Naszarkowski's Linnaeus

In 2007, Sweden celebrated the 300th anniversary of the birth of the famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. They did so with no less than two separate stamp issues. In May a miniature sheet was issued with two stamps engraved by Lars Sjööblom. But preceding that were two coil stamps which were issued on 25 January 2007, and it is these two coils stamps which are featured here today.

They are both engraved by Piotr Naszarkowski and show some of his finest work. The first stamp, inscribed Brev inrikes, depicts the Linnaea borealis, or twinflower. It's a lovely delicate woodland flower and the engraving is just as delicate.

The second stamp includes a portrait of the man. The heading Systema naturae is a reference to the classification system of the natural world which Linnaeus invented. The Enneandria is one of those classes, that of plants with nine stamens (pollen-producing reproductive organs). See? The things you learn when looking at your stamps! I think the portrait is fascinating and one of Naszarkowski's best.

Now as you know, the Swedish Post has very obligingly issued quite a few black prints of engraved stamps over the years, which have been welcomed warmly by those who enjoy the art of engraving. They are especially interesting when the stamps themselves suffer from multi-process overkill. It has to be said, though, that these particular stamps do not fall under that category; the colour scheme is very subtle and does the engraving no harm whatsoever. Yet, I was still exceedingly thrilled when I managed to lay my hands on the black print of these two coil stamps. Why? Because it's rare!

Normally, these type of black prints are handed out in large quantities by the postal authorities, to regular customers, with year packs, etc. They are therefore freely available at hardly any cost at all. But not this one.

This one comes from a special book on Linnaeus which was issued by the Swedish Post in 2007. The book includes two of these panes, one with the two Naszarkowski engravings and one with the two Sjööblom engravings. Of these latter, by the way, exist easily available black prints as well.

The only dealer with whom I've ever seen these book panes advertised states that the book (and therefore the panes) sold out very quickly and has since been virtually impossible to obtain. So now you know why I'm over the moon!