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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Danish Luxury Cancels

Collecting stamps with superb "socked-on-the-nose" town cancels has been an integral part of the stamp collecting scene in Sweden, for as long as I can remember. Stamps with superior strikes-- especially from small or "dead" towns-- can command premiums that border on the absurd. Although Swedish collectors sometimes center their town cancels collections around a specific issue, the cancels themselves are often more important than the stamps they appear on. I started my own collection of Swedish town cancels in the early 1980's, and chose to specialize in the "Ring" type stamps (Scott 17-51/Facit 17-51).

In neighboring Denmark-- which is where I was born, and where I know stamp collecting to be extremely popular-- the collecting of cancels has bordered on "esoterica" until quite recently. A few people did specialize in early numeral cancels, but they were few and far between. The thought of collecting great cancels on anything but classic issues was pretty much unheard of.

The Danish AFA catalogues (the de-facto "bible" used by Danish collectors) did not consider cancels as part of their "premium quality" definition until the 2003 edition of the catalogues. For comparison's sake, the main Swedish philatelic organization (SFF) adopted standards in 1968.

Collectors in Denmark are only just beginning to pay attention to cancels as a separate collecting area. Building a collection with superior town cancels is still a bit of a novelty, although the number of lots offered for sale with the descriptor "superb cancel" increases every day-- regardless of whether you're perusing one of Thomas Høiland's fine auction catalogues, or wandering through the listings on Denmark's QXL online auction site.

Because I already had the interest in Swedish cancels, I have been saving Danish stamps with nice cancels for some 20 years. As a bit of an experiement, I recently put some duplicates up for sale on the QXL auction site. I'll be curious to see how that goes. Are the Danes ready to pay similar premiums to what the Swedes have been for over three decades?

More here, as it unfolds....

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