Dennis Milne’s restored 1930 Post Office delivery van. Photo / Provided
We will never know how many stamps the post van was carrying, but we do know that it will be on Saturday in front of the Central District Stamps, Coins and Postcards Exhibition.
The 1930 Austin was a delivery vehicle for the New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department until it was sold to private individuals in 1943.
The van was converted into a farm truck and later left under a large macrocarpa tree in Rangiwahia where it had been partially crushed by fallen branches.
The Austin – or what’s left of it – was given to Dennis Milne in 2000. He was going to use it for parts but then decided to restore it and spent a considerable amount of time establishing the vehicle’s provenance. Milne has the original ownership papers.
Saturday will be the 60th exhibition of stamps, coins and postcards of the central districts. It is part of the centenary celebrations of the Manawatū Philatelic Society.
A highlight of the exhibition will be New Zealand’s One Frame interclub competition with 10 companies from Christchurch to Whangārei competing. The Manawatū company hopes to repeat its success of 2016.
The five collectors making up the Manawatū entry are Colin Dyer (Upper Silesia), Frank Sharp (Chalon Head series from New Zealand), Tony Thackery (appreciation cards), Candice Rawstorn (Zepplin Post) and Peter Tozer (B-24 Liberator).
The companies of Horowhenua and Kāpiti also compete.
Manawatū Philatelic Society president Colin Dyer says nominations are submitted by New Zealand’s top collectors. Stamp collecting is much more than sticking stamps in an album and the focus is on the stories behind them.
How Grandpa got me into stamp collecting, Aboriginal art, crown jewels, mushrooms, tomatoes and New Zealand coal production are among the topics of other interclub entries.
They will be judged by a panel of experts from Wellington. It takes several years to become a judge.
To Dyer’s knowledge, club competition has never been held at Palmerston North before.
He expects people from all over the country to attend the exhibition, as part of a convention on stamps, coins and postcards.
Milne’s van is featured on a stamp the Manawatū Philatelic Society commissioned for its centennial. The stamp and the first day cover will go on sale for the first time at the exhibition.
There will be 45 auction tables, 11 dealers, gift packs for junior stamp collectors, collection appraisals and a raffle.
Milne says the restored Austin is too good to stay in its shed and he and his wife Judy have taken it three times to the South Island and once to Auckland.
“It lights up people’s faces – their smiles, which is part of why I do it.”
It drives at around 65km/h and starts not with a key but by switching on the ignition. A nod to modernity is the rear view camera.
Milne, who lives in Mt Stewart, has played with old cars since he was at school. As a teenager, he built himself a Morris 8 Special.
The Austin’s recovery was assisted by a chainsaw and a tractor. Pieces of rotten and fragile wooden cabins were carefully extracted and set aside.
What: Central Districts Stamp, Coin and Postcard Fair
When: Saturday, October 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Community Recreation Center