Stamp collectors' obsessions on display in Taranaki

Kirsten Craig and father Alan Craig travelled from Hamilton to sell stamps and covers.
BRITTANY BAKER/STUFF

Kirsten Craig and father Alan Craig travelled from Hamilton to sell stamps and covers.

It may be the size of a gold coin but it's worth $40,000 - and it's a stamp.

The penny claret from the 1906 Christchurch Exhibition is so rare, it's market value jumps to $50,000 if it had been used, philatelic dealer Warwick Jost said.

"It's probably the dearest stamp in New Zealand," the Katikati man said. "I've seen one but I've never had one in my collection."

​This issue was the first set of large stamps to be designed, engraved and printed entirely within the country and the stamps were only on sale at the post office in the exhibit at that time.

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But the penny claret stamp was particularly special.

A penny black stamp on a cover with a market price of £600 (NZ$1059) had a price tag of $250 at Alan Craig's booth.
BRITTANY BAKER/STUFF

A penny black stamp on a cover with a market price of £600 (NZ$1059) had a price tag of $250 at Alan Craig's booth.

Exhibition organisers were unhappy with the red colouring and had them reprinted, destroying the original stamp except for one sheet that went to the Postmaster-General, one to exhibition organisers, and 14 that were retained by the Post and Telegraph department.

Jost said while several mint stamps were in circulation, the used copies had been cancelled just days after the exhibition post office closed - thus the used stamp's extraordinary value.

While no one at the Taranaki Philatelic Society's annual stamp fair had a penny claret, there were collectibles worth thousands floating around the Blind Foundation at Vivian St on Saturday.

Warwick Jost was downsizing his collection of stamps at the annual Taranaki Philatelic Society stamp fair.
BRITTANY BAKER/STUFF

Warwick Jost was downsizing his collection of stamps at the annual Taranaki Philatelic Society stamp fair.

Jost, who had been collecting stamps since he was a young boy, sat at a booth offering about $100,000 worth of stamps for sale.

"I just have the general stuff," he said.

"I'm a collector but I have too much and I'm focusing on down-sizing now.

Stamp hobbyist Phil Bates scours through the thousands of stamps on sale.
BRITTANY BAKER/STUFF

Stamp hobbyist Phil Bates scours through the thousands of stamps on sale.

"It just becomes an obsession. You see a stamp and you think, 'oh I got to have it'."

Stamp collector Phil Bates hovered nearby. In his hands were a number of New Zealand stamps dating back decades.

"I like the older ones," he said.

Alan Craig said stamp collection is a dying hobby.
BRITTANY BAKER/STUFF

Alan Craig said stamp collection is a dying hobby.

Next to Jost's booth sat father and daughter Alan and Kirsten Craig.

The pair had come from Hamilton for the single day event, though the fair would continue to travel south for a few more days.

"Last year was our first year," Kirsten said.

"My dad's retired and I come along to help out."

Alan grabbed a shoebox-sized gold container with about $50,000 worth of stamps and shuffled through some of the most valuable items.

In it was a 10-cent coin-sized purple stamp from 1926 valued at $10,000, but with a $5500 price tag.

"Because that's the real world," Alan said about making a sale.

"It's a dying hobby, so you have to be realistic."

 - Stuff

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