16 May 2015

When the warship Wasa became a definitive stamp series

Man-of-war Wasa F.D.C.

The warship Wasa is a pride of Sweden. This magnificent warship sunk unexpectedly at the very beginning of her maiden voyage in August 1628. The reason she sunk was that in those days they had not yet figured out completely the mathematics to build stable ships. They just use some rule of thumb calculations that were well proven. In this case the Swedish King Gustaf II Adolf demanded in the last minute an additional deck with canons for his flagship and those canons affected the center of gravity in a less favourable way, one might say . . . Well, the ship sunk in the harbour of Stockholm and soon it was forgotten where. The ship wreck was eventually found in 1956, she was salvage in 1961 and renovated for decades. Now one can admire her beauty in a museum in Stockholm not far from where she sunk.

The 225th Swedish Post booklet was issued 1969, 10 August.
55 öre red Hercules head. Qty: 11,400,000
55 öre brown Lion head . Qty: 11,400,00
55 öre blue National coat of arms. Qty: 5,700,000
55 öre blue Wasa warship. Qty: 5,700,000
55 öre brown Lion mask. Qty: 11,400,000
55 öre red Male head. Qty: 5,700,000
Single use domestic letter  - 20 g.

If the old stamp issuing policy of the Swedish Post that was in effect for decades The Wasa booklet would have been a commemorative series and issued on 10 August 1968. That did not happen. The issuing policy changed pretty drastically in the mid 60's when the new Director General Nils Hörjel started to reform the Swedish Post. He was mostly focusing on how the Swedish Post would become more effective and profitable, but also the stamps were affected, especially from 1967 and onward.

The Wasa booklet was not even released the 10th of August, just an ordinary Wednesday in September. In the old times there was basically three kind of stamps issued, definitive stamps, commemorative stamps and special stamps for international purposes (like UPU, UN or CEPT stamps). One change in the mid 60s is that stamps were now also issued to promote Sweden and especially tourism. The idea behind the Wasa booklet was actually to promote tourism and the newly opened Wasa museum, not a jubilee. Five years earlier that would have been unthinkable. Wasa would for sure have been a commemorative stamp series.

Here is the English version of the text card that came along with the F.D.C., the information was also printed in Swedish, German and of course in  French, which still was the official language of postal administrations.

The stamps are beautiful. The designer and engraver was the master himself Czeslaw Slania. Clean design, a lot of details and he has really capture the feeling of wooden sculpture. This is a master piece. The two large stamps are one of the largest stamps issued in the 60's.

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of First Day Covers, especially if they have not been distributed in the mail as letter covers. The letter cover above has no address and was delivered to its first owner in an envelope. The only thing I like with F.D.C.s is if the text card is still there. The Swedish Post started to print cards with information about the stamps in the 40s (maybe in the 30s even?) and they might be interesting to read.

In the card above the Swedish Post announces that the stamps are ordinary stamps, which means definitive stamps. The Swedish Post sometimes uses the word definitive or ordinary. Another way of identifying a Swedish definitive stamps from the era is that definitive stamps do not have the year of issue printed below the motif.

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