The 1931 red and blue smiling boys are the best known and rarest of all the
health stamp issues. The stamps feature a smiling boy with a New Zealand
lake and mountain landscape in the background. The four stars of the
Southern Cross constellation appear to the left of the Anti Tuberculosis
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Originally intended as the design for the 1930 health
stamps, the issue was beset by problems from the beginning. The 1d plates
were prepared in London by the Royal Mint. When they arrived in New
Zealand it was discovered that the vertical spacing between stamps did not
allow sufficient clearance for the comb perforation machine. The plates
were cut and metal spacers were inserted but the end result was stamps
that were quite often poorly spaced.
In June 1931 postal rates were
doubled. Letters increased from 1d to 2d and commercial postage from ½d to
1d. In light of this, it was decided to issue two health stamps and W.R.
Bock was commissioned to produce a new 2d plate from the
The set was issued at the height of the world-wide
financial depression and sales were small. In all around 75,000 of the red
boy and 112,000 of the blue boy were sold. However, the blue boy is harder
to find mint.
This page was last updated on 17 Jan 2018
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