The Christmas Stamp That Combats Disease

The 2016 U.S. Christmas Seal.

Christmas seals are not postage stamps. They are what is known in the hobby as cinderellas items that look like postage stamps, but aren’t valid for postage. Christmas seals have a familiar look and interesting history, so they are used and collected much like Christmas stamps. In fact, the Christmas Seal & Charity Stamp Society (www.seal-society.org) is an affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.

Actor-singer Frank Sinatra promoted the 1963 U.S. Christmas seal. (Image courtesy of National Postal Museum).

Christmas seals are often placed on mail during the Christmas season. The sale of the stamps is raises money and awareness for various charitable programs. Initially they were associated with lung diseases such as tuberculosis, but now have grown internationally to include various aspects of child welfare.

The world’s first Christmas seals were created in 1904 in Denmark. The Danish queen, Louise of Hesse-Kassel, is pictured.

In 1904, Danish postal clerk Einar Holbøll developed the idea of adding an extra charitable stamp or label on holiday Christmas mail. Holbøll’s idea eventually was approved by the Danish postmaster and the king of Denmark, and in 1904 the world’s first Christmas seal was issued, bearing the likeness of the Danish queen and the word “Julen,” the Danish word for Christmas. More than 4 million seals were sold in Denmark in the first year alone.

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Two Changes Coming for Danish and Swedish Stamps

Swedish Northern Lights stamps issued in November with marginal markings of color circles and a plate number.
Swedish Northern Lights stamps issued in November with marginal markings of color circles and a plate number.

The APS recently received an e-mail from Bo Overgaard-Hoeifeldt, Head of Sales and Marketing for PostNord Stamps, about upcoming changes related to Danish and Swedish stamps affecting stamp soaking and special markings.

“As always, when it comes to the philatelic part of our business, changes in production and postal use of our stamps are always reflected directly in our philatelic products,” said Overgaard-Hoeifeldt.

“The changes are expected to take place within the first half of 2017 when Cartor/Walsall Security Printers (WSP) will print the first stamps for us. As soon as I know which issue will be the first I will inform you. The reason for this uncertainty is, that we try to print as much as possible at our existing print house in Stockholm simply to use all the raw materials we already have in stock there,” said Overgaard-Hoeifeldt.

The changes noted by PostNord specifically included the following for stamp soaking:
“It will no longer be possible to remove the stamps from envelopes and postcards. This change is introduced to reduce fraud, where stamps are being reused. This change is only related to self adhesive stamps — until further notice our minisheet will be printed on gummed paper and thus they will still be removable after soaking.”

And this in regards to special markings:
“There will no more be special markings on sheets and rolls (cylinder numbers, colour markings etc.). This change is made simply because these features are not needed at Cartor/WSP’s production.”

Cartor Security Printing to Produce Stamps for Denmark and Sweden

Norica’s PostNord has signed an agreement with Cartor Security Printing for the production of Swedish and Danish stamps. The design of stamps will continue to be conducted within PostNord.

Running, road bicycling, off-road biking, swimming, and athletic equipment appear Denmark’s set of Popular Sports stamps issued earlier this year.
Running, road bicycling, off-road biking, swimming, and athletic equipment appear Denmark’s set of Popular Sports stamps issued earlier this year.

The agreement is a way for PostNord to adapt to a changing market and to create better conditions for developing stamp production, said Britt-Inger Hahne, head of PostNord Stamps.

During 2017, the production of the Danish and Swedish stamps will gradually be transferred to Cartor Security Printing, a global value printing house that specializes in stamps. The businesses are located in France and England, and the printing house delivers to postal operators and other customers worldwide.

Among Cartor Security Printing’s many stamp clients are Royal Mail and the Channel Islands, Austria, Portugal, and Singapore.