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Thinking Outside the Square

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Home to some of the most resourceful minds, New Zealand is a nation full of thinkers and makers who love to push the envelope. For starters, there’s the jetboat, electric fence, and bungy jumping. We’re well known for our ‘number 8 wire’ mentality, given we’ve used it to repair just about everything imaginable. This stamp issue celebrated some of these nifty ideas that are truly 'outside the square'.

Issue information

When it comes to ingenuity and thinking outside the square, Kiwis win hands down. In fact, we’re world-famous for it! Backyard inventors, dreaming up widgets and gadgets, and all manner of things made from ‘number 8 wire’. Stuff that people didn’t know they needed until they saw or used it. That’s what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Here are just a few of the cool creations New Zealanders have come up with.

First Day Cover Set

This first day cover set features all twelve Thinking Outside the Square stamps – celebrating just a few of the numerous and nifty Kiwi inventions that push the envelope.

Product Listing for Thinking Outside the Square


Image Title Description Price

Mint used or cancelled sheet of 12 gummed stamps.

The individual stamps in this issue were:

Single $1.20 'Ref's Whistle' gummed stamp.

In 1884, 24-year-old Cantabrian referee William Harrington Atack was the first to realise he could save his voice by putting his dog whistle to good use on the rugby field.

Single $1.20 'Instant Coffee' gummed stamp.

Invercargill merchant David Strang became the first person to create and sell commercial instant coffee when he patented his ‘Dry Hot-Air’ process in 1890.

Single $1.20 'The Jogging Movement' gummed stamp.

Kiwi runner and athletics coach Arthur Lydiard (1917-2004) popularised jogging as a way to get fit by building stamina bit by bit.

Single $1.20 'Robust Brollies' gummed stamp.

Designed to withstand winds of up to 117kmph, Greig Brebner's high-tension canopy Blunt umbrellas are named for their rounded, injury averting edges.

Single $1.20 'Log Splitters' gummed stamp.

Originally designed by 13-year-old Ayla Hutchinson for a 2012 school science-fair project, the Kindling Cracker is used to safely split wood, without losing a finger.

Single $1.20 'Automatic Chicken Feeders' gummed stamp.

Frustrated with pests eating his chicken feed, retired dairy farmer Bill Kirkham designed Grandpas Feeders to quite simply open and close when chooks step on and off the clever stainless-steel contraptions.

Single $1.20 'Self-resetting Traps' gummed stamp.

Goodnature co-founders and industrial-design graduates Stu Barr, Robbie van Dam and Craig Bond's re-setting traps get rid of rats, stoats, possums, mice, and other pests who prey on native wildlife.

Single $1.20 'Land Yachting' gummed stamp.

In 1999, New Zealand hang-gliding and land-sailing enthusiast Paul Beckett tinkered in his Papamoa garage until he had a prototype for the Blokart - a fast wind-powered land yacht that kicked off a now international competitive sport.

Single $1.20 'Retractable Boat Wheels' gummed stamp.

Primarily, this is a boat you can easily launch and retrieve. Auckland electrical engineer Maurice Bryham originally designed the prototype for Sealegs Amphibious Craft with wood and Lego.

Single $1.20 '3-stage Bikes' gummed stamp.

Rich Latham built the first prototype of ’the world’s first recycled children’s bike’ in his bathroom. Designed to save on waste and cost, Wishbone Bikes transform from trike, to little bike, to big bike.

Single $1.20 'Kid-proof Caps' gummed stamp.

After moving to New Zealand in the 1960s, Italian expat Claudio Petronelli designed a palm-and-turn prototype cap in metal and patented a plastic design in 1969 that is still used today.

Single $1.20 'LifePod Incubators' gummed stamp.

The Mondiale ‘LifePod’ incubator was designed by inventor and scientist Sir Ray Avery for developing countries where millions of babies die each year due to lack of neonatal care. One incubator can save at least 500 lives by providing newborns with a safe, sterile, temperate environment. 

Set of First Day Covers Set of two first day covers with 12 gummed stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $15.40

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 September 2018
Number of stamps: 12 gummed stamps
Denominations: 12 x $1.20
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: EightyOne, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd, New Zealand by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 37.5mm x 36.95mm (vertical)
Sheet size: 192mm x 192mm
Paper type:  Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet:  12
Perforation gauge: 14.4 x 14.615
Special blocks: Plate/imprint, barcode, logo and value blocks could only be obtained by purchasing a full sheet of stamps.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 4 September 2020. First day covers remained on sale until 31 October 2018.
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