World Stamps

Iceland’s 2014 Europa stamps printed on different papers

May 1, 2021, 12 PM

Iceland issued two self-adhesive Europa stamps March 27. However, one is soakable, while the other is not, and design errors are to blame.

Iceland Post’s philatelic office, Postphil, explained what happened in a press release dated June 11.

The stamp in Figure 1 pictures a stone harp, in keeping with the 2014 Europa theme of musical instruments. This instrument was created in 2001 by artist Pall Gudmundsson.

Before the stamp was issued, two errors were discovered: the Europa emblem was missing from the upper left, and the “2014” year date at lower left also was omitted.

Security printer Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands was asked to correct the mistakes and print the stamp again.

Iceland Post destroyed the faulty stamps and issued the stamps from the second printing on March 27.

Released at the same time was the stamp shown in Figure 2. It depicts another new instrument, the electromagnetic harp. Artist Ulfur Hansson received an innovation award from the president of Iceland in 2013 for this musical creation.

Although there were no errors in this stamp’s design, it was soon discovered that it was not soakable. This is despite the fact that Iceland Post has commissioned all of its self-adhesive stamps to be printed on paper with water-soluble adhesive coating.

Postphil reports that it was almost impossible to remove the adhesive from the Electromagnetic Harp stamp even after soaking it for “a very long time.”

Iceland Post immediately contacted Joh. Enschede again to find out what was wrong.

According to the press release, the printing house admitted responsibility for the mistake and confirmed that both Europa stamps originally were printed on paper without the water-soluble coating.

However, during the second printing of the Stone Harp stamp, the proper paper with water-soluble adhesive coating was used.

This resulted in the two Europa stamps being printed on two different papers, one that is soakable and one that is not.

Postphil ended the press release: “Of course, we deeply regret this unfortunate mistake on the part of the printing house. The error lied in the delivery of the wrong paper stock from the paper manufacturer to the printing house.

“Yet the point now is not so much to find the origin of the mistake, as there can be no compensation; the stamps have been issued, and will not be reprinted on adhesive stamp paper with water-soluble adhesive coating.

“What is important to us at Iceland Post, though, is the fact that such a mistake was made, and we very much regret that our customers had to suffer the consequences.”

The two stamps are nondenominated, paying the rate for mail weighing up to 50 grams to other European countries. They were printed in panes of 10.

The website of Iceland Post’s Postphil is The mailing address is Iceland Post, Postphil Storhofdi 29, IS-110, Reykjavik, Iceland.

The new-issue agent in the United States is Nordica, Box 284, Old Bethpage, NY 11804; e-mail