Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Famous letters

In my quest for stamps picturing (or commemorating) people named Eric I made recently a very significant progress. Using my 2006 Scott catalogue on CD-Rom and the search facility of Acrobat reader I was able to establish a consequent list of stamps, which is surely not yet exhaustive. For instance I found out that Sweden is the country that has issued the highest number of stamps in this category. This is not really a surprise, since several kings of Sweden were named Erik.
In my research I came across this booklet of four stamps (I show you the stamps and the cover of the booklet).
(click on the picture to zoom)

It was issued on the 6th of June 1984, to celebrate STOCKHOLMIA ’86, an international philatelic exhibition that was held in 1986 in Stockholm (easy, no ? ;-) ). The idea of this stamp set is to picture four famous letters that are kept in various libraries.

The two first stamps on the left side are the ones that fall into my topic for collection. The first one, on the far left side, pictures Erik XIV (1533-1577). Erik XIV was King of Sweden from 1560 until 1568 when he was deposed. He was the son of Gustav I of Sweden and Catherine of Saxe-Lauenburg. His foreign policy was marked by his attempts to make Sweden a great power, leading him sometimes to clash with the members of his own family. In his early reign he showed signs of mental instability, that led to insanity. He died in prison after his half-brother, John III ascended to the throne. The legend says that he was killed by a poisoned bowl of pea soup.
The background of the stamp reproduces a letter that Erik XIV wrote to Elizabeth I of England to propose a marriage to her. He did not succeed in this attempt, neither when he proposed the same to Mary I of Scotland nor when he asked Renata of Lorraine.

The second stamp (from the left) pictures Erik Dahlberg (1625-1703), a Swedish soldier who became general director of fortifications for the Swedish crown. He is sometimes referred as the “Vauban of Sweden”. In the background of the stamp is reproduced his letter to the general paymaster Sten Bielke to request means to pay the workers at the fortification construction in Goteborg.

Just to be complete the two last stamps picture a feather letter, making reference to the Swedish custom to attach feathers to the seal of urgent crown letter, and a letter from August Strindberg to his ex-wife, the actress Harriet Bosse.

The four stamps haven been engraved by the very famous CZ Slania.

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