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 Behind The Scenes  
 Denmark "Rationalizing" New Stamp Issue Sales  
 
by Jay Smith
August 12, 2015

With the combination of the Danish and Swedish postal operations into Post Nord in the last couple of years, the Danish post office started to dramatically change their stamp issue formats and issue policies. The changes are continuing. These are, so they say, attempts to make the sales of stamps economically viable. (In my opinion, much of what they have done has actually hurt them rather than helped them, but when I discussed this with them, it was made extremely clear to me that they were not interested in such a perspective.)

Among many changes, at the beginning of 2015, Denmark stated that they will no longer sell, via mail (and perhaps even at post offices?), SINGLE STAMPS FROM booklets/sheets, coils, etc. It appears that the only option for one-off purchases are the complete unit in which the item was issued.

Since the beginning of 2014, with only a few exceptions, most stamps have been "normally" issued only in booklets (they call them "strips" for some odd reason). A few stamps were "normally" issued in coil rolls of 100, and were only sold as full rolls. However, prior to that time, their website offered (only) some items on a per-stamp basis. However, now, only complete booklets or strips or sheets or rolls can be purchased by collectors from the post office as one-off purchases. (I don't have enough reliable reports of what is being offered in the local post offices.)

This means that for collectors who want to purchase single stamps/sets from the post office (instead of from a dealer), an annual subscription covering ALL stamp issues in that format is required. The collector cannot pick and choose which issues they want to buy and in what quantities, unless the collector is willing to purchase the complete unit (complete booklet, strip, sheet, coil roll).

The flip side of this equation is that "products" such as the official year packs and the occasional presentation packs are being made (populated) with stamps with different backing papers; these are basically coil stamps that have been specially made for this purpose. These special different-backing-paper versions CANNOT be purchased other than by buying the entire year pack.

(Various other countries have sometimes had such special pack or FDC-manufacture versions for automated production, but the differences were usually minimal and not known to the public. Norway now regularly has such differences for coil and booklet issues, but all those are regularly available to collectors in the presentation packs offered for each issue. Finland uses a different "some missing die cuts" version of booklet panes and souvenir sheets for their FDC production.)

Whenever there are dual production streams such as Denmark is using, there is the possibility of philatelically-significant differences. So far there have been few or no such differences (of which I am aware) in the Danish stamps themselves, but it has happened for other countries and it could start happening for Denmark.

Another aspect of the Dane's change in production streams, which I just discovered a few days ago, is that the "canceled" booklet of one issue (at this point, it seems to be just one issue) that the Danish post office is selling are MISSING the two rouletted folding lines found on mint booklets. All the canceled items being sold by the post office as regular "products" now appear to have a printed (not struck) postmark, thus there is a different production stream or workflow involved. All this can result in differences that some specialists will consider philatelically significant (the stamps themselves seem to be identical).

While there has been mention of some of these subjects in the Danish philatelic press, so far the stamp catalogs and collectors & dealers in general seem to be ignoring the differences. The attitude seems to be that if the stamps are identical once removed from the backing, maybe it does not matter in which format and with what backing paper they were produced.

Though some might say that all this just benefits dealers, think again. A dealer cannot buy 20 examples of a coil stamp; the dealer either has to buy 100 or none, or find another dealer to get them from (and thus pay more than face value). A dealer can't buy a few extra of this or that because of the subject matter, without buying complete units (booklets, sheets, strips, coil rolls). And in the case of the very high value definitives, the minimum unit quantity seems to be 20 or 25 stamps, which quickly gets into real money when the face value is 50 kroner per stamp!

These policies hurt everybody. As an operator of a Scandinavian new issue service, I am feeling the pain at least as much as everybody else. I continue to attempt to offer all the philatelically significant variations, but it is getting harder every day. This is an ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE for the dealer. In fact, I am the only dealer that I know of who seems to care about these issues and is making some attempt to help his/her new issue clients stay informed about them and to acquire them.

For more information about my Scandinavian New Issue Service, send me an email to: js@JaySmith.com
 
 

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