New Zealands 1898 Pictorials The Lewis Essays

August 17, 2023

Before New Zealand’s 1898 Pictorial issue only a handful of the British colonies had embarked on anything similar, perhaps most notably Newfoundland and North Borneo, and certainly not stuffy old Britain!

The financial benefits to be gained in issuing attractive stamps depicting scenes from the country of origin are now well- appreciated but at the end of the 19th Century only a few enthusiasts around the world were petitioning their Head Postmasters and Members of Parliament with this novel new approach.

One such man, a Mr C. Lewis of Halswell, Canterbury, who at various times had been the Member of Parliament for both the City of Christchurch and also for Courtney submitted a rather splendid proof design showing the words “NEW ZEALAND” above a portrait of a young Queen Victoria itself set above an image of a steam ship under her auxiliary sails. Further details include the value “5” and a touch of shameless promotion (not unusual on stamp design essays) reading “The Lewis Engraving Process”.

These essays are very rare and occupy a significant position in the history of the 1898 Pictorial issue. A tiny group of these essays were discovered a few years ago, it is likely that just one or two sheets of each colour exist intact and they have rightly changed hands for significant prices.

In 2015 we were delighted to have two complete sheets of ten and a block of four.

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