The New Zealand Government Life Insurance Department was set up in 1869. It originally used franking for it's posted matter, but after a dispute over costs, the New Zealand Government authorised a special set of stamps to be produced for use by the Department. These were issued on 2nd January 1891. The six stamps as shown above, featured a lighthouse design, as did all future Government Life issues. The letters V R are in the background of these early stamps, which were designed by W B Hudson and J F Rogers, engraved by A E Cousins. Printed by the Government Printing Office, Wellington, stamps were 22mm x 20mm, 240 stamps per sheet, in 4 panes of 60 using Typography Surface printing on De La Rue or Cowan paper, both with a NZ and star watermark.
In 1905 there was need for further Government Life stamps, and also for new printing plates, so the opportunity was taken to remove the 'V R' from the original stamp design. The rays of the lantern were widened and a window added to the tower, which was also reduced in height. Extra ornamentation was also added to the bottom of the design, as seen below. Printings of this new version of the stamps, below, continued through until the 1940s.
The designs were by W B Hudson of the Life Insurance Department, and J F Rogers of the Government Printing Office.
The 2d Brown-red was issued in December 1905
The 1d Blue was issued early 1906
The 1/2d (halfpenny) Green was issued 2 January 1913
The 1d Red was issued on 2 January 1913
The 2d Purple was issued 2 January 1913
The 3d Yellow-brown was issued 2 January 1913
The 6d Pink was issued 2 January 1913
The 1 1/2d (Penny halfpenny, one and a half pence) Black was issued in 1917
The 1 1/2d Brown was issued in 1919
The 2d Yellow was issued in 1920
The 3d Chocolate was issued in 1931
Government Life Insurance Department stamps were originally intended for the Departments mail delivered only within New Zealand, but in 1969 this was extended to allow Department mail to be posted to overseas addresses. Government Life stamps were withdrawn from use in 1989.
Stamps were of Size 20mm x 24mm, 120 stamps per sheet.
Printed by the Government Printing Office, New Zealand
Surface printed - Typography, on various papers, with single or multiple NZ and star watermark. Various perforations.
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