Monday, February 1, 2010

Denmark's New Definitive Stamps show Margrethe

Her Majesty Queen Margreth II will celebrate her 70th birthday in 2010. To mark this occasion, Post Danmark has decided to replace the current portrait of the Queen used in the definitive stamp series, which was issued for the monarch 60th birthday.

The new portrait is the sixth in a row since 1974, when the first series of definitive stamps featuring a portrait of the Queen was issued. The portrait is the work of master photographer Casper Sejersen, and the stamp was designed bythe firm e-Type. The orignal photo is show on the left and the engraving is shown on the right.

On 10 Febuary 2010, Post Danmark will issue four different denominations of the new definitive stamps featuring Queen Margrethe, covering the most comon postage charges. This will be the first Danish series of definitive stamps to be issued on self-adhesive paper, which in the future will be used for all definitive stamps, including the Wavy Line and the Small National Coat of Arms. The old definitive stamps featuring Queen Margrethe will be removed from sale at post offices and sub-post offices at the end of January 2010, but will still be available from the Post Danmark Philatelic sales department.


When the E-Types design agency was commissioned to design a new series of definitive stamps, they began by studying the long tradition of definitive stamps featuring portraits of various monarchs. We quickly discovered that what we wanted to do was to create a modern stamp on the basis of the old traditions,” says Jonas Hecksher of E-Types. They finally found their inspiration in a number of old definitive stamps featuring King Christian X. In those days, definitive stamps were two-toned, in contrast to today’s stamps when the stamps began to be produced in one color only, using the intaglio method. The new design thus harks back to the old multicolored tradition, with part of the stamp offset-printed in two colors (the vertical bar on the right-hand side of the portrait, and the faint background color). The stamp was created in a productive collaboration between e-Types, the photographer Casper Sejersen and the engraver Martin Morck. We made very good use of each others skills, says Jonas Hecksher. Through a combination of good craftsmanship and the best ideas of the photographer, engraver and designers, we arrived at an innovative result with which we are all pleased.


E-Types has worked with Casper Sejersen for the past twelve years, so it was natural for them to ask him to be the photographer for the project. It was an exciting commission for Casper Sejersen, who has not previously photographed members of the royal family, especially as the photograph had to be suitable for reproduction in stamp size — in contrast to many of his other photos, which are designed to look their best in a large format.

The session took place in a quite different manner than I had imagined, but in a positive way,’ says the 41-year-old photographer, who lives in the district of Osterbro of Copenhagen. The Queen was on her own during the portrait session at Amalienborg Palace, which helped to create a calm atmosphere. I could clearly sense that the Queen was very interested in ensuring that the portrait turned out well, and she was glad to be able to see the photographs immediately after the session. Some days in advance of the session, Casper Sejersen and e-Types had taken some test photos of a woman of the same age as the Queen. This allowed them to adjust the lighting and try out various techniques, and thanks to these thorough preparations, the photo session with the Queen was completed in less than an hour and a half.

The original idea was for the Queen to be presented against a dark background, but a bright background turned out to give the stamp the right expression.


The engraver Martin Morck was involved in the entire process — from the photo session with the Queen to the selection of the final portrait and the subsequent retouching. And just as Martin Morck contributed ideas to the photography, Casper Sejersen, Jonas Hecksher and Jens Kajus also made suggestions to Martin as he began to make his engraving drawing in advance of the final engraving. The 54-year-old engraver put the final touches to the engraving in the middle of September.

All in all, the process leading up to the printing of the stamp lasted just under six months. It has been a long, but creatively fascinating process,” says Martin Morck. Everyone was open to new ideas, and we worked very hard and contributed to each other’s work in order to create the best possible result.”

The Stamps are in the following denominations: 5.50, 6.50, 8.50, and 9.50 Danish Kronor. There are 77 stamps in a sheet. Each stamp measures 23 by 20 mm. A first day cover with one of each value is available at 38.55 DKK. A booklet containing 8 stamps (two of each value) will be sold for 99.00 DKK. A deluxe individually numbered and singned (by the engraver Martin Morck) persentation folder containing a 21 by 21 cm engraving of Queen Margrethe II is being produced in a limited quantity of 500 examples. The price of this special item is 495.00 DKK.