I Øverste Højre Hjørne: Danske Frimærker i 150 År (In the Upper Right Corner: 150 Years of Danish Stamps). 7 by 10 inches, 156 pages, hardbound, in Danish with English summaries, Post Denmark, Copenhagen 2001. ISBN 87-89299-35-3, 350 DKr (approx. $60) from Post Danmark A/S, Telegrafvej 7, 2750 Ballerup, Denmark.

 

            As the 150th anniversary of the introduction of postage stamps and uniform postal rates is reached in several Scandinavian countries, the occasion is marked with new books. Anne Katrine Lund opens this new Danish book by pointing out that letters are still thoughtful and traditional means of communication even though they have been supplanted to a large extent with emails by the younger generation.

            Anders Monrad Møller tells how the first Danish stamp was introduced in 1851 and bears a design derived from the 4-skilling coin of the time. He points out that the Danish coat of arms and the country’s reigning monarchs spawned designs of many of Denmark’s stamp issues. Ejner Johansson relates how the court engraver Martinus William Ferslew came to design, engrave, and print the country’s first stamps.

            Steen Ejlers focuses on the evolution of stamp designs in Denmark, especially as steel engraving yielded to offset printing to some extent. Danish stamp and currency engraver Arne Kuhlmann writes about the importance of steel engraved stamps which Denmark continues to provide along with those of more modern printing techniques.

            Birgitte Wistoft describes the roles of four people who were responsible for the issuance of Denmark’s first stamp, and whose portraits appear on a set of four values released in 2001 to mark the 150th anniversary. Magrius Otto Sophus  Danneskjold-Sansøe was the country’s Postmaster General when the concept of cheap uniform and prepaid postage was introduced. Frantz Christopher von Jessen was the Copenhagen Postmaster who published a book outlining postal improvements in 1839, and who later proposed the bill concerning postal reforms that was approved in 1851.

            Martinus William Ferslew’s life accomplishments, lasting up to his important role in producing Denmark’s first stamp are summarized. The fourth key player in the story of the first stamp issue is Andreas Jeppe Schmidt Thiele, the printer who had already been involved with printing banknotes.

            Tipped into this book are printings of engraver Martin Mörck’s portraits of these four gentlemen plus a block of the four completed stamps issued by Denmark for the 150th anniversary. In the concluding chapter, well known philatelic author Ib Eichner-Larsen tells how stamp collecting began within twenty years of the issuance of the world’s first postage stamp in Great Britain. One of the first stamp shops opened in Denmark in 1861 and the first club there was established in 1867. The introduction of stamp collector journals soon followed. Stamp collecting is still a popular pastime in Denmark as well as the world over.

            Excellent illustrations appear throughout the book and a table lists their sources. The book would have benefited with an index. In any case, it stands as a nicely informative souvenir of the origins of stamps in Denmark.

 

Alan Warren