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Friday, December 10, 2010

Variety Focus: Denmark's 5 Kr. Central Post Office

On September 16th, 1912, Denmark issued it's fist true "high value" stamp: The 5 Kroner Central Post Office stamp. Printed from a copper engraved plate, this was also Denmark's first "large format" stamp, being exactly twice the size of normal definitive stamps. The primary use of the stamp was to pay postage for large heavy parcels, and for high value insured letters.

This stamp was actually printed twice, on different types of paper, albeit from the same printing plate. The original printing from 1912 was made on paper with watermark III, large crown, and perforated 12 3/4. A subsequent printing was made on May 3rd, 1915, this time on the new paper with watermark multiple crosses, and with perforation 14 x 14 1/2.

Since only about 86,000 stamps were produced in each printing (yes, stamps, not sheets of stamps), this has never been a "common" stamp in Danish stamp collecting... and being able to afford a "Post Office" for my Denmark collection was a "big deal" until quite a long way into my collecting-- and work-- career. For many years, the market price for this stamp-- even for an inferior copy-- stubbornly stayed ahead of my collecting budget... and this remains true for a significant number of Denmark collectors.

Normal inscription (top) and KJØBFNHAVNS at bottom
This stamp also has one of Denmark's best known and most significant stamp varieties: Under the motif of the Central Post Office building in Copenhagen is the inscription "KJØBENHAVNS CENTRALPOSTBYGNING 1912." However, on the stamp in position 44, the word "KJØBENHAVNS" is mis-engraved as "KJØBFNHAVNS." Since the same printing place was used for both the 1912 and 1915 printings, the error occurs on both versions of the stamp.

The example from my own collection-- pictured at top-- is from the 1915 printing. It is listed in the Danish AFA stamp catalogue as no. 81x. This variety is also included in other European stamp catalogues. Because the "base" stamp already carries a fairly high value, the variety is even more expensive-- and quite difficult to find. It currently lists for 4200,- Danish Kr. (about US $805.00).