Sunday, 15 July 2007

Why do I collect …. :The bi-coloured stamps from Denmark and DWI?

I collect the Bicoloured Stamps from Denmark and The Danish West Indies (DWI). Why? Because I find the colours of these stamps to be very pretty, especially the early printings of the series. With a little help from my friends I have also learnt to appreciate the challenge it is to be able to plate these stamps and to reconstruct whole panes. As far as the 4 øre and the 8 øre values are concerned plating them is often the only possible way to decide to which series and what printing they be­long. The more you know about these stamps, the greater are your chan­ces in finding real rarities for your collection without having to pay big sums of money.

I finished my latest post to my blog by encouraging collectors who exhibit or intend to exhibit their collections to tell their story of how they started building their stamp collection and also to tell the story of the collection, which are two different things. I also promised to tell the story be­hind one of my collections in my next post to my blog. Here it is:

The Danish Bicoloured series dating from 1870 – 1905 intrigued me ever since at the age of 6 I started collecting stamps. Being Danish and living in Denmark it was natural for me to collect postage stamps from Denmark and following the widely used AFA catalogue I also made an attempt to identify the few samples I had of the 4 øre blue/gray and 8 øre red/gray. All the other values were not within my reach since they were highly priced, several of them more than 100 Danish Crowns, (5 £ in 1960) and at that time I had no reason to doubt that the catalogues prices were always the right price.

Using a magnifying glass I tried to sensitize my eye to separate stamps with normal and inverted frames and of course thick and thin frames. The latter worked out well, but the former remained a mystery to me for many years, the reason being that I had a picture in the catalogue as my only guide and not one single original stamp with a thick frame like the stamp I show above. In fact I believed I had one, only the catalogue did not register it. Many years later I understood that my “thick frame” was but a stamp printed with a worn down cliché.

But it was the colours that fascinated me the most. However at the same time they caused me a lot of problems. Stamps with the same face value clearly did not look alike but distinctly different. The colour of the frame and the oval varied a lot.

12 – 13 years of age I several times at the public library borrowed the impressive book of G.A. Hagemann from 1941 about the bicoloured is­sues. Haagemann describes the colours in a very delicate and persuasive manner which still today is valued by the specialists.

However the colour descriptions did not lead me to a convincing result and the hardest one to convince is sometimes yourself. I looked for primary and secondary frame errors: alfa, beta and gamma, they were called by Hagemann, but to no avail. I did not understand the basic idea. What was the significance a ”frame group”?

Finally I put the books to a side and began sorting my bicoloured stamps according to how much they looked alike. I benefit from this exercise this very day – approximately 40 years later. It gave me a visual impression which I still remember. What I had not understood at the time was that I needed a lot more stamps in order to make progress along that route.

I acquired my first AFA Special Edition 1966 when I was 16 and again worked tirelessly on separating the printings inspired by a member of the local stamp club. But it wasn’t until as a member of Copenhagen Philatelic Society (KPK) I met collectors who really knew about the mysteries of the bicoloured series and were able to explain them to me that my collection started growing in a structured way.

Today we have the impressive book by Lasse Nielsen in 6 volumes about The Bicoloured Stamps of Denmark. You cannot do without it if you decide to work seriously with these stamps. However, you still need a comprehensive and large material for your studies, and a lot of paitiance in order to learn the special characteristics of the series, and not just the colours. The study group of the KPK on the bicoloured issues will help you. Collectors from all over Denmark and even a very keen and advanced collector from Hamburg, Germany, meet once a year to discuss bicoloured topics. Those interested are welcome.


Velu said...

Nice post. Getting stamps from that time frame must be quite a challange.

Keep up the good work.


Svend said...

Thanks. I will. These stamps are in fact not diffecult to get at at all, especially if you look for 4 and 8 øre which were produced in millions. You can buy them in little bundels. 100 per bundle. One bundle of 8 or 4 øre øre will cost you approx. 15 - 20 us $,. maybe less. Depends whether you look for series with perforation 14 or 12 3/4. The latter is the cheaper one. Thanks for your comment. Cheers Svend

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Anonymous said...

Interesting article, I am trying to identify all the Danish & DWI bi-coloured stamps i have at the moment, I find it extremely difficult. If you don't mind me asking, how can you tell which printing the stamp is from ?, and is it easy to distinguish between the thin & thick paper varieties ?, what is the difference in thickness ?
Would appreciate any help.
Have been trying to find a copy of the six volume series of books by Nielsen, very hard to come by.