An introduction to the stamps of Scandinavia


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18 February 2020
The Nordic area is a treasure trove for stamp collectors, writes Christer Brunstrom, as he provides an introduction to collecting the stamps of Scandinavia

For more than a thousand years, ties between the Nordic countries and the British Isles have been very strong. Vikings from Denmark settled in Britain and founded cities like York.

People in Sweden, Denmark and Norway speak basically the same language but when it comes to conversations involving people from Finland or Iceland English serves as a lingua franca. In fact, UK visitors to the Nordic countries will soon discover that they don’t need to learn any of the local languages. Finland and Greenland are bilingual countries which is reflected on their stamps. Finnish stamps are inscribed SUOMI (Finnish) and FINLAND (Swedish).

All the Nordic nations with the exception of Greenland share the same style of flag which includes a cross. The Danish flag is one of the world’s oldest and rather amazingly it came down from heaven in 1219 and in Estonia of all places. National flags have been featured on numerous Nordic stamps.

The Nordic postal administrations are known for their innovations. Already in the 1920s, Sweden more or less abandoned the sheet format preferring to release its stamps in coils or as booklets of 10 resulting in stamps perforated on two or three sides. Most recent issues from the Nordic nations are forever stamps with no value indicated.

Recess printing was long the hallmark of Swedish and Danish stamp issues. Court engraver Czeslaw Slania engraved more than 1000 designs for Sweden and other countries. Today talented engravers like Norwegian Martin Mörck carry on the tradition.

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In recent years Finland has excelled in producing very creative stamp designs stunning the world in 2014 with a homoerotic issue celebrating the work of artist Tom of Finland.

A collection of the stamps of Sweden, Finland, Iceland and the other nations will tell a lot about all facets of life in the Nordic area.

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Don't miss the March 2020 issue of Stamp Collector with a comprehensive guide to Scandinavian stamps!