For me, specialization was really an offshoot of the fact that I could no longer afford (in my 20's) to buy the next stamp I needed to fill an empty space, going purely "by the main numbers." The "Specialized Scandinavia" series takes a look at some popular-- and possible-- options for specialization within the field of Scandinavian philately-- often focusing on ways to build a specialized stamp collection withOUT breaking the bank.
The 12 öre blue Vapentyp was the primary stamp used for regular domestic postage within Sweden, from its issue day on July 1st, 1858 until it was replaced by the first of the Ringtyp (or "Circle Type") series on July 1st, 1872.
Although the stamp is definitely from the "Classic Period," the fact that it substantially carried the bulk of Swedish mail for 14 years means that 107 million 12 öre blue stamps were printed!
Such a large number translates into a wealth of opportunity for specialists, for a number of reasons.
First, because so many stamps were printed, the 12 öre Vapentyp remains quite affordable... notwithstanding that we're talking about a 150-year old stamp. To this day, the catalogue value for just a "basic" copy of this stamp remains around just US $2.00 or less than 20:- Swedish Kr. That makes it relatively easy to get your hands on a number of examples without spending a fortune.
In addition, the stamps weren't printed all at once-- they were supplied in multiple printings and deliveries in the course of 14 years. Sweden's Facit catalogue lists 24 distinct shades of this stamp, and that just covers the basics. Some of these shades can be quite difficult to find, and even though the base stamp is inexpensive, a nice copy of a rare shade might set you back US
|Some shades, like this "blackish ultramarine," are quite rare|
Next, consider that there were also three distinctly different perforation machines used, and that the stamps were printed from eight different plates.
With these variables as a starting point, we can then add that printing "technology" in 1858 was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today. This means that it was rather easy for varieties to come up... both as a result of small variations in the original-- hand made-- printing plates, and as a result of plate wear and damage that occurred during the printing process.
The result is a rich source of "raw material" to serve as the basis for a specialized collection,
Of course, there are additional variations-- a collection of the 12 öre Vapentyp could also be expanded with covers and town cancels, adding a postal history element to the collection. In doing so, you can make the scope of the collection almost infinite, as there are literally tens of thousands of possibilities.
One of the benefits of taking on such an old stamp issue for specialization is that it has already been studied extensively by philatelists, so there's a significant amount of specialist information already available. Add to that the way the Internet has helped the spread of information, and you have many sources of information at your fingertips. A few quick searches on Google revealed several collector web sites with lots of detailed information about this stamp.
|A cancel like "ALANÄSET" is quite rare and can add a lot|
of value to a relatively common stamp.
A good starting point might be to buy an accumulation from a reputable dealer or auction house. Sometimes "lots" of these stamps also show up on web sites like eBay. Naturally, it would be easiest to find such an accumulation at a Swedish auction house.
Some might feel more comfortable with the idea of purchasing a collection that has already been started, and then building onto it.
If you want to go the route of buying one stamp at a time, online sales venues like Delcampe, BidStart or Stamps2Go might be a better option-- but you need a place that has a good supply of lower priced items. Circuit books from an organization like the American Philatelic Society is also a worthwhile place to look.
Whatever way you go about starting your specialized collection, be aware that you'll have to make your own album pages... or do what many do with such collections-- start them out in a stock book, where it is easier to move the stamps around as the scope of the collection grows.
Above all, remember to have fun!