Penny Universal

Prior to 1901 the cost of sending a letter to the United Kingdom was fixed at 2 1/2d per 1/2 oz and the rate of inland letters within New Zealand set at 2d. On 1 January 1901 Universal Penny Postage was introduced with the price for inland and overseas letters both being reduced to 1d. Reciprocal recognition of penny post throughout the British Empire, with the exception of Australia, was secured by the Government and although few foreign countries had been able to adopt a reciprocal penny rate, a large number agreed to deliver penny letters from New Zealand without any surcharge.

Issue information

There was some concern at the time in Government circles that there would be a substantial fall in Post Office revenue, however postal volumes increased and by 1902 any losses had been more than made up.

As well as being supplied in sheets of 240 stamps, booklets of stamps were also produced in addition to special coils for an experimental 'slot' stamp vending machine trialled at the General Post Office in Wellington.  These were the first such experiments in the world.

An extra 1/2d was charged on every stamp booklet sold to recover the cost of manufacturing the product.

The stamp was in production through until 1908 when a revised surfaced-printed version was introduced.  The initial plate was manufactured by Waterlow & Sons, later plates were also produced by Royle & Sons and Waterlow Bros. & Layton.

Penny Universal - 1d
Female figure of 'Zealandia' representing New Zealand with a background image of a steamer (representing a mail boat) sailing past Mount Egmont (Taranaki).

Technical information

Date of Issue: 1 January 1901
Designers: Guido Bach
Printers: Waterlow and Sons, England and Government Printing Office, New Zealand
Stamp Size: 20mm x 24mm
Sheet Size: 240 stamps per sheet; Booklets of 12, 24 and 30 stamps in panes of six
Process: Recess printed - Intaglio
Perforation Gauge: Various combinations
Paper Type: Waterlow, unwatermarked and NZ and star watermark; Basted Mills, NZ and star watermark; Cowan, unwatermarked and NZ and star watermark