Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Postmarks (2)

In the previous post about Dutch postmarks I showed you a number of these government or Post Office sponsored messages. Usually the idea behind them is to draw attention to a certain subject or to trigger some reaction. In Dutch these stamps are called 'flag stamps' (vlagstempels).
September 7, 1939: Adresseer volledig
The text on this first stamp intends to stimulate writers to mention the full address on their correspondence. This sounds silly but it wasn't. When people wrote a letter to someone in the same city or village, many were accustomed to write a persons' name and street but in stead of mentioning the city name, they said ' City'  or 'Local'. That may seem rather odd but in those days it was not unusual that your social circle did not extend beyond the borders of the place where you lived. And when such a letter erroneously ended up in the wrong mail bag...
September 23, 1939: Goedkoope brief-telegrammen
This one intended to promote the use of discounted letter-telegrams. Apparently this was a Post Office product different from the normal telegram, possibly an extended and/or cheaper version thereof.
October 21, 1939: Postzegels-rechts boven in den hoek Vlugger verzending
The cancellation stamp says: "Stamps in the upper right hand corner! Faster shipping". The idea behind this text was explained in the previous post. The difference with this one is the lay out of the message.
October 25, 1939: Post Uw brieven zoodra ze gereed zijn!
'Mail your letters as soon as they are ready!'  I wonder why people needed to be encouraged to do so. Who would benefit by not yet mailing them? Certainly not the addressee!
August 29, 1941 Elke bosch- of heidebrand is verlies voor stad en land
In an effort to raise the awareness that the use of open fire outside can be dangerous, this stamp says that 'any forest or heath fire is a loss for town and country'. I am not aware of any particular reason why this stamp was issued. Possibly it was caused by heat waves in June and July 1941. Temperatures over 33º Centigrade (91º Fahrenheit) were no exception.
February 12, 1942: Ook straatnaam en huisnummer in het adres Adresseer volledig
Apparently it was still necessary to ask senders to mention 'Also street name and number in the address Address in full'. Addressing a letter to John Doe, Rotterdam obviously creates unnecessary extra work for the Post Office people. 
November 13, 1942: WHN Loterij 1942 Uw kans 1 op 3
The letters WHN in this 'WHN lottery 1942 Your chance 1 in 3'-stamp require some explanation. WHN stands for 'Winterhulp Nederland' a nazi-organisation aiming at helping the poor and the needy among the Dutch population during WW2. The idea was that this structure would replace all government, church and other aid programs. 
According to the nazi doctrine poverty did not exist except maybe during wintertime. Hence the name 'Winterhelp'. 
WHN obtained its revenue from money collections, organizing lotteries and a kind of profit tax imposed on businesses (5%). Also employees had to pay a tax of 1% levied on wages. Obviously WHN was not very popular the lotteries excepted. Apparently the population liked to gamble now and then even when the proceeds benefit an organization such as WHN. 
Initially also needy Jews were eligible to be helped. But that support ended soon...
In case you wonder why a pig is portrayed in the stamp, the following may serve. I found this explanation here (it is in Dutch). The English word 'swine' comes very close to its German equivalent 'Schwein'. 'Schweinen' in German means 'to be lucky'.  Hence the use of a swine in conjunction with a lottery.

All these stamps come from cards and letters my Mother gave me some time ago. They all go back to the 30s and 40s of the previous century.  I still have some nine stamps left and I'll share those in the next (and last) post on this subject. The original envelopes with these stamps are still intact. There is so much to be learned from an envelope!
To be continued


  1. How enlightening. I never pay much attention to stamps or cancellation markings. Now I'm wondering whether our mail has such public service announcements.

  2. A pig is a real ‘lucky’ item, like horse shoes and chimney sweepers. I’ve found some pigs on old New Years postcard.

  3. This has been an eye-opener. Like Wendy I've not paid much attention before to these stamps. I will look with renewed interest in the future.

  4. @Wendy, @Little Nell
    I know for a fact that they exist in the UK and I would be very surprised if that would be different in the States. If you google the word 'postmark'...
    Never saw these on New Year cards but it doesn't surprise me.

    Thanks for your comments & visit!


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