Highfield Cover, 9 Nov 1931

New Zealand issued airmail stamps for the first time on 10 November 1931. However, some stamps were sold in Highfield (Timaru) on 9 November.

All the Highfield covers contain the full set of airmail stamps and are postmarked Highfield on 9 November, the day before the stamps were officially issued. I have been maintaining a list of such covers and so far have identified 39 distinct examples.

Christmas UK

The example cover is to England and is routed via the Karachi-London Air Mail Service. Mail from New Zealand to the UK was first sent by sea to Sydney. The routing instructions would mean that it was then sent by sea from Sydney to Karachi.


However, it has the cachet of the first All Australian Airmail in which Christmas mail was flown all the way from Australia to London. As there are examples of that cachet being applied in error, the question of which service was used remains.

The following three points show that the cover was flown on the All Australian Airmail of Charles Kingsford Smith and Scotty Allan.


It seems clear that the sender intended the cover to be sent by the regular Karachi - London service and the reason that it carried extra postage was purely philatelic - i.e. to have the complete set of airmail stamps.

According to the Airmails of New Zealand, vol 2, some covers flown on the special internal flight and intended for the Karachi-London service also received this cachet. However it was noticed that some of these covers that did not carry sufficient postage for the All Australian Airmail and they were sent by sea to Karachi. (The 3d fee for the internal airmail meant that a cover with the full airmail set plus 2d surface postage would be 1d short of the required postage.)

It therefore seems that the authorities decided that, provided a cover carried sufficient postage, mail for the UK would be sent by the (supposedly much faster) service provided by the All Australian Airmail.

Other Highfield covers

A F M Paterson

The covers were all sent by Alex F M Paterson, the first President of the Airmail Society of New Zealand. He was from Timaru and was the originator of many covers of the period, often addressing the letters to himself. The covers usually have Paterson's name and address on the back in purple produced by a rubber stamp.

I have seen several other Highfield covers described in articles or auctions or scans have been sent to me by their owners. They were sent mainly to other aerophilatelists or dealers and brief descriptions are given below.

Ten more to Davis

A second cover {2} addressed to Davis in Liverpool is depicted in an article [4], a third one {3} was offered on eBay in June 2008 while a fourth one {4} was offered by the Complete Stamp Company in December 2010, a fifth one {5} by Auckland City Stamps in April 2012. A scan of a sixth one {6} has been sent to me by its owner while a seventh one {7} was sold by Len Jury in 2004 and a scan has been sent to me by its owner. An eighth one {8} was on eBay in June 2013. A ninth cover {9} was offered in an Mowbray auction in October 2014 at $1000NZ while a tenth cover {10} was sent to me by its owner after my article in The Kiwi [6] An eleventh {10} cover was sold by Airmail Collector in 2019 for £165. It differed from the other Davies covers in that it was addressed to Paterson, c/o Davies.

Christmas UK

Four to Paterson c/o Dalwick

The scan of the cover on the left {12} was sent to me by its owner, John Desbois. It is addressed to Alex Paterson himself c/o R Dalwick in Bournemouth. A second cover to Alex Paterson c/o Dalwick was in the 2011 auction of the New Zealand Society of Great Britain {13} while a third cover was sent to me by its owner {14} and a fourth from the Robin Startup estate was in the auction of the New Zealand Air Mail Society in February 2018 {15}.

Eight more to Dalwick

Another Highfield cover {16} addressed to Dalwick himself is shown on the front cover of the Stapleton catalogue [2] while a second cover {17} to the same address was sold on eBay in August 2004 and again in an auction in 2008 and a scan has been sent to me by its owner. The scan of two further covers to dalwick {18, 19} have also been sent to me by their (different) owners. A fifth {20} was in an auction in August 2013 while a sixth {21} was on eBay in May 2016, a seventh{22} was on eBay in February 2018 and an eighth{23} was on eBay in July 2020.

Three to Drossos

Walker [1] describes a cover to Greece and such a cover {24} is shown on the website of the Air Mail Society of New Zealand. The cover is addressed to Alex Paterson c/o the famous dealer P J Drossos. A similar, but different, cover {25} was offered in an auction in 2003. It is routed via the Karachi - London service and was backstamped in Greece on 15 December. A third from the Robin Startup estate was in the auction of the New Zealand Air Mail Society in February 2018 {26}.

Two to Smith

Two covers {27}, {28} to Stephen Smith in Calcutta were advertised in auctions in 2011. They have the routing instructions Via Australian Air Mail Services. One of them was offered again in 2012.

Christmas UK

Two to Paterson c/o Roessler

A cover to America {29}, addressed to Alex Paterson c/o the famous dealer A C Roessler was offered for sale in 2003. A different cover {30} with the same address was in the Auckland City Stamps auction in March 2012.

Seven more to Roessler

A cover addressed to Roessler himself {31} was offered on eBay in 2010 and the successful bidder sent me a scan which is shown here while a similar cover {32} from the Allan Berry collection was in an Auckland City Stamps auction in March 2011 with an estimate of $NZ1000. A scan of a third cover {33} to Roessler himself was sent to me by its owner and a fourth from the Robin Startup estate was in the auction of the New Zealand Air Mail Society in February 2018 {34}. A fifth {35} was listed on eBay on 31 August 2018, a sixth{36} was in a Mowbrays auction in March 2021 and a seventh cover {37} was sold on eBay in January 2023.

One to Haiti

A cover to Haiti {38}, via USA, was offered in 2004 in the sale of the Mike Shand Collection.

One to Dworak

A cover to a Mr A.V. Dworak at the Gossip Printery in Kansas {39} was offered in a John Mowbray auction in 2009 with an estimate of $NZ1000.

One to Foley

A scan of a cover to a Mr F G Foley in Leighton on Sea in Essex {40} was sent to me by its owner in 2021.

One to Paul

A cover to Mr H T Paul of Lee on the Solent, Hants {41} appeared for sale by Classic Stamps as part of a collection in 2021.

(This is the only page on the site where other people's scans are shown. I have other scans of Highfield covers, but do not show them as I do not have the permission of their owners. However, I save them to ensure that there is no double counting in the above list. If you own a Highfield cover, I would be very interested in receiving a scan to check if it is on the list.)

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The first two scans were made by the author. Information on this page is taken from:
[1] Airmails of New Zealand, volume 2 (1986) compiled by Douglas A Walker,
[2] New Zealand Airmail Catalogue, (2nd Edition, 1994), James Stapleton, published by the Airmail Society of New Zealand
[3] The Postal History of British Airmails, E. B. Proud, 1991.
[4] Christmas Air Mails, Audrey Mallin, Air Mail News, vol 32, issue 143, pp 81-85, December 1989.
[5] Highfield Covers, B Scott, New Zealand Air Mail News, no 658, May 2006.
[6] The Number of 'Highfield' Covers, R Clark, The Kiwi, vol 67, no 3, pp 85-86, May 2018.