Philatelic Gems of the Post Museum of Finland
Porto Stempel Postal Stationery
Finland was the second country in the world to introduce postal stationery envelopes in the early part of 1845. These so-called Porto stempel envelopes were issued in denominations of 10 and 20 kopecks for two weight categories. At first, the envelopes could be used only for domestic mailings, but later they could also be used for items destined for Russia. A total of 645 Porto stempel envelopes with the 20-kopeck red franking were sold, and the remaining envelopes were burned later. Only two unused specimens of 20-kopeck Porto stempel envelopes are known, one of them in the Post Museum’s collection.
Postal stationery with oval stamp-imprints
In connection with the revision of letter postage fees at the beginning of 1850, the postal stationery envelopes were revamped as well. The new stamp-imprints were 5-kopeck blue, 10-kopeck red, and 20-kopeck black. Approximately 1,500 specimens of the original 20-kopeck postal stationery issue were sold, of which only two specimens are known to exist. One of them is in a private collection and the other at the Post Museum.
The first postage stamps were issued in Finland in 1856. The stamps were printed using the same stamp-imprints as the 5- and 10-kopeck stationery envelopes. In order to prevent any wrongdoing, the new stamps were equipped with secret marks, so-called pearls, placed on the mouth of the posthorns depicted on the stamps. In 1858, the pearls of the 5-kopeck stamp-imprint were enlarged.
Stamps were hand-made by imprinting marks on a paper sheet along the edge, then cutting the finished row off the sheet. Due to the imprinting method, each sheet had two rows of stamp imprints, facing the opposite directions. These so-called tête-bêche pairs are quite rare. In addition to the Post Museum’s envelope, only two other cancelled tête-bêche pairs with small pearls are known.
Three specimens of a cancelled tête-bêche block of four 10-kopeck oval stamps are known to exist.
A rare combination of strips of four and five 10-kopeck oval stamps can be seen on the back of an envelope sent from Turku to Stockholm in 1858.
The Zeppelin misprint
In honour of the airship Graf Zeppelin’s visit to Finland, a small issue of special stamps was produced. The basis for these was the 10-mark Saimaa definitive stamp, which was then given the overprint ‘Zeppelin 1930’. On a sheet of one hundred stamps, the overprint of one stamp received the erroneous year marking 1830. Over half of the 500-sheet issue was sold before the mistake was noticed. The remaining misprint stamps were detached from the sheets and recalled. The Post Museum has a few entire sheets, with the misprint on stamp 86.