Netherlands: Commemorating a Dutch Naval Hero

The featured stamp is one of a set of three to be issued by the Netherlands on 23 March 1907. These three stamps of identical design were the first dutch stamps to include the portrait of an individual other than a King (King Wilhelm III, 1849-1890) or Queen (Queen Wilhelmina, 1890-1948). The portrait on this issue is of the Dutch naval hero, Admiral Michiel Adriaenzoon De Ruyter and were released to commemorate his birth tercentenary.

Michiel De Ruyter was born on 24 March 1607 in Vlissingen, in what was then known as the Spanish Netherlands, a collection of states in the low countries that were part of the Holy Roman Empire and ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs. In the early years of his career he worked in the Dutch merchant fleet, joined whaling expeditions and by 1651 had become wealthy on the back of successful trading voyages to Morocco, Brazil and the West Indies. However, it was during the Anglo-Dutch Wars against the English (mid-17th to late 18th centuries) that he came to prominence and achieved the reputation as a Dutch folk hero.

1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, ½c stamp
1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, ½c
1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, 1c stamp
1907 Birth Tercentenary of Admiral De Ruyter, 1c

The Raid on the Medway during the second Anglo-Dutch War in June 1667 was perhaps his most famous victory. The English fleet were anchored on the River Medway off Chatham Dockyard in the county of Kent. The Dutch sailed up the Thames estuary and into the River Medway to Chatham where they bombarded fortifications burned ships and towed away many others including the English flagship,  HMS Royal Charles. The raid was a significant embarrassment to King Charles II of England and led to a quick end to the second Anglo-Dutch War with favourable terms granted to the Dutch. De Ruyter died in 1676 following the mediterranean Battle of Augusta during the Franco-Dutch War. The Dutch ships had suffered severe losses during the battle and De Ruyter proceeded to disengage his squadron from the fighting. During the withdrawal, De Ruyter was fatally wounded when a cannonball struck him in the leg – he died a week later at Syracuse on the island of Sicily.

The 1907 commemorative issue comprises three stamps of denominations ½c (Blue), 1c (Claret) and 2½c (Vermilion). In the top left are the tercentenary years of his birth in 1607 and postal issue, 1907. Below this his portrait belied to be based on a painting of 1667 by Ferdinand Bol which is now held in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. To the right is an image (somewhat difficult to decipher) of a naval battle scene. Above this is clearly marked the denomination and county of issue, ‘NEDERLAND’. At the bottom on the stamp is the legend ‘M. A. DE RUYTER’.

1907 Postage Due ,Overprinted 6½c on 2½c stamp
1907 Postage Due, Overprinted 6½c on 2½c
1907 Postage Due, Overprinted50c on ½c stamp
1907 Postage Due, Overprinted50c on ½c

The 1907 issue was closely following in November 1907 with a substantial release of postage due stamps using the same stamp design overprinted with ‘PORTZEGEL’ and the denomination. These were all overprinted on the same ½c (Blue), 1c (Claret) and 2½c (Vermilion) stamps but comprised thirteen overprinted denominations from ½c to 1g. For the avid philatelist, five of these overprints were issued with a slightly different overprint design.

Michiel De Ruyter has been commemorated on many Dutch stamps since 1907 including the 1943-44 issue of Dutch naval heroes (7½c), the 1957 issue to commemorate his 350th birth anniversary (10c and 30c) and the 1976 issue to commemorate his 300th death anniversary (55c).

To view postal issues of Netherlands, 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: