The original intention for the Christmas 1964 stamp issue was to continue the theme of nativity paintings. However, as the sesquicentenary of the first Christmas service held in New Zealand fell in 1964 it was decided that the stamp design should be an artist's impression of the actual service.
In spite of strenuous efforts to locate a painting of the event, searches failed to produce a suitable design. Consequently L C Mitchell was asked to provide an original design from written descriptions of the ceremony.
A change in postal rates on the 1st October 1964 caused some concern in that the 2 1/2d Christmas card rate was changed to 3d. The question of overprinting was considered but, in view of the extremely fine nature of the design it was decided not to spoil the stamp but to allow the public to post unsealed envelopes containing Chrstmas cards and bearing the 2 1/2d Christmas stamps to New Zealand addresses as a gesture of goodwill. Christmas cards for overseas were required to bear the full 3d postage.
Colour registration in this issue was generally poor and a great number of stamps had a rather blurred appearance.
This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 32 on 25 September 1964.
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: http://www.nzsgb.org.uk/
Product Listing for Christmas 1964
Click on image to enlarge.
Single 2 1/2d 'First Christian service' gummed stamp.
The reverend Samuel Marsden taking the first religious service in New Zealand at Rangihoua Bay, Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814.
|Date of issue:||12 October 1964|
|Designers:||L C Mitchell, Wellington|
|Printers:||Harrison and Sons, England|
|Stamp size:||43mm x 33mm|
|Sheet size:||60 stamps per sheet|
|Perforation gauge:||14.25 x 13.75|
|Paper type:||Chalk surfaced, multiple NZ and star watermark|
|Period of sale:||This stamp was withdrawn from sale from all post offices on 7 January 1965.|