'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Sunday, 8 December 2013

New Zealand Christmas


I was rather disappointed to see this year's Christmas stamps. I think they're rather poor compositions, uninspired subject matter and ugly clashing colours.  Even the envelopes of the first-day covers have boring and badly rendered images.  Ho hum.

I've been collecting stamps since I was a kid, and although recently that's consisted of just buying the first day covers, I've a nice collection of Christmas stamps since oh ever so long ago.


Ok, I'll tell you how long I've been carrying out this rather archaic and very not cool pastime (people don't seem to have 'hobbies' these days, do they?).

This (below) was the first Christmas stamp I can remember.  It was also the first time New Zealand put out a Christmas stamp at all.  There was a lot of concern over whether it should be produced - it was even discussed in parliament.  In the end it was so popular that 20 million had to be printed!
(You should know that in 1960 the population of New Zealand was only just over 2.4 million.)

Another concern was if it would be considered proper to deface the religious symbol (the nativity scene) with a postmark.

Rembrandt's 'Adoration of the Shepherds'
1960 New Zealand Christmas Stamp
At that time, I looked like this.  That's Virginia-from-next-door standing behind, and my little sister Jane in the tray. Dad put blocks of wood on the pedals so I could reach them. I remember that dress. It was yellow.



We always sent and received lots of Christmas cards in those days. When the mantlepiece ran out of room, we'd hang them over loops of string in front of the fireplace, which of course was never lit, it being midsummer in New Zealand. On Boxing day everyone went to the beach with all the leftovers in sandwiches, and lots of strawberries and apples, and we'd play in the sea all day and come home with sunburn everywhere except where our togs were, and sand in our crotches. Happy days!


20 comments:

  1. Just thought I should mention that my sister did (and still does) have legs.

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  2. A very pleasant post to read."Sand in Our Crotches" sounds like a good title for a racy novel - or perhaps your autobiography?

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  3. Perhaps, YP. It's not very racy to actually have, so maybe the latter.

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  4. Love the way that Jane looks incredibly fat!

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  5. John - Jane would eat anything. The family's name for her was 'garbage bin'. Mum used to say 'If you tread on her toe the top of her head will fly up.'

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    1. Poor girl! She's probably still living that down !!!! Ha Ha ! Love it !

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    2. I hope she doesn't read this blog Helsie :-)
      Actually she's slim and gorgeous now. For many years she was plump and gorgeous!

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  6. That is an adorable photo!
    Now, about that 'uncool' hobby - you know that every time I go to a stamp or postcard show, it is packed with people. And with Postctrossing, I seem to be getting more and more young people when I request a new address (by young I mean 15-24), which actually surprises me.

    I am disappointed with these stamps. Usually, I think of AU and NZ Christmas stamps as being among the best.

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    1. Well, that's terrific about the interest in stamping and postcarding Sanna. Perhaps it will get popular down here too - like knitting has become. I never stopped doing either :-)

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  7. The stamps look like illustrations from the old Ladybird reading books. They certainly could have been more imaginative. (I have books FILLED with first day covers)

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    1. They do Cro! Ladybird books!

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  8. Stamp collecting has always seemed a curious hobby to me: educational possibly but curious. Ironically my father-in-law was an authority on New Zealand stamps and spent may hours explaining to me the intricacies of missing perforations and such esoteric matters.

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    1. Geeb - stamp collectors are possibly esoteric creatures. I just like them because they a small, detailed and (usually) pretty.

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  9. Great memories, Katherine. We used to do an extended family day at the beach on Boxing Day too when we lived near the coast. And I had a trike similar to yours that I would ride my sister around in.

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    1. Carol - Ah, those southern hemisphere Christmasses!

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  10. I am utterly astonished, these are the works of a poltroon. I have written directly to the office of the post office general to complain. I have recommended that you Katherine paint next years stamps - pah, what an outrage!

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    1. I'm glad you agree Alden. And glad too, to see you have your energy back. I am honoured you have put my name forward. I shall paint Godwits, perhaps? Metaphorically depicting the journey of the letters to other climes...

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    2. ... And also wrybills - metaphorically referencing the endangered-ness of the postal service.

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  11. On the other hand, Katherine, I really liked the stamp on your Christmas card, Orlando Bloom in full elvish regalia, including bow and arrow, from The Hobbit....

    There's nothing like a little governmental cashing in on the phenomenon that has brought many tourist dollars to your country..

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    1. Robert , I'm glad it arrived safely. Yes, that series IS rather nice, is it not? I thought you and Ellie would like it.

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