The Story of Stamps and Anglican Missions

Before we had stamps….

For thousands of years before instant messaging and email, there have been lots of ways of delivering messages.

In the beginning, people used to run carrying messages from place to place. As humans learnt to tame animals, news was delivered by riders on horseback or camel. Persia was the first to have a real postal system, which dates to Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. They used stations, and carriers would go post to post swapping a tired horse for a fresh one so they could deliver that much faster.

In America 1860 to 1861, the Pony Express also used relay riders. The British Postal Service goes back to 1516, but wasn’t until 1660 that the state operated General Post Office was set up as a government department.

A Persian mail courier

Morse code and heliograph.

Messages that didn’t need paper could be sent by Morse code. This was invented by an American called Samuel Finley Breese Morse, (1791-1872). He was not only an inventor but also a famous painter.

Before the invention of the telegraph, most messages that had to be sent over long distances but not written down were carried by messengers who memorised them.

A most novel way of communication was the heliograph. It was a simple but effective instrument for instantaneous optical communication over long distances during the late 19th and early 20th century. Its main uses were military, survey, and forest protection work.

Letter locking.

Because paper was expensive, “letter locking”, came into use, so no envelope was needed by the writer. The technique became common throughout Europe during the Late Middle Ages (1250-1500) and Early Modern periods (1500-1815).

By folding and cutting letters in various clever patterns, people attempted to hide their correspondence from unwanted readers, and the “locks” came in myriad types. If some tried to open one of their letters without knowing how it was constructed it would fall apart in pieces…

A not so fun fact…
It is said that Mary Queens of Scots sent her cousin Queen Elizabeth the First a locked letter the night before she was executed.

The beginning of Stamps.

With common use of envelopes and public postal services, stamps were used to show that the letter’s postage was paid. The Penny Black was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system.

It was first issued in the United Kingdom on 1 May 1840, and it showed the profile of Queen Victoria. Today our stamps are varying in colour size and shape and often tell a story.

Stamps Deliver More than Mail

Our Stamps Story

In Anglican Mission’s history, stamps have helped achieve much more than just delivering mail.

Anglican Missions came into existence in 1922, 108 years after Samuel Marsden’s first Christmas Day service in New Zealand and since then, has grown to be a player on the international scene.

Many valuable projects have been funded through collecting and selling used stamps. We are not sure, but we think this enterprise began sometime in the 1930s.


Over the years, stamp designs have reflected the history of NZ, its culture and literacy, education, and lifestyle.

The colour and variety of stamps were very attractive to Mum and Dad collectors, and it was common for many children to collect stamps as a hobby.

Keen collectors were willing to pay for used stamps. And so, individuals and parishes all over the country donated their used stamps to Anglican Missions to be sold to raise funds.

A stamp with a Tui on it

The variety of stamps and the number that were being produced made this project a very good money earner for missions over the last century.

Funds raised were used for overseas projects such as the House of Sarah (which supports vulnerable women), education projects, water projects, and mission support.

Funds raised from stamps even purchased a tractor for the South Pacific, which is still in use today.

A person on a red tractor

Stamps have helped put love into action for over 90 years.

The People

Some parishes had people who trimmed and sorted stamp donations before sending them to Anglican Missions.

However, many stamps arrived on torn off envelopes or still on the entire envelope. The stamps arriving as they did gave volunteers the opportunity to help Anglican Missions by trimming the stamps neatly and putting aside those that were damaged.

We estimate that at least one hundred parishes and people sent stamps in every year.

Draw full of stamps

Over the years, office staff, volunteers, experts have sold stamp donations on Trade Me, through auctions, and to individual purchasers.

Over the past 10 years alone, selling stamps raised $94,537. This included sales of entire stamp collections that were donated, which generated lump sums

Recently I had the opportunity to meet up with three lovely gentlemen, Garth England, Tony Cakebread and Ken Frampton, who together have clocked up 55 years of helping the Anglican Missions used stamps project.

Garth has done 25 years of trimming stamps on his own – a great effort!

Tony talking at a function.

Both Ken and Tony are collectors in their own right and have sold and purchased stamps to raise funds for overseas missions.

We are grateful for their expertise as with the many others who have given their time in past years.

Linda Dear, who worked at Anglican Missions for seven years did a superb job staying connected with parishes, Garth, Tony, and Ken, the stamp project in its original form has now ceased due to time and workloads.

However, if you would still like to pass on stamps to Anglican Missions for our projects, Ken Frampton has agreed any to trim the stamps and pass the funds from sales onto Anglican Missions.

Two people talking to each other at a function

Stamps by the numbers.

Dollars raised in 10 years.

Years of Stamp Ministry.

Years of combined experience.

Do you want to send us stamps?

Please send them to:

Stamps for Missions

C/- K Frampton

17 Kensington Ave Petone, Lower Hutt 5012

Or please drop them off at Anglican Missions’ office.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all your support over the years and we hope it will continue going forward.