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New Zealand gold rush stamp reveals hidden nuggets

Today’s New Zealand Post stamp issue commemorates the gold rush years that proved crucial to the development of New Zealand as a nation in the 19th century. And purchasers of the 45-cent stamp in the new series may experience a gold rush of their own – if they give it a rub.

Prospectors in their thousands flocked to New Zealand from around the world after gold was discovered by Gabriel Read in Otago in 1861. Successive rushes on the West Coast and in the Coromandel further raised international interest in New Zealand and attracted further waves of people seeking their fortune.

Purchasers of the 45-cent stamp in the new series may experience a gold rush of their own – if they give it a rub. For the first time New Zealand Post has produced a stamp using heat-sensitive thermographic ink – which means that if you rub the 45-cent stamp, the heat from your finger will magically reveal gleaming nuggets in the pan of the 1880s prospector depicted in the photograph.

New Zealand Post Stamps manager, Ivor Masters, says the new interactive stamp is “a fun way of appreciating our history. The gold rushes had a dramatic impact on this small, young and geographically remote country – for example the population of Dunedin alone almost trebled in less than two years. It was a fascinating time in our history – and some of New Zealand’s best-known businesses got their start during the rushes.””

Apart from the 45-cent stamp, the rest of the Gold Rush series comprises stamps carrying historical photographs from around the country:
• 90 cent – an image of the settlement at Kuranui Creek, Thames, a year after gold was first discovered in the area.
• $1.35 – Chinese prospectors at Tuapeka, Otago
• $1.50 – the last Otago gold escort at Roxburgh in 1901 – complete with driver, Bank of New Zealand staff, and Police escorts.
• $2.00 – an image of the bustling Dunedin waterfront.

Heat-sensitive thermochromic ink on part of the 45-cent stamp means that if you rub the pan of the 1880s prospector depicted in the photograph, the heat from your finger will magically reveal gleaming nuggets.

According to Rowan Wright, New Zealand Post Stamps design and procurement sSpecialist, “Thermochromic inks are used in a wide variety of applications such as battery testers, food wrappers and novelty cups, but this is the first time we’ve used them on a stamp. The inks are made up of special dyes similar to wax particles which melt as they are heated. As they melt the colour changes – to almost clear, showing the image beneath it – and then returns to black as it cools down.”

Rowan says the Stamps team is always looking at new and innovative ideas it can incorporate into stamp issues.

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