Home History The History of Stamp Collecting Part 19 – The Netherlands in 1863

The History of Stamp Collecting Part 19 – The Netherlands in 1863


In the late 1970s a fascinating series of articles written by Mr. K. Kouwenberg about the history of Stamp Collecting, appeared in the Dutch magazine Philatelie. This series has been the source of inspiration for PostBeeld owner Rob Smit to rewrite the history of stamp collecting in instalments. The last instalment and this refer to the growth of stamp collecting in The Netherlands.

Actually, it’s not surprising that the growth of philately in the early 1860s in The Netherlands was slow compared to some other European countries. With only three stamps issued there was little to collect (although a current collector of stamps printed on the first plate might think differently). In 1864 the number of new stamp issues doubled and in 1867 it doubled again.

In 1863, the year that slavery was abolished in Holland, the number of Dutch stamps doubled from three to six. In addition, another Dutch stamp catalogue appeared.

Peter Harmen Witkamp was, especially in Amsterdam, in the fifties and sixties of the 19th century, a well-known figure. He wrote about history, geography and the city of Amsterdam, among other things. He also was an excellent cartographer.

Peter Harmen Witkamp and his catalogue

Towards the end of 1863 he published a stamp catalogue. Unlike all other hitherto published catalogues, Witkamp didn’t feature stamps of the whole world, but only those of Europe. It was published in two parts – Part 1: Northern Europe and Part 2: Middle Europe. Today, most catalogues are limited geographically. Witkamp was the first to do this. Perhaps he was planning to release a series for the title of the catalogues was always “The Stamps of all Realms and States” above the part number and area covered. However, there remained only two parts.

France had recognised Dutch stamps in 1863. Natalis Rondot (featured in Part 7) mentions The Netherlands in the first issue of the 1863 ‘Magisin Pittoresque’. The translation of the text reads as follows:

Kingdom of Netherlands

5 stamps, one type.

The Postal Reform Law was introduced on April 12, 1850, but the use of postage stamps didn’t begin until 1st January 1852. The Act of 1850 fixed amounts established for letters from 15 grams to 5, 10 and 15 cents depending on distance. Rates were reduced in 1855 to 5 cents for a distance of 30 kilometers and 10 cents for a distance greater than 30 kilometers. A uniform rate of 5 cents was adopted in 1860 by the second chamber and then rejected by the first chamber.

The rate is the same for letters with or without postage stamps.

The number of letters was as follows; in 1848, under the old Act 6,157,856. In 1852, under the new law 12,308,410. In 1856, under the amended law 16,125,116 and in 1860; 19,057,326.

In the five years 1855 to 1860, the number of letters increased by 29% and in a three-year period 1858-1860 compared to 1855-57 by 15%.

The population of The Netherlands is 3,324,135 in 1860, so that the average number of letters per inhabitant is 6 pieces for this year.

Between 1848 and 1852 was 14% of letters were stamped, in 1856 16% and in 1860 19%.

In 1860 3,653,662 stamps were sold – 1,897,341 5 cents, 1,618,051 10 cents and 138,270 15 cents.

The stamps have been the same since 1850. They show a portrait of King William III in an oval and ornamented frame. The head is turned to the right. Above it says Postal Stamp and below the currency and number. The stamp measures 20 by 18 mm, is rectangular, engraved and printed in colour on white paper.

5 cents (0.1058f) – 1st deep blue; 2nd sky blue

10 cents (0.2116f) – Red

15 cents (0.3174f) – Orange

– the calculation for French Francs used a rate of 1 guilder = 2f.12

There is a proof stamp of 5 cent black.

The stamps are made in the Rijksmunt in Utrecht.

The use of postage stamps was introduced in 1861 in Dutch Guiana.

The above shows how extensively Rondot had researched the stamps. Below is an image of the original publication.


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