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19th century stamp shop window

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Just inside the entrance of PostBeeld’s shop in Haarlem is a recreation of a 19th century stamp shop window display. It contains a collection of old philatelic literature and accessories. It is also the private collection of PostBeeld owner Rob Smit.

Rob explains:

The oldest stamp album from my collection dates from 1863.


The first postage stamp was issued in 1840, and in the second half of the 19th Century the number of collectors of those little coloured pieces of printed paper grew rapidly, and with it the trade in stamps.

In big cities like London, Paris and Brussels several stamp traders had established themselves. One of the first traders in Paris was Justin Lallier (1823-1873), who came up with the idea of producing something that stamp collectors use to this day.

In August 1862, Lallier introduced to the World the first stamp album, printed in French – the main idea behind it was to encourage people to collect stamps and therefore increase his trade.   The album pages had outlined spaces for stamps, some containing their descriptions to aid the collectors.  The pages were headed with the names of countries and a picture of their heraldic emblems. An album could contain around 1,200 stamps.

In the picture above is an album page for the Netherlands. This page was originally printed with boxes and descriptions for three stamps. Because the second issue of these stamps would not appear until two years later the other four frames have been added to the page. The album is a bound edition with room for all stamps issued up to the date of production. Supplements had not been taken into consideration. Transferring stamps later into another album was probably not so simple, because stamp adhesives did not yet exist. The stamps were simply pasted with glue.

Lallier was a good businessman. He allowed others to produce albums in other countries under licence. In the same year an English edition was published. In the Netherlands the publisher W. F. Dannenfelser of Utrecht acquired the rights to translate and print, and in 1863 the first Dutch stamp album was produced. This is the album shown in the first picture above, which is part of the 19th Century shop front recreation in PostBeeld’s Haarlem shop.

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