World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

Stamps from the Netherlands, Switzerland promote letter writing

September 11, 2015 11:41 AM

  • A pane of stamps from the Netherlands depicts famous people and excerpts from their letters, including a letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother.
  • New definitives from Switzerland show a rose, a snail, a ladybug (also called ladybird), and a feather, along with names representing the country’s four language regions. The four stamps were issued Aug. 27.

By Denise McCarty

To encourage the writing of letters, the Netherlands issued a pane of 10 stamps Aug. 17 featuring famous people known for their personal letters.

The Royal Library helped the Netherlands’ postal administration, PostNL, in the selection of these letter writers: artists Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh; poet Leo Vroman; mathematician and scientist Christiaan Huygens; and priest, philosopher and humanist Desiderius Erasmus.

Arthur Herrman and Robin Sluijs of the design agency Kummer & Herrman designed the stamps.

Ludo Voorn, marketing director of PostNL, said of their designs: “This postage stamp sheet illustrates the rich history of letter writing in the Netherlands. The stamps show fragments from the letters by these five illustrious Dutchmen, along with the subjects they were working on at that moment.

“People still send letters to discuss important moments in their lives, and the new stamp sheet is meant as a source of inspiration.”

Labels se-tenant with the stamps provide more information about the letter writers and their letters.

The labels in the selvage on the left give the birth and death dates of the person and a brief description. In the case of Van Gogh (1853-90), the description is only one word, “kunstschilder,” which translates to painter.

According to the label on the right side of the pane, the quote is from a letter to his brother Theo van Gogh, which has been classified by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as letter No. 592. Translated into English, this letter begins, “My dear Theo, I’m in a fury of work as the trees are in blossom and I wanted to do a Provence orchard of tremendous gaiety. … ”

Joh. Enschede printed the stamps by offset. They are all nondenominated, paying the basic domestic letter rate.

Switzerland

Swiss Post issued four new definitive stamps Aug. 27 to replace the Woodcuttings of Nature Scenes by Franz Gertsch definitives issued Sept. 6, 2012 (Scott 1463-1465).

Julia Reichle and Martina Pelosi won a competition to design these new definitives.

In an interview in Swiss Post’s publication Focus on Stamps, the pair explained what their designs represent: “The ladybird and the rose symbolize good wishes and congratulations, while the snail and the quill are symbols of affinity and sympathy. They are primal elements from nature that warm our hearts.”

Each design also includes handwritten examples of people’s names, which, according to Reichle and Pelosi, signify “the good old letter post.”

The names also represent the four language regions of Switzerland: German, French Italian and Romansh.

Joh. Enschede printed the self-adhesive definitive stamps in panes of 10.