Historic Farm Equipment

Ever since the invention of the wheel, machinery has transformed the lives and livelihoods of people and industries around the world. Farmers have been major participants in this innovation – using the power of technology to become more efficient and productive in harvesting the products of the land.

Issue information

Agricultural economies the world over have been transformed with the advent of new technology - from the basic wheel to the sophisticated machinery that today turns products of the land into commercial commodities.

New Zealand is no exception. One hundred years ago, a Christchurch-based company imported the country's first farm tractor: an American Kinnard Haines Flour City machine, capable of speeds up to five miles per hour. However, the new-fangled contraption was initially treated with some suspicion, with many farmers remaining unconverted until Henry Ford's mass-produced and more affordable Fordson arrived on the scene in 1918.

Since then our agriculture industry has continued to invent and adopt increasingly advanced machinery - a characteristic we celebrated with our Historic Farm Equipment stamp issue which marked a centenary since the arrival of the tractor to New Zealand – an event that signalled a permanent change to our landscape and our place in the global agricultural industry.

The five stamps in this issue each depicted a farm equipment icon against stylish renditions of our rural landscape, a reminder of New Zealand's foundations as an agricultural nation.

Generations of Change

The Historic Farm Equipment first day cover remembered times past with its image of a threshing mill and tractor, being aided by draught horses.

Machines and their Makers

A souvenir miniature sheet booklet told us more about the stamps, the machines and the story of their introduction to New Zealand. It included six miniature sheets, five incorporating one stamp and one incorporating the complete set of five stamps.

Product Listing for Historic Farm Equipment

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 45c 'Kinnard Haines Tractor' gummed stamp.

The first farm tractor imported to New Zealand, the 12-horsepower ‘Kinnard Haines Flour City’ was capable of speeds up to five miles an hour. Its arrival in 1904 was heralded at a demonstration by Christchurch firm Booth Macdonald & Co.

$0.45
Single Stamp

Single 90c 'Fordson F Tractor with Plough' gummed stamp.

The ‘Fordson’ was the first mass-produced farm tractor – and the first available at an affordable price for many farmers. Produced by the assembly-line giant Henry Ford, it played a key role in converting farmers to tractors instead of horses.

$0.90
Single Stamp

Single $1.35 'Burrell Traction Engine' gummed stamp.

With the end of the 19th century came the era of steam, with traction engines such as the Burrell proving popular with contractors in large growing areas such as Canterbury and Southland.

$1.35
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Threshing Mill' gummed stamp.

Threshing machines were used in New Zealand for more than 100 years, finally declining in use in the mid-1940s. Forerunners of the combine harvesters, they were used to separate grain from plants such as corn and oats.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Duncan’s Seed Drill' gummed stamp.

P & D Duncan has a long history in agricultural implement manufacture. Established in 1866, the name still features on farm machinery today. Indeed the seed drill, introduced in 1884, is still manufactured to the same principles of design.

$2.00
Miniature Sheet Booklet Collectable booklet containing a range of miniature sheets and further information on the stamp issue. $19.95
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.70

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 April 2004
Number of stamps: Five
Denominations and designs: 45c Kinnard Haines Tractor, 90c Fordson F Tractor with Plough, $1.35 Burrell Traction Engine, $1.50 Threshing Mill, $2.00 Duncan's Seed Drill
Stamps designed by: Ross Jones, Watermark, Wellington
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Dunedin, by offset lithography
Miniature sheet booklet printer: Wyatt & Wilson Print, Christchurch
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: Sheet stamps: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal); Miniature sheet booklet stamps: 42.27mm x 30.23mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Sheet stamps: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor; Miniature sheet booklet stamp sheets: Chancellor Litho
Number of stamps per sheet: 50
Perforation gauge: Sheet stamps: 14; Miniature sheet booklet stamps: 13.25
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B format.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 4 April 2005.