World Stamps

The Netherlands uses cutting-edge stamp shapes for moon issue

May 8, 2023, 8 AM

By Molly Goad

The Netherlands PostNL issued a pane of nine unusual-shaped stamps April 21 illustrating a space theme.

This Journey to the Moon pane includes three circular stamps and six stamps with a free-form outline. The stamps feature illustrations of the following subjects: Saturn, an Orion crew capsule, a floating astronaut in a space suit, a satellite with solar cells, a view of Earth from the moon, a Space Launch System (SLS) launcher, an Orion capsule during splashdown with parachutes, a moon boot, and an astronaut walking.

Although it may be a small part of the design on some of the stamps, all nine contain a starry sky illustration that continues onto the pane. Eight of the stamps have a perforation with four teeth; the Moon Boot stamp has five teeth, representing the shoe’s sole.

The Journey to the Moon pane has a spot for a missing 10th stamp. The blank space at the top of the pane symbolizes the moon stamp that PostNL wants to issue when humans set foot on the moon again.

The Artemis program led by NASA aims to land astronauts on the moon again in 2025. The program consists of three missions: the unmanned test flight (end of 2022), the mission to orbit astronauts without landing (planned for 2024), and the mission with the moon landing (planned for 2025).

Graphic designer Lilian Vos of Vividblue created the illustrations for the stamp pane. She visited the permanent space exhibition Space Expo in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, for research and inspiration.

Using the relationship between people and space as a guideline, Vos explored PostNL’s request for an innovative stamp sheet.

“We chose a free form for the stamps,” Vos said. “With one missing stamp that we are still looking forward to: the moon. Where the moon stamp would be there is now a punched hole. This unique idea is designed to make people curious, and it’s something we haven’t seen on a stamp sheet before. …”

The security printer Joh. Enschede produced the stamps by offset. A total of 110,000 panes were printed.

The self-adhesive stamps are nondenominated. The “1” on each stamp shows that it pays the rate for domestic mail weighing up to 20 grams. The pane of nine sells for €9.09 in the Netherlands.

For more information, visit the PostNL website.

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