Sidelines + Moomins + Danish Christmas Seals

Robert cantwell


The spring of 2020 will have left its mark on all of us when finally the virus is defeated and life can continue as before.  Meanwhile, we must try to stay positive, protect ourselves and our loved ones, and think of helping those we know who are more vulnerable.  Many of us are at home practicing self-isolation according to government directives and unable to go to work.  For those of us who love the hobby and find pleasure and escape with stamps, this is perhaps a good time to work on our collections and find again that quiet place where we can relax and take a break from the stress we are all living with in these difficult days. 


Collectors who have been working for years on one or more traditional country collections will often develop a secondary interest and soon find themselves accumulating stamps and related material when they come across such items in their browsing.  A sideline or topical interest may be just a fun thing, but can evolve into a more serious pursuit once you decide that your little pile of stuff deserves its own binder.  So, here are a couple of mine:


The Moomins are a family of charming cartoon characters created by the Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson.  During her lifetime, a series of nine books were released, together with five picture books and a long-running comic strip, TV series and animated films. These have been translated into many languages and have won-over fans around the world. If ever you should visit Helsinki, you will see Moomin books and souvenirs in every shop.  While you are there, you might even decide to visit the historic Arabia Porcelain Factory and see in their retail shop Moomin ceramic products of the very highest quality.  These cups, plates and bowls are very collectible today, especially older items which can be quite expensive.  Finland Post (Posti) has also taken advantage of the popularity of these cute creatures and has issued many Moomin booklets for the topical collector.  I try to keep these in stock but they sell out fast.  Use the Northwind Stamps search function to find Moomin stamps and booklets on our site or click here

Danish Christmas Seals

Collecting Christmas seals is a hobby in itself, but can also be an interesting sideline for the traditional stamp collector as well. Scandinavia is a logical place to begin since Denmark was where the first Christmas Seals appeared. These labels were placed on mail during the Christmas season to raise funds and awareness for charitable programs. They have become particularly associated with lung diseases such as  tuberculosis and with child welfare. In 1904 the world’s first Christmas seal was issued bearing the likeness of the Danish Queen and the word ''Julen'' for Christmas.

At the beginning of the 1900s tuberculosis was a greatly feared disease, and its harmful effects on children seemed particularly cruel. In 1904 Einar Holbøll, a Danish postal clerk developed the idea of adding an extra charitable stamp onto mailed holiday greetings during Christmas. The money raised could be used to help children sick with tuberculosis. The plan was approved by the Postmaster and the King of Denmark, Christian IX. Over 4 million were sold in the first year. During the first six years enough funds were raised to build the Christmas Seal Sanatorium in Kolding, which was opened in 1911.


Collecting Christmas seals on cover is another popular approach and can be either an alternative or a compliment to the labels.  Some collectors limit themselves to letters and cards where the seals are postally ‘’tied’’ to the object. These are a little scarcer, of course, since the postal clerk was only required to cancel the stamps.

Click here to see more Danish Christmas Seals.
There will be more to come in a future blog as we look more closely at Scandinavian Christmas Seals.

Some of you, I’m sure, will have been struck by the relevance of this little discussion to the events we are living today.  The epidemic of tuberculosis was brought under control, finally, through an international effort.  Our own scourge will be defeated in the same way.  Meanwhile, I imagine that collectors around the world are already pondering on how these events can and should be documented philatelically.

 ‘Til next time.

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