A difficult case: "The MOST BEAUTIFUL of 2009" from New Zealand

In Newsletter 93 Eric mentioned the newly issued block of the Kiwi-post, containing one of the stamps from the series New Zealand Motorsports World Champions (date of issue February 2nd 2009). It had been classified as unofficial issue, because this block had not been sold through the normal channels. But what is the exact story of this block?
Since a few years the New Zealand post gives its private customers 1 point for each NZ$ (New Zealand dollar) that they spend in a year. These points are gathered on a special Collectors saving card. In the year after the year of reception these points can be exchanged for philatelic items. Available items are, amongst others, vouchers for future spendings, and special collectors issues that are only available through this loyalty system. The points gathered in one year can not be transferred to the next year, so they have to be spent on gifts or issues of the respective year.

The  New Zealand Post Collector Card
The New Zealand Post Collector Card

One of the items especially made for the point collectors are the blocks containing the most beautiful stamps issued that year. In 2009 this honor was also granted to the stamp of 2.50 NZ$ from the motor sports series, showing the road racing motorcycle driver Hugh Anderson, World Champion in 1963 (50 + 125 cc), 1964 (50 cc) and 1965 (125 cc). In total 9 stamps have been selected for the year 2009, that could be ordered in 3 different blocks:

Sheet 1:
$2.50 Anzac
$2.50 Giant Weta
$2.00 Auckland Harbour Bridge 50th Anniv.

New Zealand Post Best of 2009 - sheet 1

Sheet 2:
$2.50 Cape Reinga
$2.00 Year of the Ox
$2.50 Champions of Motor Sport

New Zealand Post Best of 2009 - sheet 2

Sheet 3:
$2.30 Matariki Heitiki
$1.80 Christmas Stamp
$2.80 Sir Peter Blake

New Zealand Post Best of 2009 - sheet 3

The motorcycle stamp in the MOST BEAUTIFUL sheet differs from the original issue by its deviating perforation. The normally issued series and block stamps have a perforation of 14, the ones in the MOST BEAUTIFUL blocks have a perforation of 13¼ : 13 ½.

But what is the dilemma for us as collectors?
The FIP regulations that form the guidelines for what is a worth collecting (it would be better to say: what may be included in an exposition collection) talk about stamps that are freely available, or have been available, through the postal offices in the land of issue. And these blocks clearly have not been generally available.
On the other hand they talk about allowing philatelic elements that have been made with the purpose to issue them, or are suitable for franking post to be sent. And the stamps in these blocks may be used for sending post.
So.... What to advise in this case? Perhaps our FIP-regulations expert and leading exhibitor, the MFN secretary, can give his opinion.
Fortunately we, as a club, apply as standard that all issues that come in the Michel catalog are also included in our catalog, and this will thus result in including both issues. The stamp (and the block) of the normal issue are listed in the Michel under number 2573A (Bl 238), and the MOST BEAUTIFUL block as Bl255 and the stamp therefrom as 2573C.

For now I give this block the befenit of the doubt, and thus think that the status addition to the MOST BEAUTIFUL block as "unofficial" is not yet completely clear. This shows how complex the tasks of novelty professors and catalogue builders can be made.

Hans de Kloet


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