Sweden scores with stamp set for Ibrahimovic

One of five colorful stamps celebrating Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Sweden Post will issue the set March 27.

Sweden’s new 100kr stamp honoring poet and musician Carl Michael Bellman includes a number of security features.

By Michael Baadke

Anyone with a passing interest in international soccer has heard the name: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The captain of Sweden’s national soccer team and the relentless striker of the Ligue 1 professional club Paris Saint-Germain is featured on a new set of five stamps from Sweden Post.

The bold designs show photographs of Ibrahimovic in action on four stamps, with a close-up pose of the athlete smiling on the fifth. The backgrounds are nearly fluorescent gradient colors ranging from yellow to blue on some of the designs and yellow to red on others.

Each stamp is inscribed “Brev” to indicate that it fulfills the domestic letter rate, currently 6 kroner for mail weighing no more than 20 grams (roughly 0.7 ounces).

Calling him “Sweden’s greatest soccer player of all time,” Sweden Post claims that people have been requesting a stamp depicting Ibrahimovic “for a long time.”

The 32-year-old sports star was born Oct. 3, 1981, in Malmo, Sweden. Since joining the Malmo FF team in 1999, Ibrahimovic has played for several top professional soccer teams, including Barcelona and A.C. Milan, before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.

The Barcelona team won both the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 2009.

As a member of Sweden’s national team in 2012, Ibrahimovic scored all four goals in a 4-2 victory over England, including the final, a stunning bicycle kick executed with his back to the goal from 35 yards out.

“It is a huge honor to be on a stamp, and I am very happy and proud that I have been chosen,” said Ibrahimovic. “I mainly only receive bills, and they seldom come with nice stamps. Maybe things will be different now.”

The offset-printed self-adhesive stamps were designed by Nina Ulmaha using photographs from various sources. The set will be issued in a booklet of 10.

Also on March 27, Sweden will issue a new 100kr coil stamp outfitted with a number of security features.

The stamp honors Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795), a lyric poet and musician who has been compared to Shakespeare for his contributions to Swedish literature.

Bellman has been featured three times previously on Swedish stamps. An engraved set with a portrait of the writer was issued in 1940 (Scott 310-12), a set of six stamps was issued in 1990 (1831-1836), and a single coil stamp was issued in 2006 (2538).

The detailed design of the new 100kr stamp is by Beata Boucht and engraved by Lars Sjooblom. It is printed by a combination of offset and intaglio (recess).

The stamp shows a large number of subjects throughout the design, which Sweden Post reports is inspired by Bellman’s writing.

In the center of the stamp is a portrait of Bellman modeled after a 1779 painting by Swedish artist Per Krafft (1724-93). Bellman is shown playing the cittern, a renaissance stringed instrument similar to a guitar.

He is surrounded by various objects, including wine glasses and a tavern, a vine with grapes, a cherub leaning against a barrel and drinking, butterflies and a caterpillar, a horn and a violin, musical notation, and a lake with a sailboat, a rowboat and a fish.

A small banner along the bottom of the design includes microprinting, one of the stamp’s three security measures cited by Sweden Post.

Also noted are: “A special metallic paint used during the printing process makes forgery difficult and at the same time adds an exciting design effect,” and “To prevent the stamp from being re-used, it cannot be removed once it has been adhered.”

These elements are in place in part because of the high face value of the stamp: 100kr is roughly equivalent to $15.65.

“Stamps with denominations for heavier parcels are an important part of Sweden Post’s offer for the expanding e-commerce market,” the postal authority notes in its Bulletin, a stamp news journal.

Sweden Post’s retail stamp site is online at www.posten.se/en/shop; or write to Posten Stamps, Customer Service, SE-981 84 Kiruna, Sweden.

The new-issue agent is the Sweden Stamp Agency in North America (Unicover World Trade Corp.), 1 Unicover Center, Cheyenne, WY 82008-0008.

Published 3/14/2014 11:57 AM