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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

At auction: Classic Sweden and Town Cancels (Ortstämplar)

Many years ago, I developed an interest in classic stamps from Sweden. I was particularly attracted by the neat looking cancels that seemed to fit so perfectly on the stamp.

What follows is a bit of a "back story" about the stamps I have for auction on eBay this week. If you want to skip the story and just look at the stamps, follow this link to my auctions. The stamps shown on this page are actual items up for auction this week, bidding open till Sunday, September 8th.

I actually developed this interest in my 20's, more or less by "accident." I had reached a point in my collecting "career" where my student budget no longer was enough to acquire the stamp for the "next empty space" in my album ($20.00 for one stamp was a lot, for me, at that time), so I was gradually learning to specialize... which allowed me to collect "different" examples of the same-- but less expensive-- stamps.

A nice cancel from FLODAFORS. Somewhat scarce, this is no
longer an independent postal place.
I used to go back to Denmark (as a student in the US) during the summers to work... and one day during my "off" time, I found myself wandering the streets of a part of Copenhagen that-- back then-- had quite a few brick-and-mortar stamp stores still open.

I found myself in one (quite short-lived) shop where the owner took in people's collections and "box lots" on consignment. It was a tremendous mess of stacks of albums and moving boxes and index card boxes and more. A veritable treasure trove, for a stamp collector!

In the course of checking all these boxes and albums, I came across a shoe box filled with ancient yellowing glassines filled with old-to-classic Swedish stamps. Clearly, someone had started an accumulation with the intent of "doing something" with the stamps, at some point... which evidently never arrived, since the box was now for sale. Most of the glassines were filled heavily duplicated "common" stamps from the "ringtyp" era forward to the 1940's. What I also noticed was that there were a number of glassines noted "bedre stempler" (Danish for "better cancels") and that piqued my interest-- I'd already started collecting Danish numeral cancels and "star" cancels, as a specialty.

Cancels just seemed interesting to me, perhaps because of the way they "told a story" about a stamp-- when and where someone used it to mail something. And I liked the idea that the stamp had been used to serve it's "natural purpose."

The box of old Swedish stamps was really more money than I could afford at the time, but I decided to go ahead and buy it, anyway.

A top quality cancel from BÖDA, no more than a tiny village on
the island of Öland. Quite scarce.
I spent many enjoyable evenings going through the thousands of stamps in that shoebox, picking out the particular "choice" examples with beautiful cancels. Although there were no great rarities in there, approximately the first 300 stamps in my "town cancels on classic Sweden" collection came from this box, and have formed the foundation for a collection I have been adding to for almost 30 years.

As the years have passed, I have narrowed my scope a little bit. In its original incarnation, my Swedish cancel collection included all issues up to the UPU sets of 1924. About 15 years ago, I cut that back to just the Arms ("Vapentyp") and Circle ("Ringtyp") type stamps. As of this writing, I have over 4000 stamps in the collection, sometimes with multiple examples from the same town, where different canceling devices may have been used, at different times.

"Hembygdsfilateli," Swedish-- literally-- for "home town (or area/region) philately," is a popular collecting area in Sweden. For many, it's considered "postal history" as much as "stamp" collecting. Although I do have a number of covers in my collection, I am primarily interested in loose stamps.

There are different ways to collect Swedish town cancels, but it's important to remember that there really isn't a "right" or "wrong" way. Some collectors are happy as long as the town name can be "clearly made out" while others will only collect stamps with "perfect" strikes.

Those stamps with perfect ("lyx") and near-perfect ("prakt") quality cancels often command huge premiums at auction, and from dealers who specialize in cancels.

A sampling of the actual stamps for auction this week.
Click this image to see a larger version.
The stamps in this week's eBay auctions represent some duplicates I have accumulated over the past few years... usually as a result of finding "a better example" of a particular cancel. Some-- from the "Oscar" period-- are also outside my collecting area.

All the stamps pictured in this entry are up for bids.

This week's auctions include a total of 135 lots. These are a nice mixture of many fine town cancels, and well as a few classic Swedish stamps with plate flaws and varieties, as well a a few chosen simply because they are in really nice condition.

All stamps have an opening bid of just US $0.99, and there are never any hidden reserves... and since there are some pretty valuable stamps included, the opportunity to find a few bargains definitely exists.

Bidding is open until Sunday, September 8th, till about 1:00pm US Pacific Time/4:00pm US Eastern Time or 22:00 Central European Time. I hope you'll find something of interest to add to your collection!

Click here to see the current auctions with Swedish stamps.

Thank you for your interest!

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