Den gula ankungen, Sven Olof Forselius, 6 by 9 inches, sewn, hardbound, 170 pages, in Swedish, Santérus förlag, Stockholm 2003, ISBN 91-89449-55-x. 255 SEK (approximately $35 postpaid) from Santérus förlag, Grevgatan 20, 11453 Stockholm, Sweden.

 

The title means “The Yellow Duckling” and is a play on the Hans Christian Andersen story “Den fula Ankungen” or The Ugly Duckling. This book is the complete story of Sweden’s most famous stamp, the unique 3-skilling yellow error, and in fact has the subtitle, “The Story of Sweden’s most expensive stamp.” The author begins by describing the early stamps of Sweden and the correct colors of the different skilling values, and then mentions how the color error probably occurred.

            The story continues with the finding of the stamp by a schoolboy George Wilhelm Backman who then sold it to the dealer Heinrich Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein later sold the stamp and it eventually was acquired by the great collector Phillipe von Ferrari. Forselius traces the stamp’s travels to several Swedish collectors and its examination by expert committees. The author is quite familiar with this famous stamp as he was Managing Director of Frimärkshuset under whose auspices the stamp was exhibited at Stockholmia 74.

            The legitimacy of the 3-skilling yellow error has been questioned by many. In fact a committee of experts in the 1970s declared it a forgery. However, subsequent scientific measurements attested to its genuineness. Forselius not only traces in detail the movement of the stamp through its various owners, but also gives the reader some sidebar observations such as the work of Sperati and Fournier who created counterfeit stamps.

            Danish dealer Thomas Høiland arranged the sale to the current owner, and the two of them arranged for the famous stamp to be shown at the NORDIA 2001 exhibition in Tucson AZ that year. Forselius’ book goes well beyond the earlier account of Sven Åhman and brings readers up to date. The work concludes with a calendar of events in the history of the stamp. On a minor note, the book lacks an index. However, readers are rewarded with a fascinating tale told with great personal interest by the author.

 

Alan Warren