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Friday, April 23, 2010

Variety Focus: Denmark's 4RBS classic with "Kranholds Retouch"

4 RBS brown, Ferslew printing, with "Kranholds retouch"
Although considered to be "number 2" in many parts of the world, Denmark's 4RBS Brown has always been regarded as "Denmark's first stamp" by collectors in Denmark. In the Danish AFA catalogue, it is listed as no. 1, and was issued on April 1, 1852, a month before the 2 RBS blue-- which is regarded as no. 2 in Denmark, but no. 1 in some parts of the world. It's a bit confusing-- but I personally believe the Danish approach is the correct one, as these stamps were not issued as "a set," so numerically treating them as such is incorrect.

The 4 RBS stamp is widely collected by specialists, and offers a wealth of printings, colors and plate flaws. Although a "number one" stamp from the 1850's, it remains reasonably affordable, with a catalogue value in the range of US$40.00 and up depending on the printing and color. Collectible quality copies (maybe with 3 margins, or some tiny flaw) can generally be had for about US$10.00, although premium quality 4-margin copies sell for considerably more.

I obtained my first copy of the 4 RBS stamp in 1973, at the age of 13-- when my maternal grandfather passed away, and I inherited his modest collection of Danish stamps. Subsequently, I have become a far more "serious" collector of Danish stamps... and this has included a growing interest in this, Denmark's first stamp.

Kranholds retouch (top) and normal stamp
As I mentioned, many varieties exist on this stamp, but perhaps the best known-- and most coveted by collectors-- is named "Kranholds Retouch." This variety came about when the printing cliché in position 5 of plate II had the word "POST" re-engraved... but the end result was a "POST" that looked quite different from the original design. Although definitely sharper and more readable, the letters "O" and "S" were shorter and quite different in shape from the originals.

This variety exists on the Ferslew (first) printing, and the first two Thiele printings. As you can see from the side-by-side photo (left), there is a considerable difference in appearance between the variety (top) and the regular design (bottom).

A stamp with the variety, from the Ferslew printing, currently has a catalogue value of 3500,- Danish kroner, or about US$675.00.