In 1850, New Zealand was a frontier colony with only a small European
population. However, in line with other countries and after five years of
planning by the New Zealand Government, a system for prepayment of postage
on correspondence was introduced with the issue of the first imperforated
stamps (prepayment of postage dues was not made compulsory until
Their design was based on a full face portrait of Queen
Victoria in her state robes at the time of her coronation in 1837, by
Alfred Edward Chalon. Hence these stamps are often called the "Full
Face Queens" or "Chalon Heads".
The issue initially
contained only three stamps - the penny, twopence and one shilling stamps.
They were designed from a watercolour sketch of the original portrait by
Edward Henry Corbould, engraved from this reference by William Humphrys and
initially printed in London by Perkins, Bacon & Co. This initial printing
along with the plates were then shipped to New Zealand.
did not try to anticipate demand and by 1859 there was still a surplus of
the initial shipment of one shilling stamps - so much so that the
postmaster in Otago took to cutting the stamps in half to fill the sixpence
postage rate. There was, however, substantial demand for the twopence stamp
used for mail within New Zealand, and the one penny stamp - a special
discounted postage rate for servicemen - is almost always seen used in
These stamps were first issued around the 18th to 20th of
July 1855. All subsequent stamps were printed in New Zealand with the
sixpence stamp introduced in 1859 to cover postage to the United Kingdom
via Southampton. These were printed from plates engraved in London and
shipped to New Zealand.
In 1862, a threepence stamp was
introduced for ninepence accelerated postage to the United Kingdom via
From their introduction in 1855, the stamps were hand
cut using scissors by Post Office employees at the counter. Around 1862,
the stamps started being fed through automatic perforation machines. The
perforated varieties are listed separately under 1862 Full Face
Queen Victoria - Chalon - Perforated
The penny and sixpence
varieties listed here are the result of printing variations. There are also
varieties on different papers which are too specialist for this catalogue.
A simplified collection of this issue would include 1a
Note: The stamps shown above are from the 1950 printings that were
published in Volume II of The Postage Stamps of New Zealand by The Royal
Philatelic Society of New Zealand. The printings were from the original
dies (which were subsequently destroyed) and the image quality is
superior to even the best examples of the original stamps which were
printed from plates created from the dies. The stamps were printed in
authentic but incorrect colours for each denomination to avoid them being
confused with legitimate stamps.