Nederlandse versie







In the second half of the nineteenth century the need arised to have more control on the delivery of letters. To this purpose the post offices received so-called 'numberstamps'. Every postman received his own stamp with unique number and was supposed to mark all letters to be delivered by him with this stamp on the backside. By collectors these stamps were soon called 'deliverystamps'.

Preceding the obligatory use of this stamp from the year 1867, a few large cities used own stamps to this purpose that either showed which postman delivered the letter or showed in which deliverybeat of the day the letter was delivered.
Amsterdam was the first city which used a stamp like that. From the year 1855 a little stamp was used with only a number. Soon other cities followed. Because the indistinctness this stamp was replaced by a specimen with larger characters in a circle a few years later. Several types are known with different sizes, font characters and circles.

Folded letter send on the 5th of October 1866 from Haarlem to Amsterdam
with on the back folded part the date stamp and deliverystamp 45.

Up to 1867 many different stamps were used in several places. Haarlem and Amsterdam both used a lot of variations. Other cities in those years used only one or two different types which either showed the number of the postman or which delivery of the day.
Amsterdam, for instance from 1858 till 1865, used a stamp on local letters with a little horizontal line above either of the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 which showed in which of the 5 daily beats the letter was delivered in. The same period the town Leeuwarden used a similar stamp. However, this one showed the personal number of the postman.

From the year 1867 only stamps with a fixed number were supplied, identical to the personal number of the postman. A few years later this number was added to the postman's uniform collar as shown on the fragment of an old picture postcard. At the same time the delivery was shown in the stamp with a loose font character. The character A for the first delivery of the day, the B for the second, et cetera.

Fragment of an old picture postcard with a picture of a postman with visible number on his uniform collar.

The new stamps make one's appearance in four different models.
Amsterdam in December 1867 received an elliptical model with the characters A till I for each of the nine deliveries of the day. The same day the postmen in The Hague received a rectangular stamp with beveled edges with the characters A till G. Rotterdam received rectangular stamps with the same seven characters. A few months later Utrecht received knuckle-bone shaped stamps with the letters a till G as well.

The four different models of the stamp.

To anticipate the obliged use of the deliverystamp from the 3th of September 1872, several other cities took the stamp in use a few years earlier. Dordrecht used the rectangular model with bevelled edges, equal The Hague, en Leiden the rectangular model like Rotterdam had in use. Schiedam received the knuckle-bone shaped model. It took quit a long time before all post offices were supplied with deliverystamps. The town Apeldoorn not before 1880.
The factory of the deliverystamps, established in the premises of 's-Rijks Munt in Utrecht, has made the production of the stamps for many years. Every month stamps were made with higher numbers for the cities where an expansion took place from the number of postmen. The last stamp that has been produced was a rectangular model with the number 11, intended for the post office in Sneek and delivered in the year 1901.
De post offices did not receive with every stamp for a postman a complete set of letter characters. One can imagine that a postman in Amsterdam did not do all the nine rounds in a day by himself in his district. At first, the Dutch Postal Administration proposed a different model for the fifth town which would receive deliverystamps but finally they decided to choose one of the four existing ones. In the years afterwards, the Postal Administration has asked oneselve the same question but always choosed an existing model. From 1906 only the rectangular model with bevelled edges has been provided to post offices.

The stamp consists of a letter and a number in a border. Every stamp had a fixed number and an opening where a loose letter could be placed by the postman. A spring made changing letters easier. Before every round the postman was supposed to change the letter before he stamped the letters and printed matters with his deliverystamp, and that sometimes results into a nice curiosity.

Postcard with a deliverystamp where the letter A, meaning
the first delivery of the day, is placed upside down.

Postcard with the letter B placed upside down.

Use of the deliverystamp was made obligatory. The subjoined postcard shows that if no stamp was available the postman still wanted to meet one's obligation and choose for another solution. The pencil. By lack of a stamp he used a pencil so in a later stage the postman and the delivery round still could be checkep up on it.

Postman 251 and the second delivery of the day.

On the other hand the deliverystamp was used by postmen if they discovered that the stamp on a letter not was cancelled with the for that purpose used datestamp. This is for collectors much more fun than the nowadays used method of a stroke of the pen across the stamp.

Annulment of postage stamp with deliverystamp.

Postal stationary cancelled with deliverystamp B.35

All letters and postcards were initially cancelled with the deliverystamp on the backside, but because this side often fully was written with text, a few months later, from 1873 they started with cancellation on the adress side.

Backside of a postcard from 1873 with deliverystamp.

From 1877, in several large cities the head postmen received own stamps which differed qua shape from the normally used deliverystamp. This stamp was used by officials who in the post offices supervised the delivery of letters and postcards.
Furthermore they were engaged in sifting out letters with incomplete adresses and return to sender the undeliverable letters. The stamp only contained the personal number of the postmanman.

Head postman 41 from The Hague.

The head postman was also in charge of managing the letter characters which he before every delivery round distributed to the postmen. After every round he collected these characters.

From the 1st of May 1875 a regulation for postmen took effect, in which with regard to undeliverable letters came into force the next order.

Art. 14. "The letters which are undeliverable in one district, get the word "onbekend" and be hand over to the oldest postman on duty of the next district and so further from district to ditrict, with the restriction that no letter longer than the time of two rounds in one district may be held".

A letter or postcard that could'nt be delivered at the given adress, was after intervention of the head mailman and after the word "onbekend" has been written on the letter, handed over to the postman of an other district. This postman checked if the mentioned person on the letter lived in his quarter and also placed his deliverystamp on it. That's the reason that letters and postcards exist with more than one deliverystamp and several handwritten notes.

Up here you see a postcard with incomplete adress. The card could'nt be delivered by postman 784 during the first delivery round of the day (A) and was after returning in the post office handed over to the head postmen. This officer found out that the gentlemen had his resident in another street (see written note). He placed his head deliverystamp (20) and handed the letter over to postman 440 of that district.
This postman took the card, placed his personal stamp and propably delivered the letter in the second delivery round of the day.

Below you see an example the way it mostly went.

The adressee was unknown or the adres was incomplete and the letter ended up in the hands of the head postman. This officer showed the letter to every postman in the office and asked if they knew the adressed person and if he reside in his district.
Every postman placed his personal stamp on the letter in token he had seen it. Because the letters not actual were taken along the district every delivery round, only stamps were placed without the letter which stated the round.
The more postmen were talked to by the head postman, the more stamps were placed on the letter.

Picture postcard from France to The Hague, handled by head mailman 3.

A large number of collectors would place this card aside with mostly to heavy cancelled for a reason and the fact that every visible stamp on the card is without any value.

By the expansion of the big cities the undeliverable letters became unsightly examples of different deliverystamps and hand written notes besides the fact that on postcards and postal stationary not enough free space available was for a larger number of stamps.

To avoid this, some large cities used small printed list which were attached to the backside of the letter.

The deliverystamps had to be placed behind the numbers of the districts. Rotterdam used from 1912 a list with "Onbekend" under which 1st district . . . 20th district and Utrecht a simular list with "Onbekend te Utrecht", with 1st district . . . 8th district besides 8 unnumbered districtsreferences.

List as used in The Hague with 1st district . . . 18th district
and a stamp with "onbekend te 's-Gravenhage".


Around 1915 they stopped the production and supplying of deliverystamps and the obliged use of the stamp was abolished.
The use of the stamps in the post offices subside slowly and it last till 1930 before this well-known stamp entirely not has been used any more.

Copyright: 2007