A few days before Christmas in 1906, something showed up in post offices in the Netherlands that had never been seen before.
An unusual set of three stamps, each of which depicts the four ways scientists of the era believed Tuberculosis was fought. Light, water, air, and food.
These were the first semi-postal stamps issued by the Netherlands, and each time a set was sold, 9 cents went to the Dutch Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis.
These were among the world’s first semi-postal stamps, where the face value is matched, or supplemented by an additional value. The funds are typically designated for a specific charitable organization aligned with the stamp’s topic.
In 1906, this was a revolutionary concept. The Netherlands was the first European country to issue semi-postal stamps.
Other nations soon followed.
Switzerland in 1913, France, in 1914, Italy in 1915, Germany in 1919, Luxembourg in 1921, and Spain in 1926.
Portugal, curiously, has never released a semi-postal stamp.
It took a different route, and began to issue so called franchise stamps in 1886. These were indirect fund-raisers, provided to charitable organizations by the Portuguese government to cover their postage expenses.
As you might expect, The Red Cross was a beneficiary of this. But between 1899 and 1910, Portugal issued also franchise stamps for Civilian Rifle Clubs.
The world’s first semi-postal was released in 1897 by New South Wales and Victoria to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
But on January 31, 1907, less than five weeks after the first Netherlands semi-postals went on sale, something else noteworthy happened in the world of stamps.
Postal officials applied a “cancel to order” on the majority of the Tuberculosis stamps. Today, finding this set postally used can be difficult. Even more difficult is finding the set mint never hinged.
Throughout the years, the fascinating tradition of semi postal stamps has been carried on in the Netherlands.
If you would like to see some of these stamps from my Netherlands stock, please visit my online store.