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Postpakketverrekenzegels: What is this about?

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Postpakketzegel-11-cnt-15-cntRecently somebody asked me if I knew anything about two Dutch “te betalen / port” (postage (due) to be paid) stamps. The stamps in question are the 11 and 15 cent overprints shown below.
Intuitively the first place to look for these stamps would be in a Dutch stamp catalogue and then under the subject ‘Portzegels’.

 

Under 1924 you’ll see a similar stamp, it is one of a set of four such overprints mentioned. They are 4, 5, 10, and 12 ½ cent overprints. Two of these, the 4 cent and 12 ½ cent denominations were overprinted on copies of the 1899 -1921 fur collar issue, the 4 cent over the 3 cent olive green and the 12 ½ cent over the 5 cent red.

No mention of the 11 and 15 cent denominations. Why would that be?
I did the usual Google search on the Internet, but since most of the older Dutch philatelic literature is not scanned in (yet, I hope), not much was found.

Next I contacted the ASNP Librarian, Paul Swierstra, asking him to see if he could find any information about these stamps. Within three days I found a nice envelope in my mailbox with an index of everything he had found, plus copies of those finds.

Since the 11 cent overprinted had the 22 ½ cent fur collar issue as its base and the 15 cent overprints the 17 ½ cent fur collar issue let’s look at the usage of these two denominations.

It turns out that we have to go back to 1921 for the reason the overprinted stamps came about. As per March 1, 1921 there was no use for single 17 ½ cent stamps any more. Up to then 17 ½ cents was the rate for a letter of the second weight class (20 to 40 grams) to Belgium. On 3-1-1921 this was changed to 25 cents. However, the 17 ½ stamps were not taken out of circulation because 35 cents ( 2 x 17 ½) was the charge for a registered letter to a foreign country (20 cents plus 15 cents registration surcharge). As per 1-1-1922 no more 17 ½ cent stamps were produced by the P.T.T. (at the time the Dutch postal organisation), but of course there remained quite a few around.

The 22 ½ cent fur collar issue, from 11-1-1919 till 3-1-1921, could be used for express letters within the Netherlands, but after that it lost its purpose.

Thus the PTT ended up with unsold stamps and the Dutch, being frugal people, did not want to destroy these ‘left overs’. They were used as a base for red 10 cent overprints as shown here. This however, did not take care of all the surplus stamps, so in 1924 it was decided that when new postage due stamps were needed they would again use these

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(and some other) surplus stamps. Thus, the postage due overprints of 1924 were created. However, the PTT noticed that for the 11 and 15 cent overprints the supply was somewhat limited compared to the other denominations. To avoid undesirable speculation with these stamps, the PTT decided to use them ‘internally’. They were only used at post offices in Amsterdam, ‘s Gravenhage (The Hague) and Rotterdam and then only to be used on form Model 88, which accompanied returned or forwarded packages. These forms remained the property of the PTT so it

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assured them that they controlled the destiny of these stamps.

Not much was known about this new set of two overprinted stamps, not even among most of the PTT staff employed at the three post offices mentioned.

This all changed drastically on October 29, 1925, when cancelled versions of the 11 and 15 cent ‘postage due’ stamps were auctioned off by the PTT. This was the first the general public (including stamp collectors) knew about these stamps. The Bond (organisation of Dutch stamp collectors) asked for a clarification from PTT. The Bond recommended that its members should

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not buy these stamps (in 1926 this recommendation was retracted), and also not to describe these stamps as ‘postage due’ stamps. Below is a copy of the recommendation message issued by the Bond, entitled “Important Message”.

The PTT’s response was printed in the Maandblad voor Philatelie (monthly philatelic news sheet) of December 16, 1925, outlining the history of these stamp as described above.

The Bond had objected to calling these stamps ‘postage due stamps’ since their use was solely for returning or forwarding postal packages. The Bond came up with the name “postpakketverrekenzegels”, a typically long Dutch word, made up of three parts: pakket=package, verreken=to be paid, and zegel=stamp. It’s hard to come up with a one-word English name for these stamps.

Since the Bond is in control of the Dutch stamp catalogue, these stamps are found under ‘Postpakketverrekenzegels’ and not under ‘portzegels’. Over the years several prominent stamp collectors have suggested putting these stamps onder the “Portzegels” chapter of the catalogue but, so far, this hasn’t happened. Traditions are hard to break!

As mentioned, these stamps were auctioned off by the PTT, but only as used and cut out copies from the Model 88 forms. However, in the “Nederlandsche Postzegel & Muntenveiling” ( Dutch stamp and coin auction) of March 28, 29 and 31, 2008, the unique item (shown below) was auctioned off. It is the only known cover with a complete set of the Postpakketverrekenzegels on it. It was sold for €3,600. It is a complete cover, franked with 74½ cents, made up of ‘postverreken’ stamps of 11 cents (5x), and 15 cents, plus postage due stamps of 4½ cents; cancelled ‘s Gravenhage P.P. Zaanstraat 12-8-1924 (this would be December 8, 1924 in U.S terminology).

Please note that the only legitimate cancellations on these stamps are:

Amsterdam Pakketpost 6
‘s Gravenhage P.P. Zaanstraat 3 (P.P = PakketPost)
Rotterdam Pakketpost 1.

The dates of the

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cancellations can only be 1924 or 1925, not 1923 and 1924 as the NVPH catalogue indicates. The 2011 NVPH catalogue on page 343 lists these stamps as PV 1 (11 cents) , and PV2 (15 cents). They are known with four different perforations: Comb Perf 12½, Line Per 11½ x 11, and Line Perf 11½

Quantities printed:
11 cents 66,300
15 cents 25,300

Catalogue Prices:
11 cent lists as €4.50 used), €2,250 (mint)
15 cent lists as €60 (used), €20,000 (!) (mint)

As mentioned, these stamps were auctioned for the first time in 1925, but many other auctions followed and it is estimated that the number of examples sold at auction now totals:
11 CNT between 15,660 and 16,400
15 CNT between 4,700 and 3,900

These numbers fall far short of the NVPH-listed numbers. Question: Where did they all go?

Please Note: If you look in the 2009 Scott catalogue, you’ll read the following on page 1261 under the heading ‘Netherlands Postage Due Stamps’: The 11c on 22½ c and 15c on 17½ c exist. These were used by the postal service for accounting of parcelpost fees.

Refs:

American Society for Netherlands Philately Library

Various notes in Philatelie, 1925, 1926

J. Dekker, Hoe twee portzegels in de ban werden gedaan, Philatelie, October 1975, pages 528-532, also How Two Postage Due Stamps Were ‘Excommunicated’, ASNP Magazine Vol. 01/3, March 1976 (same article, but translated)

Handboek Postwaarden Nederland, Section A9, Johan. Enschedé

L. Goldhoorn, De Portzegels van 11 en 15 CNT, De Postzak # 119 (pages 18, 19) and #120 (pages 55, 56) , PO&PO, 1977

Mr. A. van der Flier, Postpakketverrekenzegels, Filatelie van A to Z, pages 84,85, Cantecleer, De Bilt, 1994

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