Notes from the Past

Netherlands' First Stamps

The Netherlands reorganized its postal system in 1850.  A royal decree in April provided new postage rates and hinted that adhesive postage stamps would be ready by January 1, 1851.  This change was later delayed until January 1, 1852.  The Royal Mint was assigned to produce the stamp.

J. W. Kaiser, Director of the Engraving School of the Royal Academy at Amsterdam, was commissioned to engrave a design showing a left-facing profile of King William III on a steel die.  The die was to have no value engraved.  Jacques Wiener, who had been engaged to superintend the production of the plates, received the finished die.  He hardened the die and made roller impressions of it.  He then produced three duplicate dies which were returned to Kaiser who then added the denominations of 5, 10, and 15 cents.

Wiener then hardened these dies and laid down plates of one hundred impressions in four panes of twenty-five with gutters of 1 cm.  The vertical distance between stamps was 2½ mm; however, the horizontal distance varied between 1½ and 3 mm with an average just over 2 mm.  The stamps were issued imperforate.

The stamps were printed on handmade white wove paper manufactured at the mills of Erven Dirk Bloouv of Wormerveer.  The paper was watermarked with corded posthorns designed to fall on each stamp.  The watermarks of the panes were framed by four lines broken in the center to insert 'Postzegel' (stamp).

The plates were completed in September, 1851, and on October 20 were approved and printing ordered.  The 5, 10, and 15 cent stamps were printed in blue, lake, and orange, respectively.  On December 2 the first orders for stamps were delivered to the Minister of Finance and distribution to post offices begun.  Public issue began on January 1, 1852.

Posted August 5, 2000

Editor's Note:  I have willingly excerpted (almost plagiarized) this from Stamps Day By Day, L. N. and M Williams. Blandford Press Ltd, 1950.

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