her interest and support.

The first day cover featured the two x 24 + 2c pairs and the single 30c + 2c stamps. The miniature sheet featured four x 24c + 2c stamps and two 30c + 2c stamps and the proceeds of the health value of health stamps were donated to the Children's Health Camps movement.

Stamp Bulletin

This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 29 in April 1983.

Acknowledgments: Bulletin scanned and provided by John Biddlecombe of the New Zealand Society of Great Britain. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link:

Product Listing for 1983 Health

Image Title Description Price
  Pair of Single Stamps Pair of 24c + 2c 'Tabby - Short Hair British and Siamese - Short Hair Foreign' gummed stamps. $0.52
  Single Stamp Single 30c + 2c 'Persian Long Hair' gummed stamp $0.32
  Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $1.68
  First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $0.91

Technical information

Date of issue: 3 August 1983
Number of stamps: Three gummed stamps
Denominations: 24c + 2c pair, 35c
Stamps and first day cover R M Conly, Waikanae
Printers: Harrison and Sons, England by lithography
Stamp size and format: Stamps: 24mm x 42mm (vertical); Miniature sheet: Six stamps printed se-tenant 100mm x 126mm
Paper type: Harrison and Sons, unwatermarked
Number of stamps per sheet:  100 
Perforation gauge: 14.25 
Special blocks: Plate/imprint, positional or value blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least 6 stamps of each denomination
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 30 June 1984. First day covers remained on sale until 12 August 1983.
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