Re: 1929 Health stamps
Having read your questions with interest I would offer you the following information.
a. The second printing of 2,000,000 stamps was at the request of The Commissioner of Stamp Duties, Wellington dated 5.12.1929 as follows
'The matter of Charity stamps tp be printed has been given further consideration, and, in view of the fact that the Government Printing Office will be closed down for the Christmas holidays, it is deemed desirable to have a further two million stamps printed. I should be glad, therefore, if you would have an order placed for a further two million of the special stamps making the total number ordered four million
Therefore from this memo (copy in NZ P.O. Headquarter Archives File 55/16/20) the statement in Handbook Vol. 1 page 402 is based on this memo
b. A further sheet in this file states the following
'In sheets from the first printing there were no bars in the top selvedge, but it was found immeadiately that, owing to the softness of the plate , serious wear was developing at the place of contact with the pressure roller, therefore it was decided to use "blocks" and impressions from these appear in the top selvedge in later printings. However as the printing progressed "wear" developed and this can be recognized, particularly in the fine shading lines on the veil to the right of the stamp, by the flattening of the lines to form a solid irregular triangle"
c. The issue of the stamp 11.12.1929 and withdrawn 28.2.1930 was accepted, but the re-issue from 5.12.1930 and then withdrawn 28.2.1931 did cause some controversy. This was the same date as for the 1930 issue
A statement appears in NZ Stamp Collector Vol.XII No. 2 Sept. 1931 page 57 (paraphased) 'that the sales of the 1930 Health stamps was most dissapointing and there can be no question that the action of the re- issue of the 1929 stamps had a considerable effect on the sales of the 1930 issue.
The official protest of the NZ Philatelic Council at least has had the effect of making the authorities consider their action, with the result that it is unlikely that any future issues will be treated in the same manner'
It has been possible to check 9 sheets of the 1929 Health stamp issue in the Te Papa archives, the only ones held are of the second printing.
The printing of the sheets all show the 80 stamp pane to be angled oh the sheet with the followin resulting measurement of the selvedges all measurement in mm
Sh 1 Sh2 Sh 3 Sh 4 Sh 5 Sh 6 Sh 7 Sh 8 Sh 9
Top Selvedge 39 -41 40 - 41 40-41 40-41 40-41 38-40 40-42 39-40 40-42 vaiation L to R
Bottom .. 36-34 36-34 35-34 35-34 35-34 36-34 36-34 35-34 36-34 .. ..
Left .. 21-20 21-20 21-20 21-20 20-19 21-20 21-20 21-20 21-20 from top to bott' of Sh
Right .. 7-8 7-8 7-8 7-8 8-9 7-8 7-8 7-8 7-8 .. ..
From this sample without knowing the size of the sheets used it is possible the printed sheets 'could have been trimmed'
You have not made it clear in the description of your blocks if the ones with the wide upper selvedge are from the 1st or the 2nd printing, however I have seen examples from both printing with a wide top selvedge.
My thoughts related to your blocks are:
It is quite likely that the stamps were printed on Glockner printing machine which would have the sheet machine fed and the post office would not want to have large pieces of watermarked paper available to the public with the printed stamps and trimming would take place before issue from the printer. To have strict control on selvedge width would not be a factor.
I hope that this helps J-LW