Timaru Local Post, 1968-69: Bicycle mail in New Zealand.

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Timaru Local Post, 1968-69: Bicycle mail in New Zealand.

Post by Panterra »

Since I have been in the stamp-publishing business for over 50 years, I should regale you with some of the earlies, rather than just the recent ones.

Here is the 1989 issue I was most proud of: the anniversary of my first "BIG" venture, the Timaru Bicycle Local Post.

Occussi-Ambeno 1989 21st anniversary of the Timaru Local Post, on First Day Cover.

The Timaru Bicycle Post was a forerunner of the many private postal operations which now proliferate in NZ. But back in 1968, going up against the state monopoly of the NZ Post Office was a dangerous venture!

The original 1968 issue comprised 7 stamps, including an imperf 15c gold printed on red-coloured card (which was used for mail when the normal 15c gold stamps ran low.)
Timaru Local Post 1968 Bike Local Post, set cancelled.

The top value, 15c, was done by thermography (or gold heat-embossing, a rather delicate process that I was becoming fascinated with).


"Who would have believed that all the cycling around (delivering mail) would ensure for the city of Timaru immortality in philately through being covered in the International Encyclopedia of Stamps, as well as being covered in Gibbons Stamp Monthly!"

-- from a reminiscence by one of the posties of the Timaru Local Post, cited on the website, sadly no longer extant.

And here is the report written on the service by Tony Ward, an Australian philatelist:

NZ Bicycle Posts

In 1968 Timaru was a small sleepy town in New Zealand’s South Island.

Bruce Henderson, an entrepreneurial 18 year old school boy, and junior stamp collector, enlisted the help of 2 school mates to start a local bicycle delivery.

The new service was called ‘Moulins Services’. There was popular support by local businesses as they allowed good savings for the local delivery of receipts and accounts. There were 5 collecting points ranging from shops to actual residences. Mail that was ‘posted’ before 3:30pm would be picked up after school and delivered later in the day by the boys. The deliveries were shared around among the boys, but at busy times the deliveries continued into the evening.

The delivery rates were:
1¢ - unsealed invoices and receipts
2¢ - sealed letters [Official PO rate of 3¢]
5¢ - small packets
15¢, 30¢ - larger packets
Registered mail was an additional 7¢.[Official PO rate of 18¢]

Stamps were issued. The first issues were 1¢ and 2¢.

As the service grew extra 3¢, 5¢, 7¢ and 15¢ values were printed. While there was no 3¢ rate this was to be used in multiples to make help make up other values in time of shortage.

The first printings of the 1¢, 3¢ and 7¢ were on orange paper. Later printings were on similar but lemon paper.

The 2¢, 5¢ and 15¢ were on red paper. All stamps had shiny gum, and were rouletted.

The printing was in black on the 1¢ and 2¢, and dark blue on the 5¢, while a blue-ish green on the 3¢. The 7¢ is in two colours: red printing [POSTES MOULINS] and black.

The 15¢ appeared with raised gold [embossed] printing on a dark red paper and on the standard gummed paper like the other values. Some proofs printed on thin red card and imperf were also used as stamps when supplies of the gummed stamps ran low. These vary in size.

The sheets were singly printed in two parts which gave tête-bêche pairs at the centre of the sheet. Like the half sheet printing by the Lunds Lokal Post of 1945.

The Moulins Service started on 2nd December 1968 and continued until 12th April 1969. Only 4 months over the school holiday period and summer. The early closing was the result of a David and Goliath like confrontation against the giant Post Office monopoly. In this case Goliath won! The school boys were threatened with huge personal fines per each letter carried and the Service closed immediately.

There are few actual used covers from the period. Perhaps the more label-like appearance than stamp appearance may account for this scarcity.

All letters were hand stamped with one of four cancellations. Bruce Henderson used the letters BRH within a circle with a date, Sandy Stewart used REC and Geoff Mills used SJY. Another combination sometimes used was ANS which was in the office and could be likened to “paquebot” or “loose-letter” mail.

Unaddressed special cancelled to order [CTO] covers do exist.

The tropical coloured covers exist inscribed with MOULINS SERVICES and plain white envelopes with and without girl with bike logo.

Records were not kept of numbers printed or used. The stamps had worldwide philatelic interest and to this day sets are very rare with few collectors having the printings on both lemon and orange paper, tête-bêche pairs, let alone CTO covers.

A souvenir folder exists with a tropical yellow cover [228 mm x 98 mm] which contains a 1¢ on orange paper and a 2¢ on red paper, both cancelled.

In 2009 the New Zealand National Stamp Exhibition, Timpex, was held in Timaru. This gave a suitable opportunity for a 40 year re-enactment. A special souvenir sheet was printed and Bruce returned to his old delivery ground. Special covers [500] were carried and some suitably signed by both the postie and the city's Mayor. The 30¢ stamp design shows Bruce on his bike (photographed by Micki Flavell) and an orchid blooming in Bruce’s garden (photographed by Bruce.)

The souvenir sheet had one stamp inverted and caused much interest with both old and new collectors. Some covers had tête-bêche pairs on them.

There had been only a few earlier local posts in NZ. Starting with the Pigeon Posts linking Great Barrier Island with Auckland in 1898 (which are often considered the world’s first airmail stamps), the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands for the “General Grant” 1915 expedition, and some special Airmail Services of 1930. All of these labels were evidence of a semi-approved local post. At this stage, the NZ Post Office had a well-protected monopoly. The Timaru Bicycle Post was not an official service.

Bruce Henderson has been involved in many Cinderella issues subsequently, for specially created ‘States’ like Queen Maud Land, Occussi-Ambeno, and Free Vinland. One issue of Occussi-Ambeno commemorated the Moulins Service and another 21 years later it’s anniversary.


I still have minisheets of the 2009 anniversary issue to trade, plus carried covers with the stamp on. But sadly no 1968 stamps left now!
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Re: Timaru Local Post, 1968-69: Bicycle mail in New Zealand.

Post by HalfpennyYellow »

Two 2011 return to sender covers bearing the 2009 anniversary cinderella (both of which Panterra sent me back in 2012):

The original 1968-69 issues seem to sell for quite high prices!
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Re: Timaru Local Post, 1968-69: Bicycle mail in New Zealand.

Post by Global Admin »

Been many years since I saw a set of these. :)
Click HERE to see superb RARE & unusual stamps - FIXED low nett prices, high rez pix + NO 20% buyer fees!
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