Double print in 1876

Occasionally you find a stamp issue more fascinating than most, and the Swedish 20-on-20 øre issue strikes me as such a stamp. An event forgotten and rediscovered decades later, and a story that gives the taste of the problems facing the printing of stamps in the 1870s.

The cut-out stamps to the left shows a pair sent from Malmø 23.10 1875, with a very pale 20 øre stamp to the left side. This stamp, facit 22f, was produced in 1875 in a nice red colour as the 6th print of this issue. After production, it was sent out to the postal offices around Sweden. All was well.

It did not take long though, before news of problems returned to the postal service in Sweden. The red colour was fading away, quite quickly, making the enumeration almost impossible to read.  The stamps red colour did not tolerate light after production and quickly faded away. 

It became so bad that the postal service of Sweden demanded them returned in a circular dated 9.10.1876 and overprinted it with a new 20-øre print in red, during desember 1876.  The birth of  “20 on 20 øre”, facit 23.

The double print was long unknown and was discovered as late as 1910 by the then young Wilhelm Wennberg 35 years later. , Being one of the sons of the famous Stockholm trader Harry Wennberg, he spent some time looking through 20 øre stamps, and during this discovered the double print. 

The original stamp was printed in 280,000 copies, and approximately 180,000 of them got the double print. With such small volumes, both the original faded stamp and the double-printed stamp is not easy to come by these days, especially on covers.

A similar problem occured in Norway, where the production of a 25 øre stamp in violet colour paled quite quickly when exposed to sunlight.

The three colour nuances of this double-printed stamp have the same shades as the last deliveries on the “regular” 20 øre prints. With this in mind, they should have been over-printed when they returned from the different post offices alongside the regular printing of new 20 øre stamps.

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