New Zealand Stamps - Chalon Heads


02 January 2023
The 'Chalon Head' New Zealand stamps served most of the country's postal needs from 1855 to 1874. So how much should you spend on examples of the stamps and what varieties are available? Find out in our guide to stamp values

The 'Chalon Head' design

New Zealand’s first postage stamps, issued in 1855, displayed a striking image of Queen Victoria.

The central design derived from an 1838 oil painting by Alfred Edward Chalon which displayed a full-length portrait of the monarch in her state robes at the time of her coronation in 1837.

A watercolour sketch of Victoria’s head and shoulders as displayed in the oil painting was later created by artist Edward Corbould; and from it Perkins Bacon’s engraver William Humphrys designed the stamp which was soon spoken of as the 'Chalon Head'.

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Some collectors, especially in New Zealand, call them 'Full Face Queens', acknowledging that on most stamps throughout the world profile portraits of monarchs and rulers were expected on postage stamps.

The intricately engraved background surrounding and framing the portrait was produced by a Perkins rose-engine, the same machine used almost two decades earlier to engrave the background for the Penny Black.

Acknowledged throughout the philatelic world as classics, Chalon Heads first went on sale in New Zealand in 1855, commencing a run of continuous use that was to last until 1874. 

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'Chalon Head' stamp values

Before buying, familiarise yourself with the prices paid below; talk to knowledgeable NZ Chalon Heads collectors; have a look at stamps for sale in trusted dealers’ stocks. Buy the best example you can comfortably afford, and enjoy adding it to your collection.

Australian Bayer stampman_dave, of Carlisle North, WA recently offered this c.1862 imperforate 1d orange, described as having a feint top thin, at US $50.42 with $3 shipping

eBayUK seller Worldstamps4U of Beverley, Humberside recently offered this 1872 2d Vermillion, described as mint no gum, at £40 BIN, plus 50p postage

eBayUK seller roostamp of Huntingdon, UK offered this 1857-63 6d pale brown, described as fine used, for £73 (buy it now)

Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions recently sold this 1866 envelope (flap missing) from NZ to Scotland bearing two perf 12½ 2d and a 6d, tied by barred ovals and small C/R.P.O.FD. The hammer price was £150

Empire Philatelists, Henley-on-Thames, recently had this 1859 6d bistre-brown, described as fine used, and selling for £195 with free shipping

Australian dealer shieldsstamps recently offered this NZ - GB, via Marseilles, scarce 10d rate Chalon imperforates cover, described as franked by 1862-3 2d Blue pair (margins almost all round) and 1862 6d black-brown (pelure paper), tied or cancelled by unclear barred ovals, with London (12 Mar) arrival cds alongside. The BIN price was AU $1,800, with AU $30 shipping.


Prices paid for… the £5 Orange

Stamp Values: stamps issued for the 1906-07 New Zealand Exhibition

Stamp Values: 1930 Mozambique