New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

King George V - Admirals

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In 1924 it was considered that the demand for 2s and 3s stamps was such that two new stamps were required to replace the Duty stamps that had been in use up to that time.

Issue information

On 1 July 1924 Cabinet approved the issue. Prior Governor-General Viscount Jellicoe had been the commander of the British fleet at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and so it was decided that the two and three shilling stamps would feature a portrait of King George V as Admiral of the Fleet. However, General Sir Charles Fergusson had succeeded Viscount Jellicoe as Governor-General and as he was a distinguished soldier and so the penny stamp depicts King George V in the uniform of a Field Marshall.

The design contained a side-face portrait of King George V, with the cocked hat and epaulettes of an admiral, and the naval motif was further supported by the wavy lines of the background, which the artist stated were intended to represent the waves of the sea.

The first printing was placed on sale on 12th July 1926, and the issue was severely criticised, both because of the design and of the production. The Victorian Philatelic Record described the stamps as "Extraordinary productions of the jam label type, showing a portrait of a naval cocked hat of enormous size with a small profile of the King underneath it. The lower portion of the picture is taken up by a magnificent epaulette." Stamp Collecting asserted that "This design is the most hideous and poorly produced Colonial stamp we have received for many years."

The criticism was so widespread that the matter was discussed in the House of Representatives and the Postmaster General, in his reply, intimated that the authorities admitted that the stamps were not satisfactory and that efforts were being made to effect an improvement.

The dies were engraved by Waterlow and Sons, London.  The initial print run on Jone's stamp paper was poorly received, but subsequent printings on Cowan paper achieved better results.


New Zealand Post would like to acknowledge the following for their assistance and guidance in bringing together this stamp issue:

Historical information included on this page sourced from The Postage Stamps of New Zealand published by the Royal Philatelic Society of NZ. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link:

Product Listing for King George V - Admirals

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Image Title  Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 1d 'Red' gummed stamp.

George V as Field Marshall.

Single Stamp

Single 2s 'Blue' gummed stamp.

George V as Admiral of the Fleet.

Single Stamp

Single 3s 'Purple' gummed stamp.

George V as Admiral of the Fleet.


Technical information

Date of issue: 12 July 1926
Designers: H Linley Richardson, Wellington
Printers: Government Printing Office, New Zealand
Stamp size: 25mm x 28mm
Sheet size: 80 Stamps per sheet
Process: Surface printed - Typography
Perforation gauge: 14
Paper type: Initially printed on Jones, chalk surfaced, NZ and star watermark; Subsequent printings on Cowan chalk surfaced, NZ and star watermark
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until May 1935.