Netherlands: Coming of Age

Queen Wilhelmina succeeded to the throne of the Netherlands in 1890. Her father, King Wilhelm III, had featuring on the first adhesive stamps of the Netherlands issued on New Years Day, 1852. On succession, Wilhelmina was just 10 years old and not of age to reign alone. Her mother and second wife of Wilhelm III, therefore acted as regent.

The first definitive issue featuring Wilhelmina as monarch appeared as early as 1891. The design is similar to that of the 1872 issue but rather than featuring Wilhelm III, a profile of the young Queen was substituted. This issue remained in circulation until 1895 and included denominations ranging from 3c to 1g (Guilder). Queen Wilhelmina came of age in 1898 when aged 18, she was formally inaugurated in Amsterdam. A new definitive issue, featuring the Queen in her inaugural robes, was released the same year, giving rise to the rather disparaging reference to the ‘Fur Coat’ or ‘Bontraag’ issue.

Denominations up to 20c were monochrome with denominations of 17½c and above appearing in dual colours. 5c and 12½c denominated stamps were required to be printed in red and blue respectively under the terms of the 1897 Universal Postal Union of Washington. Between 1908 and 1910, further denominations from 15c were also issued in two colours. Unwatermarked paper was used for all printings although later issues were printed on slightly thicker paper. The typical perforation was 12½ although variations of 11, 11½ , 11 x 11½ and 11½ x 11 also exist.

Netherlands 1898 Queen Wilhelmina 12½c definitive stamp
1898 Queen Wilhelmina 12½c monochrome
Netherlands 1898 Queen Wilhelmina 25c definitive stamp
1898 Queen Wilhelmina 25c dual colour
Netherlands 1923 Queen Wilhelmina 5c imperforate definitive stamp
1923 Queen Wilhelmina 5c imperf. variety issued during printers strike

A 1g stamp was issued to commemorate the inauguration in September 1898. A 10g stamp was issued in 1905 for the purpose of money orders and despatch of heavy parcels. The 10g was originally proposed to be printed in ‘national orange’ but after colour trials, an alternative shade of orange-red was selected. This design was retained for a Guilder denominated issue the following year. The latter issue of the 1g can be distinguished from the earlier commemorative issue by the slightly thicker lettering of the word GULDEN and wider spaced numerals. Primary issues:

  • 3c Orange, Sage Green, Claret
  • 4½c Mauve
  • 5c Rose-Red (various shades)
  • 7½c Deep Brown
  • 10c Grey-Lilac
  • 12½c Blue
  • 15c Brown
  • 15c Carmine & Blue
  • 17½c Mauve
  • 17½c Brown & Ultramarine
  • 20c Green
  • 20c Grey & Yellow-Green
  • 22½c Olive-Green & Brown
  • 25c Blue & Rose
  • 30c Maroon & Mauve
  • 40c Orange & Green
  • 50c Violet & Grey
  • 60c Green & Olve
  • 1g Blue-Green
  • 2½g Dull Lilac
  • 5g Lake
  • 10g Orange-Red

The series is an interesting one to collect as there are multiple colours and shades, the postmarks of this era are quite distinctive and there are numerous variations. Increases in postal rates between 1919 and 1923 resulted in numerous surcharges. In 1922 the design of the 10c denominated stamp was redrawn with wider spacing of lines of the background. In January 1923, 5 and 10c denominations were issued imperforate as a result of a printers strike.

Queen Wilhelmina remained on the throne from 1890 until she abdicated in 1948 due to ill health. Wilhelmina died at the age of 82 in November 1962 is was buried in the Dutch Royal Family crypt in Delft.

To view postal issues of Cyrenaica, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Published by nigelmandsphilatelycom

Nigel Matthews has been a philatelist for more than 30 years. He has a particular interest in the postal history of the Caribbean including associated British Commonwealth countries (incl. Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Monserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos) as well as Cuba, Danish West Indies, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Netherlands Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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