The Timaru Bicycle Post, 1968 – 1969.

21st Anniversary of the Timaru Bicycle Post.
Click this stamp to see more details.
In 1989, this 15¢ stamp was issued by
Occussi-Ambeno to commemorate the
21st anniversary of the Timaru Bicycle Post.
Click here for more details.
Stafford Street, Timaru, with Tekapo Buildings
 at right.   Photo taken on a public holiday: it is usually MUCH busier than here!
View of the main street of Timaru,
now   nearly   40,000 population.
N.Z. Railways ½d stamp,
with Timaru overprint.
A   rare early Timaru stamp:
Railways ½d stamp mint,
with "TIMARU" overprint.

Bruce Henderson & the Timaru Bicycle Post
by Bill Hornadge
(published in "Cinderellas Australasia")

      Bruce Henderson of New Zealand is without a doubt the most prolific creator of Cinderella stamps in history, the number and scope of his creations having exceeded the activities of the former master, the 19th century S. Allan Taylor of the U.S. When one thinks of Bruce Henderson one automatically recalls his many bogus stamps for such non-existent states as Queen Maud Land, the Republic of Mevu, Waikoa Island, and, of course, his most ambitious enterprise: a veritable flood of stamps for the mythical state of Occussi-Ambeno.

Block of 1 cent stamps.
Tête-bêche block of the 1¢ stamp. (Stirling & Co. Ltd auction 1998, Lot 932.)

    But Bruce Henderson's cinderella activities had a more modest beginning away back in 1968 when he helped organise and run the relatively short-lived Timaru Bicycle Post, officially known as MOULINS SERVICES OFFICE (MSO) which operated at Timaru on the South Island of New Zealand. Although the

Click this stamp to see details of other stamps of Occussi-Ambeno.
1983 stamp from Occussi-Ambeno, celebrating the 200th anniversary of human flight in airships.

labels issued by POSTES MOULINS have long been known to cinderella collectors, and are not particularly scarce, the full


story behind the operation of this interesting juvenile post has until recently been shrouded in some mystery - a mystery which has been at least partly unfolded by Mr Henderson himself.

Geoffrey Mills (left) and Bruce Henderson, at a function in 1970, the year after the Bike Post was closed.
Click this picture to see a bigger photo.
Geoffrey Mills (left) and Bruce Henderson in 1970, the year after the bike post closed.

      Back in 1987 the newsletter of the Timaru Philatelic Society ran a short article on the old Timaru Bicycle Post and its stamps and in April 1988 this found its way into the hands of Mr Henderson who considered the story had many gaps in it which needed rectifying. He wrote an article recalling his recollections of the Post and this was subsequently printed in the July 1988 issue of the Society's newsletter which only recently came to my notice.

      As not many copies of the newsletter would have reached the hands of readers of CINDERELLAS AUSTRALASIA, I have decided to summarise Mr Henderson's very interesting recollections since I believe they deserve a much wider audience than they have had to date, if only because they reveal what a heavy-handed bunch of bureaucrats run the New Zealand Post Office then and now. But let us go back to the beginning of it all in 1968.

      At that time, Bruce Henderson was a schoolboy who was a keen collector and a member of the Timaru Philatelic Society. He conceived the idea of running a local delivery service and enlisted two other High School friends, A.J. Stewart and G.J. Mills for this joint venture, which they named Moulins Services Office. They set up five collecting centres for mail around the city: (1) The Highfield Pharmacy, a suburban chemist shop which provided a lot of commercial work


(from "Cinderella Stamps of Australasia" by Bill Hornadge (1974, Dubbo NSW.)
      On December 2, 1968, two teenagers calling themselves Moulin Services (sic) set up a bicycle local post in Timaru, on the South Island of New Zealand. They offered to deliver letters for 2¢ (against the Post Office letter rate of 3¢) and registered letters for 5¢ (against 18¢ by the post office) and guaranteed same day delivery.
They issued a series of "stamps" to be affixed to mail on the service. These were crude typeset productions printed by the Classic Printing Co and line-rouletted 6¾. After being applied to letters the "stamps" were cancelled by double-lined circular marks applied in black and containing initials of the two operators (SJY or BRH) in the centre.
      On April 12, 1969, the existence of this service came to the notice of the New Zealand Postmaster General who ordered its immediate suspension. No evidence has been forthcoming to show that the service met any community need or that it was other than a philatelic "stunt" by the youthful organisers.
      The "stamps" produced for the service were as follows:
1st PRINTING: 1¢ black on orange inscribed Postal Service Timaru. 2¢ black on deep red inscribed Local Post (sic) Service Timaru.
LATER PRINTINGS: 3¢ green on orange (Timaru Postal Service), 5¢ blue on deep red (Local Post of Timaru), 7¢ red and black on orange (Timaru Local Post) and 15¢ gold on deep red (Timaru Postal Service). The gold inscription on the 15¢ was printed by the thermographic (raised surface) process.
      As the proprietors of this service have not indicated the quantities printed, nor the number of covers carried on this service in the period it was said to be operating, we do not price these items, but merely note their existence.

The 1 cent and 5 cent stamps of the Timaru Bicycle Post, 1968.
The 1¢ and 5¢ stamps, 1968.

Media reports on the Timaru bicycle post stamps | Stanley Gibbons report
Timaru city
| Bruce's subsequent career in stamps | Contact

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