It all started out in 1869. Until then the stamp, known under the name 'Franco in frame', has served to destroy the stamps on letters. The post office of shipment was recognizable on the red departure stamp they used on letters but which often was unreadable. This was found out very inconvenient because letters often had to be returned to sender. Most of the time only name and residence of addressee was mentioned. To find out the origin of a letter more easily the Minister of Finance announced the introduction of a 'numeral stamp for the destruction of stamps' from April 1, 1869.
A second reason for the introduction was, that the dots from the new stamp made such deep prints in the stamps, that wash up the ink became impossible. So the stamp couldn't be used a second time.
At first sight less nice for collectors, but knowing the above no reason to put the stamp aside, however, sometimes you can come across stamps where the dots of the numberal stamp made little holes in the trinket.
Transition from 'franco in frame' to numeral stamp.
In the official announcement the form of the stamp is mentioned as: 'a number, in hexagonal form surrounded by dots'. A print of the stamp has the next form.
In the center of the stamp the number of the town of shipment. Above this number successively a horizontal row of three dots with under that a row of four dots. Next to the number, on both sides, three rows of two dots, while under the number again a row of four dots concluded whit a last row of three dots. In all twentysix dots. Only stamps with the numbers 1 to 9 do have an extra dot on both sides of that number.
Very soon the stamp was mentioned by the public as 'dot stamp'.
The vertical axis of the stamp crosses the middle dots of the top most and the lowest row and divides the office number in two halves. That means: for the numbers 1 till 9 right through de number, for the numbers 10 till 99 just between the two digits en for the office numbers 100 till 259 through the middle digit of that number.
Knowing this one can be sure that on subjoined letter with indistinct stamp it is impossible that 35 is the office number. If this wasn't a letter but a soaked off stamp, a lot of collectors would haved assumed to deal with Enkhuizen (35). It is clear that the vertical axis crosses the digit 3 and the office of shipment only can be Zwolle (135) or Naaldwijk (235).
What makes collecting numeral stamps so interesting is the fact that only collecting the different stamps provided tot the post offices is not enough but that there are so many variants. One can imagine that a post office never during a period of 20 years used one and the same stamp. After a few years new specimen were supplied which differs from the first qua form. Sometimes with very slight differences but there are also numeral stamps provided with very large differences. Sometimes for that purpose to see the difference at a glance.
The post office in Apeldoorn received at the first provision of the new stamp a specimen with the number 6, with an extra dot under the digit to indistinguish to an up side down placed 9.
A few years later, around 1875, this stamp was replaced with a new one and the office received a specimen without the extra dot.
Apeldoorn (6)Sneek (99)
More stamps have had different variants what makes collecting them very attractive. Stamp 66 for example, supplied to the post office of Leerdam, had for the same reason as Apeldoorn an extra dot between the digits, (6.6). About 1875 this extra dot has disappeared.
Besides that, Sneek (99) also had to indistinguish to 66 an extra dot between the digits, (9.9). This dot also disappeared after a few years. From 1875 till 1889 a stamp without an extra dot has been used wat makes it very difficalt for collectors to distinct the last two mentioned numbers. About 1889 a third stamp has been supplied to Sneek, this time with an extra dot after the digits. (so 99.)
One can only see the difference between a 6 and a 9 at the form of the number. The top of the 6 is more open than the bottom of the 9. For most collectors only visible if they have more samples of both numbers which he can compare.
Of course the stamps were subject to wear end tear and if used for a longer period dots did disappear. Particularly the outermost row dots was very vulnerable. Regular a stamp felt on the ground by which dots broke off. This damaged stamp had to be used for a considerable time before a new one was supplied.
Well-known stamps with broken off dots or a whole row of dots are Amersfoort (4), Delft (22) and Leiden (68). The most obliging en easiest to find damaged stamp on a stamp is from Zevenaar (130), where the stamp in 1871 lost the topmost dot on the right. The office received after 10 years, December 3 1881 a new stamp.
64 Kampen - Big
64 Kampen - Small
There are more differences. The post offices in Hellevoetsluis (54) and Kampen (64) received about 1890 new stamps with, very striking, much smaller digits. The dimension and the shape of the dots are normal.
The difference between 54 and 64 is alas often difficult to see because the clearness of these smaller numbers is very poor.
Order of issue:
April 1, 1869 the at the time 135 existing post offices has been supplied, in alphabetical order, with the numeral stamp. The same day the numbers 136 through 138 were given to three railway offices.
Bergen op Zoom
Sas van Gend
Wijk bij duurstede
Railway post office
Railway post office
Railway post office
Soon after this date a new post office was established (Oisterwijk), which became stamp number 1551. The numbers 139 through 150 has been passed over and reserved for railway offices. Hereafter followed new offices in Scheveningen (152) and Osch (153) and so on. The alphabetical order fell into decay. It became a chronological succession from new opened post offices. Only if the numeral stamp was supplied to more than one office on the same day, the alphabetical order has kept. This went on till stamp 257 (Middelharnis), which December 1, 1890 was delivered.
Hereafter the Postal Administration filled up the caps. Thirst of all the stamps 21 and 25 of two closed offices has been supplied to other post offices and the numbers 139 through 150 were asigned from which only stamp 141 was handed over to a railway office. After number 150 there was nothing more to insert and the series above 257 continued.
Only Soest (258) and Waddinxveen (259) were supplied. The last one on June 1, 1893, while two days later the responsible Minister abolished that the numeral stamp from June 15, 1893 became abolished.
One can understand that the last (and highest) number is very rare, taking into account that within a period of 20 years of use of the numeral stamp, number 259 only has been used for fourteen days.
Stamp 21 original was supplied to Delfshaven in 1869 but was taken off when the office became a sub-office of Rotterdam en started using number 91.
The numeral stamp 21 was handed-in to the Postal Services, which delivered this number again to Emmen on april 1, 1891. A new stamp indeed but with the same number.
One can be pretty much sure that a stamp with stamp 21 comes from Emmen because this practicallyexclusive stamps are with a perforation of 12.5 large holes for the emissions 1872 and 1876 and all stamps from the emission 1891.
Numeral stamp 25 has been used by Dirksland till the abolition as post office from December 16 1890. The office was degraded to sub-office and was no longer allowed to use the numeral stamp. Only a few months later, April 1, 1891 the stamp was handed-over to 's-Gravenland.
To establish the office of shipment is very difficult. 'Fortunately' the stamp was heavily damaged in Dirksland. From 1875 the whole topmost row dots dissapeared. So all stamps, canceled in Dirksland from that date are recognizable. 's-Gravenland received a new, intact specimen.
A third office, Nijverdal, established as post office on January 1, 1881 received numeral stamp 206. The office was degraded to sub-office from October 1. The number never has been supplied to another office again.
Not only the stamps distributed to the post offices showed differences but also the name of several offices changed in the period of use of the numeral stamp.
Stamp 13 for example was supplied to Bommel, an abbreviation of Zalt Bommel. From 1870 this last name has been used in date stamps. From 1883 the name changed again in Zaltbommel.
Numeral stamp 20. At the time of establishment of this office the name Culemborg was used. At date of receiving the numeral stamp in 1869 the name has been changed in Culenborg, in 1883 changed to Kuilenburg (never used in a date stamp) and finally the name changed back to Culemborg.
More places in the Netherlands have undergone a bigger or smaller name change. This could be an actual change of name or only the name used in stamps bij the postal services. Places with a story about the spelling of the office name are for example: Koevorden - Coevorden, Borculo - Borkeloo, Oirschot - Oorschot, but also Meerssen - Meersen, Ijsselstein - Ijselstein and the most famous one Doesborgh - Doesburg. And all of that in the period of use of the discussed stamp.
Also the story about Terneuzen is worth mentioning. At the time the numeral stamp has been taken into use the name Neuzen-Ter has been the usual name in departure stamps. That's the reason this town at the time of distribution of the numeral stamps (in alphabetical order) is ranged under this name. A few years later the name Ter-Neuzen has been used and finally changed in Terneuzen.
The differences in the stamps and the changes in the office names are exclusive to see on letters with a distinctly departure stamp.
At first the 'Two-letter stamp' has been used as date stamp with two letters in the hour-indication. 'M' and 'A' for 'Morgen of Middag (morning or Afternoon) and 'Avond' (evening).
From april 11, 1877 the 'smallround' stamp was introduced with only one letter in the hour-indication. The 'V' of 'Voormiddag' (morning) and the 'N' of 'Namiddag' (afternoon).
Letter, send February 1874 from Delft with two-letter stamp 8M - 12M.
Letter, send Octobre 1889 from Leiden with smallround stamp 3 - 4N.
Main post offices and sub-offices used the numerical stamp to invalidate the stamps on letters. Likewise did some railway- and temporary offices. Sub-offices used stamps with the same number the main office used where they belong to but had their own date stamp. A letter from sub-offices with numerical stamp and date stamp which mention the name of that sub-office is very rare. A well- known sub-office is 'Amsterdam - Spiegelstraat' but even a letter from this office with both the date stamp and the numeral stamp is very rare.
Branch-offices were not entitled to devaluate the stamps with a stamp en were supposed to send the letters to the main office they belonged tot. In this office, the stamp was devaluated with the numeral stamp and a date stamp was placed.
To determine the office of shipment, the branch-office placed a 'Long stamp' with the name of that office.
Below an example of a letter which was send from Barsingerhorn, via Schagen to Petten.
Letter, send March 19, 1876 from Barsingerhorn to Petten.
In the circular of march 16, 1869 about the introduction of the new stamp they mentioned that the next three railway post offices numeral stamps would receive.
136: Amsterdam - Emmerik
137: Arnhem - Bentheim
138: Moerdijk - Antwerpen
Almost 3 years later, march 1, 1872, the next office was added to that list:
You wil never come across a letter with numeral stamp 137 and date stamp Arnhem - Bentheim, because the used name in stamps those years was Arnhem - Oldenzaal.
The appelation Moerdijk - Antwerpen needs an axplanation. At the time of introduction of the numeral stamp the name in stamps was Moerdijk - Antwerpen. Because the section constantly was lengthened, the name changed also constantly. From Novembre 1, 1872, when the railway bridge crossing the Moerdijk was opened, the name changed in Fijenoord - Antwerpen. January 1876 the name changed in Rotterdam - Antwerpen and finaly in Amsterdam - Antwerpen.
In the period of use of the numeral stamp a lot of changes have been in the names of the railway post offices. Greatest reason was splitting up, lengthening and junction of railway sections.
Station offices at the time were seen as branche offices and received no numeral stamp. Only sub-offices were provided with a stamp with the same number as the post office.
Exception was the Station office in Arnhem. (Arnhem - Station) that was considered to be a sub-office. The removal from this office between 1890 and 1900 to a building outside the station confirms this.
Letter, send December 1, 1885 from Arnhem with departure stamp 'Arnhem - Station'.
About the preceding facts, changes of names, railway offices, branche offices, sub-offices is so much to say, but its a great pity that philatelic material is so rare.
Use of the discussed stamp was made obligatory to destroy the stamps on letters and receipts but not allowed on postcards and printed cards. Postcards with numeral stamp exsist but are rare and known from only a few places.
On the postcard above, send from Groningen on October 27, 1880 the devaluation of the stamp is done correctly. The printed stamp is destroyed with the date stamp and the affixed stamp (for postage reason) is according the regulations destroyed with the numeral stamp.
On the contrary the printed stamp on postcard above, send on october 30, 1877 from Dordrecht to Antwerpen, is against all regulations devaluated with the (double) numeral stamp 29. Especially the places Culemborg (20) en Dordrecht (29) be guilty with this
At the same time the introduction of the numeral stamp was announced in 1869, a circular mentioned that from December 15, 1869 a regulation came into effect that all cancelations on letters, postcards and other postal matters must be done in black ink but different colored cancelations exists.
At first the switch from red to black ink was the cause that numeral cancelations in red ink exists. Purple and blue cancelations are often caused by a black stamp on a colored ink-pad.
Stamps with a color.
Also on receipts numeral stamps were used.
If a receipt had to be paid, one could collect the money thru the Postal Administration which had special bank messenger engaged. For this one had to pay legal charges.
For this purpose special receipt stamp were available but postage stamps were also allowed which were devaluated by means of a numeral stamp.
This caused a lot of political trouble.
The revenues of the receiptstamps ended in the cash-box of another Ministry than the revenues of the postage stamps.
Buying a stamp wasn't as common in former days as it is nowadays and mostly purchased at the moment a letter had to be send.
This is the mean reason of extreme rarity of numeral stamps on the emissions 1852 and 1854, although these stamps could be used for 10 years within the numeral stamp period.
One can imagine that from places with a great commerce and business much more letters were send than from little towns with an agrarian population. Relatives never lived far away and the postage was a reason to avoid sending a letter too. Compared with wages earlier, nowadays a letter would have a postage rate of € 6,00.
This, and the short or longer period a numeral stamp had been used in a post office are the mean reasons e certain number is common or very rare.
In the 'Collection of orders' nr. 17, dated June 3, 1893, the post offices were informed of the abolition of the numeral stamp from June 15, 1893 and replaced by date stamps.
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