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 Swedish KPV Watermarks
Complete KPV Watermark, with Wavy-Lines Watermark.
  1919 3 öre brown Small Coat of Arms (Scott #97, Facit #73).

The letters are 10 mm high. The 163 mm width of the letters consume six whole stamps, part of a seventh, and the entire side margin all the way to the edge.

The wavy-line watermark has normal orientation for this issue. In this example, the KPV watermark, as viewed from the backside is "upright, reversed" (upright letters, but reads from right to left) -- This would be right-reading if viewed from the front of sheet (which is nearly impossible to see in the stamp area, but is what is desired if this were a sheet-margin-only watermark).
by Jay Smith
November 17, 2015

In the last few days I have received two inquiries from collectors puzzled about unusual watermark letters on the 1911-1934 Swedish stamps. I usually get at least one such inquiry per month. This interesting subject deserves more attention.

Some early Swedish stamps have various marginal watermarks, including text in some cases, but examples are rare showing marginal watermark text on the stamps. However, starting in 1911 (Gustaf V in Round Frame) some stamps had "KPV" watermarks actually through the main part of the sheet.

The Scott Catalog includes an informational statement about these watermarks following #98, but if you are trying to understand the watermarked letters on a #C3, you might not notice the statement many pages earlier.

KPV refers to KUNGL POSTVERKET or Royal Post [Printing] Works. The watermark typically appears two or three times in each sheet (or sheet equivalent in the case of coil stamps). The outline-style (hollow inside) letters are fairly large and thus usually not more than two letters will show on a single stamp. The positioning can vary from well-centered complete letters to just small parts of letters.

In some cases, the watermark is found on otherwise unwatermarked stamps (such as Scott #77-94 and others), which really puzzles new collectors. In the 1920-1934 period, the KPV watermark is associated with stamps printed on the Facit-designated "B" paper.

In other cases, the watermark is found in combination with the wavy-lines watermark (such as Scott #95-98,160-163, B1-10, B22-31, C1-3, and others). All stamps found with the wavy-line watermark exist also with KPV, but not the other way around.

The following Scott numbers exist with KPV Watermarks: 77-94, 95-8, 99-104, 116-8, 122-5, 135-8, 139, 141, 143, 144, 146, 150, 153, 158, 160-3, 170, 189, 189A, 194-6, 212, 228, B1-10, B22-31, C1-3, O41-55. When numbers are listed for otherwise-unwatermarked (i.e. not with wavy-line) stamps (for example, #116) that also exist in wavy-line versions (#122), such stamps exist both as KPV-only and wavy-line+KPV.

The most common "normal" stamps are usually only valued a few cents, or maybe up to a dollar or two, more with KPV watermark. However, the wavy-line watermarked stamps that are more costly tend to have significant premiums when also with KPV, from double value to ten times as much (or even more in few cases). Inverted wavy-line watermarked stamps also with KPV tend to be very valuable.

The Facit Specialized Catalog (starting with 2016, only in the Facit Classic Specialized Catalog, "Facit Special Classic") lists and prices these interesting watermark varieties.

If you want to spice things up even further, the KPV watermark can theoretically exist in four positions, depending upon how the paper was loaded into the press (upright vs inverted and/or printing on front-side vs back-side). Though I have to believe that something must have been published, I am not aware of any published information detailing (or pricing) which stamps are known to exist in which of the four possible positions. (I welcome leads to references on this subject.) Some of the possible positions must be very scarce; while it is obvious that, for others, there is little difference in scarcity. Such a listing of watermark orientation (at least those which are known to exist, but not indicating rarity) has been published for Norway posthorn watermark, in Norgeskatalogen for many years. It is time that such information be made more widely known for Sweden.

When watermarking Swedish stamps, in my experience, all the different brands and types of watermark fluids work equally well. However, I always recommend using a fluid that is specifically labeled as "safe" (safe for photogravure stamps) -- so that you don't accidentally use an "unsafe" fluid and damage the some (usually photogravure-printed) stamps of another country (such as Norway).

SAFETY NOTE: Almost all watermark fluids are flammable, toxic, and perhaps potentially carcinogenic. Use only in a well ventilated area and in such a way that the fumes are being drawn away from your face. A relatively new brand, "Clarity", was developed at the request of the American Philatelic Society and is said to be "safe", non-toxic, non-flammable, and "solvent free". I use it most of the time. It costs a little more, but in my opinion it is worth the higher price. It should be available from any philatelic supply dealer.

Take some time to review the Facit Catalog and to check the stamps in your collection & among your duplicates. You may have a valuable variety and just don't know it!


Official Blackprint
1856/1862 Local Stamp
Very Limited Supply!
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Official blackprint/reprint made in 1930 to aid in study of the printing plate. Ungummed on thick card, as issued. Seldom offered.
Single $12.00
Pair $22.00
Block $40.00

Other reprints also available.


Rare ICELAND 1911
World Classic Seal Design
Very Limited Supply!
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Seldom offered and rarely at such a low price! A once-in-a-lifetime purchase allows me to share the savings with you.
NH VF normally $60.00!
NH VF Only $36.00!

(A few others $18-$48.
1904 and 1905 also available.)


From World War II
Only a few available!
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Only $16.00!

Limited Supply!
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Unplanned Vertical Coil "Error" Stamp.

Updated 31 March 2020

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