Saturday 23 July 2011

What is Thematic Philately?

Thematic philately is collecting stamps and other philatelic items that illustrate a theme: birds, soccer, history, art, way of life, trees, etc. The term "theme" has a dynamic meaning implying the personal elaboration by the collector, who develops a full story around it. The material used for the collection must have a genuine postal relation.

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What is Thematic Philately? There will of course be many answers to such a basic question. An organisation from which one would expect to get a good and well contemplated answer is of course the International Federation for Philately (F.I.P.). Thanks to the site of the British Thematic Association I found that answer and pass it on to the readers of this blog.


Thematic philately is collecting stamps and other philatelic items that illustrate a theme: birds, soccer, history, art, way of life, trees, etc. The term "theme" has a dynamic meaning implying the personal elaboration by the collector, who develops a full story around it.

Once stamp collections consisted of stamps from one country or a group of countries. The stamps were usually displayed in date of issue order. Not any more! A thematic collection consists of the widest possible range of philatelic material, from the widest possible range of postal authorities, without any time constraint. Every item selected should be relevant to the theme and arranged in the most suitable order to tell a story.

The outline of the story is presented as a Plan, showing the steps of the development of the theme. The Plan is similar to the Contents page in a book and it is normally organised in chapters and sub-chapters, which make the logical flow of the story along a clear and consistent thread visible.

A thematic collection is fascinating because it allows for continuous improvement. The more you get familiar with the subject, the more you discover new details for supporting your story and acquire the relevant philatelic items. The more you know about the material from using philatelic literature, by browsing through auction catalogues and visiting the dealers, and by studying other collections on display at the philatelic shows, the more you can improve your development when including new items.


Collections that do not develop a theme but simply accumulate philatelic items with a common subject are far from the essence of thematic philately, since they present no "story", little personal study of the theme. The arrangement of items depicting the chosen subject by country of issue or by year, as well as the choice of items issued by countries of a selected geographic area or in a certain time frame, may be just preliminary approaches to thematic philately. Anyway, they do not bring the true pleasure of thematic collecting.

What can I collect?

A thematic collection is built around an important concept, freely chosen by the collector. Normally this choice relates to a personal or professional interest: medicine or astronomy, gardening or fishing, chess or car races, computers or music... there is no limit to the choice of your theme! By selecting a familiar theme, you will have a lot of information at your fingertips and it will be very easy to draft the Plan of your collection.

A quick perusal of a catalogue from a recent world exhibition will give a very effective overview of the thematic myriad of options available to collectors for choosing a thematic collection. Some titles, chosen at random: World of Butterflies , Sailing ships, "From Abacus to Laptop, Tennis, Apiculture, Weather Story, Railways, Optics, French Painting in the 19th century, League of Nations, Motor Vehicles, Photography, Universal Postal Union, Republic of Weimar, Fire, Christian Vocations, Carnival, Bridges, History of printing, Wine, Roses, Radiomania, History of Tobacco, Ailments of Venus, Danube, Theatre, Dogs, Water, Music through the Ages, Mozart, European Integration, Struggles against Infection, Olympic Games, Christmas, "Nationalities 1914/18".

The wealth of philatelic material often allows collectors to interpret the same subject in different ways, thus generating very different collections. One can present a synthetic view of the whole subject or analyse a specific area of the same. For example, at the afore mentioned exhibition the following were also on display: Birds, Australian Bird Life, Homo‑avis Co‑existence, and How to Identify Birds; in yet another show we saw Eagle, Owls, Penguins, Swan, sand Bird as a Symbol.

What does "Appropriate Philatelic Material" mean?

In addition to stamps a thematic collection can use other items related to transmission of mail other postal communications, which contribute to the development of theme through their illustrations and/or captions. These items are considered appropriate as long they have been issued, intended for issue, or produced in the preparation for issue, used, or treated as valid for postage by governmental, local or private postal agencies, or by other duly commissioned or empowered authorities. The most relevant items are:

Postal Stationery:

postal cards, envelopes and aerogrammes, that have an imprint of a stamp and, often with an illustration,

Postmarks and Cancellations:

postal markings applied when an item goes through the mail, sometimes with an advert or commemorative content,

Franking Meters:

the franking 'slug' from meters are used by many companies and organisations to frank their mail, often with an advertisement,

Stamp Booklets:

these may have illustrations on the cover(s) or on advertising panels inside,

Maximum Cards:

these are picture postcards with a stamp on the picture side and a cancella­tion linking the subject on the card with the stamp.

Several other items, including revenue stamps may contribute to the development of the theme, whereas artists’ drawings, essays and proofs, do increase the philatelic interest of the collection, if appropriately selected.

Where do I find more information?

Several sources enable you to better understand the options and the possibilities of thematic collecting and provide ideas and detailed information for building a collection. A number of national Federations have a commission in charge of this class, aimed at giving guidance to thematic collectors. In several countries thematic collectors have founded a national association, that publish a specialised magazine; members are also organised in thematic groups, active on the most popular themes, which often provide bulletins and checklists of the material relevant to their theme.

Stamp exhibitions and fairs are important events for making contacts, looking at exhibits, visiting the dealers. Those organised with the support of thematic organisations are a good occasion for meeting other thematic collectors and exchanging both ideas and material.

The internet is a powerful source of information for identifying and making contacts with philatelic associations and dealers; the FIP site is a very useful starting point that includes links to other important philatelic sites. Furthermore search engines are available that allow you to find thematic and philatelic information on the fly.


Two points worth noting!

I see two elements of great importance in the above answer to the question: What is Thematic Philately?:

1) The personal story:

The term "theme" has a dynamic meaning implying the personal elaboration by the collector, who develops a full story around it.

2) The postal relation:

The material used for a thematic collection must have a genuine postal relation. Examples: "philatelic material, from the widest possible range of postal authorities", "transmission of mail other postal communications", issued, intended for issue, or produced in the preparation for issue", "valid for postage", "postal markings applied" when an item "goes through the mail".

As can be seen the "functional" aspect of the stamp and related postal material is underlined. In other words: "there is no room for philatelic products".

This is my interpretation. You are welcome to agree or disagree with me.

Saturday 2 July 2011

What is happening to our dear hobby?

Does material produced for stamp collectors - so-called philatelic products - pose a threath to traditional stamp collecting and philately. If so, how come? and why? Let us start a debate on this topic because it affects many of us and for sure has come to stay.

Does philatelic products flourish more than they used to? Is there today a greater demand for philatelic products than a few years back? How to find out? Assuming that the number of stamp and cover collectors is declining, but still of a very considerable size? Assuming that postal used material is getting less and more difficult to get at? Could it be that a gap, bigger than a few years back - that is before e-mail and other forms of web based communication became part of almost every ones daily life – is created and is being filled out by philatelic products in increasingly large quantities?

I do not have statistics to back me up, but I think and I fear that the answers to my questions posed above are “yes”.

Does it matter? I would say yes! Why is this? It is because such a development undermines the traditional and very diverse hobby of stamp collecting and philately. The positive side of course is that the number of people interested in stamps is maybe not declining as rapidly as it is sometimes asserted. But this leads to more questions. Are collectors of philatelic products really collectors of postage stamps. Broadly speaking of course the answer must be affirmative, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of the fun connected with being a stamp collector is going lost for those that prefer the philatelic products.

Let me give you some examples. A First Day Cover - and that goes for most CTO covers - are created only for collectors and fiends of stamps. The CTO covers have never seen a postal process. So questions concerning rates and routes don’t matter to collectors of CTOs. The same goes for mini-sheets and most of the CTO cancelled stamps. Variations in perforation, gum, design sometimes called varieties don’t matter. The philatelic product is complete in itself.

The background for issuing the stamp also changes. It is often seen that stamps of a certain face value do not reflect a postal demand. Stamps still have interesting and likeable motives, but the processes and resources that were in earlier years put into the design, layout, engraving and printing have today been cut considerably. The little new pieces of art that we were used to welcome and enjoy when issued are disappearing rapidly.

The so-called "development" can be cruel. Luckily we are still many that appreciate a good old well designed stamp and postal used covers with all the stories and mysteries that they entail.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Newspaper Wrapper from Norway to US New Jersey March 1902

This is a multi object, i.e. an object with many features: In the postal sense, it is a newspaper wrapper. Considering the little advertisement in the upper left corner, I would classify it as a private wrapper. The advertisement also leads me to believe that the content of the wrapper was the Nordic Philatelic Monthly (Nordisk Filatelistisk Tidskrift) published by the Philatelic Societies in Stockholm, Christiania (today Oslo, the capital of Norway) and Copenhagen in common. Editorship was taken in turns by the clubs. At the time, March 1902, it had just passed to Sweden, which is very likely the reason why certain info has been crossed out.

The Editor, Henrik Dethloff and his staff, situated in Christiania, posted the wrapper on March 2rd, 1902. In choosing the newspaper wrapper category the sender opted for the cheapest possible rate, the printed matter rate. However, to make sure, that it would reach its destination the Editor chose to send it sent registered. This in itself is quite a rare combination. Printed matter normally indicates a sample of mass production of little value.

The rate 60 + 10 = 70 øre, consisted of 20 øre for registration and 50 øre that is 5 øre pr 50 gr for printed matter to (Europe and) the United States. The wrapper + content must have weighed 500 gr or half a kilo. Knowing that the individual copies of the monthly were not terribly heavy my guess is that at least 5 samples if not more were shipped by the same wrapper.

It was sent to Hiram E. Deats, who was one of the great philatelic writers and collectors of revenue stamps and of New Jersey history. He was also President of the New Jersey Library Association; the library in Flemington N.J. is named after him. He was editor of An Historical Reference List of the Revenue Stamps of the United States in 1898, which is still one of the most important books extant on U.S. revenue stamps. A truly great and important Philatelist.

Deats was also a dealer. He was one-half of Deats and Sterling. About 1895, the U.S. government announced that they were emptying their archives and were going to burn it all as waste paper. Deats and Sterling bought Ten Railroad Boxcars full of paper, paying the equivalent of about $40,000 in today's money: Many thousands of stamps, proofs, essays, and covers, plus important correspondence. They and 8 helpers then spent the next two years going through and organizing it all. The book he edited was the result, and the income from selling the material to collectors over time. To this day, U.S. revenue collectors should bow at the very mention of his name.
The reference book he edited, which is usually called The Boston Book, is available on line here:

However, the editor and sender, Henrik Dethloff, Christiania, is also a well-known philatelist. Together with another great Norwegian philatelist Justus Anderssen, Henrik Dethloff published the very first specialised handbook of Norwegian stamps: “Norges frimerker 1855-1924.” The Scandinavian Collectors Club (US) in 1942 created in an award in honor of Justus Anderssen and Henrik Dethloff, the two philatelists who prepared the first Norwegian handbooks. This award is considered the highest distinction in Norwegian philately.

One issue I have not yet been able to clarify: The mark in French language which says “Bureau au réexpedition de Kristiania”.

The info on Hiram E. Deats and his work is the result of research kindly made by my friend Bart from N.Y.

A very welcome anonymous comment explain the use of the postmark “Bureau au réexpedition de Kristiania”. Take a look:

Sunday 7 November 2010

My carreer as a stamp collector (1st part)


I will in this post, which will run over several sections, try to piece together fragments of events, memories and experiences, that I have gained as a stamp collector for many years, into one whole. I will then register some of the values that I have learned to appreciate as a collector, because they have helped me progress from one collecting level to the next, next, next etc. I am in other words, far from finished collecting stamps .

1. Age 6 - 15

Stamp packets, office-clips and clips from correspondence of family and acquaintances was when I was six years old (1959), the first sources to my collection, which of course was a world-wide collection. Everything was good. As I determined the origin of the stamps country by country, I mounted them in a self-made album consisting of rectangles drawn on bent A4 sheets. Duplicates came in envelopes.

At my 4th and 5th grade in school (I am now 11-12 years old) two schoolmates and I formed our own little postage stamp club. Its name was "The Perforation". I collected Scandinavia, Ejnar Portugal and Ole played the clarinet. It was limited in what came out of the stamp club, but it was cosy and buns that our mothers baked were good.

One time I showed up at the local stamp club's junior section. That I did not get much out of. The other boys were much wiser and smarter than I was, I thought. They knew how to look up stamps in a catalogue and all discussions were about catalogue value and their recent discovery of variants of Danish and German stamps.

The family's annual visit to Copenhagen enabled the purchase of practical plastic cartons and glassine envelopes in Magazin du Nord’s stamp department. Their stamp selection was, however, not very exciting and above all expensive. Dad and I went instead to see stamp dealer Junior in Silver Street to complement the collection. I remember Junior unsuccessfully tried to convince me that a beautiful pair of AFA Denmark AFA number 7 was a better buy than one single piece. This wise counsel, however, did not go down well. There was no room for pairs in my homemade album.

Every week I read the stamp columns in Sunday Politiken and Berlingske Saturday. (I cut the articles and have them still). I subscribed to Popular Philately (PF) to keep up with the new issues and also found the addendum to AFA. When a new Danish stamp unveiled I submitted addressed envelopes to the Post's Philatelic Department to get them stamped as FDCs. These envelopes were one of my biggest disappointments. What could I do with them other than to pile them? Nobody was interested in my FDCs.

I took over my parents Schaubeck albums. To their amazement, I immediately removed all the stamps and put them into a stock book. These two World Wide albums from the 1930'ies had too many empty spaces. How I ever could have something presentable by those albums I had no idea. Luckily, I saved the albums and have them today.

Through small ads in Popular Philately and a Scandinavian quarterly magazine, I got my first pen friends in Denmark and Scandinavia. Sven from Stockholm sent me through many years three of all new Swedish stamps. A stamp for my collection and 2 tokens to barter with. I did what I could to be a faithful pen friend but homework often had to come before the hobby. Thanks to The Oceania Collector, I also got friends in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and especially in Australia. My little travel typewriter, which I got from grandpa ticked along merrily.

An event, which had far greater impact on my stamp career than I understood at the time, was when Richard Boyer, the brother of friends of my grandparents, one day came to visit. I was told that he was a great collector of Frederiksberg. He was actually even president of the country's largest club: Frederiksberg Stamp Society, FFF.

Boyer was appreciative of my little collection, and gave me good advice, that I could move forward. He told me, for example about the quality of cancellations on Danish stamps, especially King Christian X series. He showed me some of the less known Danish errors like "the expensive candy", missing crosses in the Alexandrine series, the broken leg on the Nordic swan stamps and 70 ore King Christian X with thick figures. He asked me for the first time to face the issue. When some time in the future you have a complete collection of Denmark, that is one of each, what will be your next step? - I am still uncertain as to what should be the answer.

Boyer's visit ended with my father joining Frederiksberg Stamp Society on my behalf. I was not old enough. FFF's club meetings, I could not go to because they took place in Copenhagen, and I lived in Southern Jutland, but FFFs swap leader began sending beautiful selection consignments for me and I took with my father (who paid the feast) stamps to complete my collection. Now there was slippage in the joints.

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The next section of the post will be about my membership in Haderslev Stamp Club and participation in its Board. I met personalities like the chairman of the club, grocery shop owner Larsen, the nice “home-German” and Germany specialist Geil and Sigfred Jensen. The latter inspired me with his collection of Danish bi-coloured, Henning Schneider, who moved to the capital, my neighbour and Iceland collector Eigil Rasmussen and finally my participation in 2 club shows and my meeting with the well-known collector Jacob Engel.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Collector! Write the story of your collection

For many years Stamp Clubs and Philatelic Societies have noted a downward trend in membership and – what is worse – fewer applications for membership. The usual response has been that we, the active collectors, must do something in order to create an interest for collecting stamps among youth. The underlying assumption is that despite the fact that many a young collector give up stamp collecting after a couple of years there is a good chance that some of them will return to stamp collecting later in their lives when time and opportunity permits.

The problem is that this recipe is no longer a workable one. Too few boys and girls show an interest in stamp collecting. Competition from other leisure- time activities is overwhelming. Being an old-time collector and still gaining so much pleasure from philately I would like to try to ensure the order of succession in the widest sense. So, what to do besides convincing other grown ups and especially retired people many of which do not know what to do now? Can we come up with a new and workable recipe?

I believe that a new recipe should be formulated around “the story of a stamp collection” and that promotion of this story should happen at fairs and exhibitions, via new books including e-books, at schools, at post offices and so on. Where- and whenever the opportunity arises collections should be presented, but not just the collection. It must be accompanied by the story behind the collection as well as of the collection and it should be told by the collector him or her self.

The story of the collector does not find its way on its own. It must be promoted and it should be compulsory for exhibitors to promote it. It might happen by developing or adding to the already compulsory introduction sheet showing the plan of the collection in the form of a synopsis.

As a matter of fact the idea of a synopsis was discussed by the F.I.P. Traditional Commission at its meeting in Bucharest on June 26, 2008. Take a look at Click SYNOPSIS EXAMPLE and you will see several examples of how a good synopsis might look.

At the outset it can look a bit complicated. I do not believe it has to be complicated. If you know your collection, and know it well, which you no doubt will, then putting a bit of order in your material, adding a structure to it, be it by topic, by event or chronologically you already have a draft synopsis which you can develop further.

Of course the history of a collection must be printed in the catalogue of the exhibition, on paper or virtual, if such is produced, or in other ways. Collectors should tell the story of how they happened to create their collection as well as the story of the collection. The two tasks are not the same thing. I have no doubt most collectors will be more than willing to do just that.

Monday 6 April 2009

Yes I Collect Stamps! I am a Philatelist. (31.01.2010)

My four collections

”Do you play golf”? – Having moved to Malaysia I often get that question. “No I don’t, but I collect stamps, and I have done so since I was six”, I answer. The reaction to this statement varies a lot. Some are reminded that they themselves did collect stamps, but have lain off long ago. Others suddenly remember inheriting a collection and wonder where could it be? Many are surprised and say. “Do people really still collect stamps?” as if the hobby belongs to the past!

Apart from the poshness that clings to the word “philatelist” there is traditionally a marked difference between a stamp collector and a philatelist. The stamp collector gathers as many different stamps that he or she can get hold of and put them into stock books in a more or less systematic fashion. The philatelist goes deeper into the history behind a stamp, its motive and use and possibly its different types and errors. Having studied the collection a philatelist may try to tell a story based on the stamps. It is up to each collector to decide what story to tell and whether to present the story to an audience at an exhibition.

I like to tell a story with my stamps and I have exhibited a collection. One of my stories is about “Chatou, my village west of Paris”. That collection consists mainly of covers, postcards and a few miscellaneous items. The bridge that crosses the Seine and by which you enter Chatou by train or by car is a historic building, as is the distinctive cultural character of the village being the place where famous impresssionist painters and actors from Paris enjoyed themselves in the late 1900.

The bridge looked less romantic at the time of the Civil War in France.

The letter below was sent from Chatou at the time of the French revolution or "the civil war". The date is March 5, 1799, but the letter says year 7. A real revolution takes off from year 1 which corresponds to 1792, the year the monarchy was abolished and the republic created in France. Napoleon abolished the Jacobine calendar in 1804.

My collection of Newspaper Wrappers worldwide from before 1900 is a different ballgame. I collect the bands that you find around newspapers or bro¬chures sent by the post. In choosing the above well defined title I am able to do what many a new stamps collector dreams of doing, but will soon discover is impossible: Collecting the whole world. Here is a beautiful wrapper from Ratzeburg 1861, a part of Denmark at the time.

I come from Haderslev, a marked town in Sønderjylland, Denmark. I know that Slesvig-Holsten’s history is as fascinating as it is complex, which of course marks its postal history as well. From my collection of Slesvig-Holsten I show you a Ladies’ cover sent from Rendsburg to Berlin in 1848. Just before the first Slesvig war from 1849-51.

Dear to me is my collection of the bi-coloured stamps from Denmark and the former Danish West Indies; a series that was in use from 1870 – 1905. I find the colours of these stamps particularly pretty. With a little help from my friends I have learnt to appreciate the challenge of positioning these stamps and to reconstruct panes. The more you know about them, the greater are your chan¬ces in finding real rarities for your collection for small sums of money. I show you a registered cover sent from Copenhagen to Finland in 1877.

The ways that stamps are collected have developed considerably over the years. Traditionally one collected the stamps of a country. Today building a collection over a topic is also popular and the difficulties involved cannot be underestimated. You need to know about the ins and outs of the history the Vikings if you plan to build a stamp collection about them. Postal history will take you to “dead countries” like Biafra and Yugoslavia. You will get acquainted with censor marks and letters from prisoners of war. A registered postcard – in itself unusual – from Ribe to a soldier at Lyon in France is shown below.

Easily combined with a stamp collection are postcards, which have become ever so popular. Here is a postcard showing the Post Office in Sorø as it looked in December 1903.

Note its posing staff and the Mrs. at the balcony. According to a recently published book about the Danish postal Services 1624-1927 Jørgen Christian Pedersen Lind was the Post Master at the time, so he might be the bearded gentleman standing on the balcony.

Internet is a gift to philately. Via the many contacts you get it is possible to create whatever collection you can imagine. The stamps and covers are out there. They just need to be found. You have access to auc¬tions, dealers and collectors worldwide. Try for discussion and,, to discover the diverse supply and “yes!” there are pitfalls. The first forgeries came about already in the 1870’ies and they are also out there. In the philatelic world “knowledge is king”. And where better to get wiser than in a Philatelic Society. I am a member of The Philatelic Society of Malaysia and of Royal Philatelic Society London just to mention a few.

The Universal Postal Union states on its website “Stamp Collecting remains one of the world’s most popular hobbies. As a roving ambassador of the issuing country, the postage stamp offers a glimpse into a country’s cultural, artistic and historical heritage”. I find this a most fitting description

Sunday 4 May 2008

The old letter and it’s seals

Collecting pre-philatelic letters and covers will sooner or later force you to take a good look at the sometimes beautiful wax seals on the back side. I cannot help wondering whether with the help of these seals more information could be retrieved about the sender of the letter and the date of the letter especially when the letter has no sender and no date or no full date ís indicated anywhere on the letter be it inside or outside.

In 1949 an Austrian Baron named Anton Kumpf Mikuli (1879-1968) published a thin book entitled „Der Brief als kulturgeschichtliches Studien- und Sammelobjekt“ (the Letter as an Item for Cultural History Studies and Collecting). This booklet is said to be the basic work on “the letter” and a must for all collectors of classic letters and covers.

The book is a joy to read provided of course that you know some German. It touches in a very thorough way on all subjects that relate to the letter like paper, its watermarks, script, titles and addresses, censorship, postmarks and even the topic of humor and letters and pictures on letters just to mention some of the headings.

Kumpf Mikuli presents the reader with a simple but most intriguing definition of the thrust a letter. "A letter is basically a message to somebody who is absent. If the receiver replies you have a correspondence.”

As you can understand the book itself merits a post of its own, but for now I limit myself to the topic of the wax seal.

Kumpf Mikuli writes about The Sealing of Letters. The seal originally was made of a special kind of soil which in the middle of the 16th century was replaced by wax later to be replaced by the wax seal which was widely used in the 17th and 18 centuries. Around 1700 the first wafers were introduced into which vignettes were pressed. Seal labels are seen already in the second half of the 18th century. Most wax seals were red but black wax seals are not that scarce since they were used on mourning letters. At certain times and in certain countries the colour of the seal was attached to rank: Red for the better off people and yellow for the less fortunate.

The symbol in the seal – which is supposed to be the core topic or rather question of this post – could be initials, names, images, portraits and cotes of arms. Kumpf Mikuli states in this context that the letter seals represent a special branch of the study of heraldry and genealogy.

Here is an easy targit because you can read the text around the symbols: "Hamburg Police Authority". But what do the symbols signify?

I am (only) a stamp collector and a philatelist. I need help from a heraldryst or genealogist.

I'll now show you more of my the seals which all have a connection to Schleswig-Holstein except for the red one in the center which belongs to a cover sent from Roskilde in Denmark to Schleswig Holstein. I would very much like to know more about them. What do they represent? What do the individual symbols represent. For instance the standing horse? The fox or is it a kind of long dog? The coat of arms. Just press the image and you will have a larger one on your screen.

And finally a black one with the text: Royal Rendsburg County House. Again there are symbols and does the colour signify death or mourning? Or was it just the colour of the day?

Saturday 5 April 2008

Fandt ét - søger et anden!

På denne blog efterlyste jeg i november 2007 et dansk grænseportobrev frankeret med 4skilling tofarvet. Det kunne f.eks. være sendt fra Kolding til Haderslev, dvs. mellem byer beliggende på hver sin side men stadig tæt på Kongeå grænsen.

Kommer bjerget ikke til Jeppe så må Jeppe komme til bjerget, sagde Ludvig Holberg. I hvert fald lykkedes det mig for nylig at udfylde hullet i min samling med dette brev:

Brevet er sendt

Saturday 8 March 2008

The Concept of a Newspaper Wrapper

What is a Newspaper Wrapper? Everybody seem to know! But if you have to define a Newspaper Wrapper using words, you end up with the problem of defining an elephant. When you see them, you know them, but describing them precisely and in a non-ambigious way is difficult.

Not wanting to turn this post into a linguistic, philosophical discussion, I will now mention some of the characteristics that I think normally cling to a Newspaper Wrapper:

  • Paper suited to be wrapped around a newspaper or similar object like a band.

  • Open in both sides.

  • Stationery, produced by postal authorities or privately manufactured from a plain piece of paper.

  • Pre-printed postage stamp/postage stamp/pre-philatelic payment.

  • Special cheap postal rate.

    But then, what about the label like pieces of paper stuck on the content? Like this one:

    What about a wrapper the content of which is printed on its inside? Like invitation or stock exchange data. What about the old cross-bands?

    Of course as a collector you decide yourselves what to include in or exclude from your collection. If you want to exhibit your collection this however will be some of the issues that you have to clarify and to draw your red lines.

    What do you think of this description of a Newspaper Wrapper? Come and debate with me.

    Have a nice day


    1. Saturday 1 March 2008

      Denmark 1882/84: Small and large corner figures

      In 1882 Denmark responded to a call from the UPU to issue stamps in colors green, red and blue carrying the rates valid for printed matter to another UPU country, lettercard to another UPU country and a normal letter to another UPU country.

      A green 5 and a blue 20 øre stamp were issued and letter cards with the face value of a red 10 øre. The subject was the same. Coat of arms in a kind of Victorian style. In 1884 the green 5 and the blue 20 øre stamps were reissued in a slightly different design and a red 10 øre stamp was added to the series.

      To collectors of Danish stamps there is an important difference between the stamps issued in 1882 and 1884. The first have small corner figures and the second have large corner figures, the collectors are told by most catalogs.

      Many times I have seen stamps with large corner figures for sale presented as if they have small corner figures. It goes without saying that the first are the rarest and more expensive ones since they were printed in much smaller quantities than the later ones.
      Collectors and dealers are however to some extent excused when mixing up the the two designs. The name "small and large corner figures" points to a difference in design, but if you do not have both types in front of you, what do you do? The difference is there, but it is not for everybody to see, if you cannot compare. Besides small and large are relative terms.

      Luckily there are other differences which are much easier to detect than the diferent sizes of the figures. The most important one is absence of color in a band around the crown. If the color fills out the whole area around the crown it is the 1882 printing, the rarer one. If there is a clear white band or line following the shape of the upper part of the crown it is the 1884 issue. You can hardly miss it if you know where to look. I add a picture of the 1882 issue.

      Take a good look at your Victorian style Danish stamps and report to me if you have problems.

      By the way. The 10 øre red does in fact alsoexist with small corner figures. However this is the result of a conscious printing error. Some clichées were damaged when the 10 øre 1884 issue was printed. As replacement the printers used clichées used for the 1882 letter cards which had small corner figures.

      That means we are talking about isolated clichées in sheets with large corner figures. These 10 øre stamps with small corner figures are of course very rare indeed. Below I show a wonderful pair of 10 øre red: The left stamp is an isolated clichée with small corner figures, the right stamp a normal clichée with large corner figures.

      You see the difference in the corners as well as with regards to the white line around the upper part of the crown?

      Enjoy looking for the different types, including the rare isolated clichées.