Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spotlight - New Zealand Penny Universal Page

New Zealand Penny Universal

On January 1, 1901, the first day of the 20th century, New Zealand began offering 1 penny postage to almost everywhere in the world. As such, they were one of the first countries to have a universal rate to overseas locations. Not every country acknowledged the penny postage, as close neighbor Australia threatened to return any mail to them posted with just the penny stamp, but many countries did.

New Zealand issued a new stamp just for the occasion. It featured "Zealandia", an iconic figure representing New Zealand, in front of a globe, with a mailboat in the background. This stamp, nicknamed the Penny Universal, was printed from 1901 until 1908, when a revised version was issued.

Mr. R. J. Runciman has created an extensive site detailing New Zealand's Penny Universal stamp. His site shows in great detail all aspects of collecting this stamp.

From the opening page, with its large depiction of the Penny Universal, you are taken to a page showing major printing varieties, including different printing plates and paper variations. Two options exist for watermark variations and other uses of the Penny Universal, such as for Official stamps, or overprinted for nearby islands.

From each of these 15 portals, you go to other pages that identify perforation changes, color variations, plate flaws, plate wear, and a variety of details that the experienced collector will find refreshing. I'm sure I didn't visit them all, but there seem to be hundreds of examples of the stamp on the site.

One of the most fascinating features of this website is the extensive flowchart that helps to define every variation listed on the site. With a series of simple questions, such as "Booklet?" or "Thick or Thin Paper?" one could quickly determine which Penny Universal stamp they are examining. The only negative that I saw was that the flow chart has links in it to detailed pages, but that they are not compatible with the FireFox browser. This is not such a big deal, as the author includes an Adobe PDF document, so you can even study this stamp without a computer.

It is obvious that Mr. Runciman loves to collect and study this stamp. He has created an excellent site that will help to educate both the beginning and the advanced collector.

You can visit his site at:

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