20 October 2016

A unique 20 öre stamp

The 20 öre green blue/orange Posthorn from 1965 is a beautiful stamp. It is also pretty unique in some ways. First of all it was the first Swedish two-coloured steel engraved stamp. It was the new three-tone steel-engraving rotary press from Goebel AG in Germany delivered at the end of 1964 that made this possible. It also was unique in the way that it has the year of issue printed between the initials of the artist and the engraver. That was a mistake actually. Beginning  in 1963 the year-of-issue was printed on non-definitive stamps, i.e. commemorative stamps. The Posthorn is the only definitive stamp that has the year printed. The stamp to the left on the parcel address card below is the 20 öre Posthorn.

Domestic Parcel 6 kg; fee: 7 kr.
1965, 17 May. 20 öre green blue/orange Posthorn. Qty: 28,200,000.
1967, 16 October. 30 öre red-orange/blue Outer Archipelago of Stockholm. Qty: 184,000,000.
1967, 12 January. 2.80 kr orange-red Three Crowns. Qty: 15,000,000.
1967, 15 February. 3.70 kr violet The Lion Fortress. Qty: 16,000,000.

This parcel address card makes me a little bit excited. It displays very well the changes in Swedish stamp design that occurred in the mid sixties. I think that maybe the 20 öre Posthorn was meant to be the first in a series of definitive stamps, just like the New Numeral Type it was intended to replace. Considering the design it would have been well suited for that, adding new denominations over time. That did not happen. The thing that happened was that Swedish Post got a new Director-General in 1965, the distinguished civil servant Mr. Nils Hörjel. The task given by the Swedish Government was to rapidly modernize the Swedish Post and make it more effective and profitable. He did and he also on the fly modernized the conservative Swedish stamp issuing policy.

Instead the Posthorn became the first of a long line of single series definitive stamps. Before Mr. Hörjel the definitive series had traditional motifs like the king, the denomination value itself or Swedish symbols. The definitive series at the time consisted of Gustaf VI Adolf type III, Three Crowns, Rock Carvings and New Numeral Type. They used to be stretched over decades and consisted of many stamps (of the same motif) and of course of many different denominations. No more from now on. Mr. Hörjel increased the number of stamps issued, both commemorative and definitive ones, and he granted single stamps series of definitive stamps. One effect was that the definitive stamp series got a much shorter lifespan and at the end there were more stamps to collect.

The next stamp is the 30 öre Outer Archipelago of Stockholm and belongs to the series called Definitive Stamps, a series of  stamps with different motifs and different denomination. There were four motifs in that series from 1967. If the old policy would have still been in place that stamp would maybe rather have been a 30 öre Posthorn.

The third stamp from the left is the 2.80 kr Three Crowns and represent the old policy. The Three Crowns was the longest running stamp series with 34 stamps in almost 30 years. The 2.80 kr was the next to the last issue of the Three Crowns.

Finally to the right the 3.70 kr Lion Fortress. One of these new stamps representing the big change in stamp issuing policy. A single definitive stamp with a unique motif. It was aimed for for covering the rate for domestic parcels, 1 - 3 kg, it did that well until January 1969 when it was discontinued. If the old policy would have still been in place that stamp would instead maybe have been a 3.70 kr Three Crowns. Who knows?


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