Already in 1857 the “Statsrevisjonen” indicated the production of a new series of stamps, and in 1860 we find references to printing tests made by Captain C.E. Schwenzen and his firm “Lithografisk officin i Christiania”. The contract was signed 15. september 1862, ordering 8 million 4-skilling stamps. Since the Sweedish king Oscar I passed away during 1859, the stamp was designed to show the Norwegian lion holding St.Olaf´s axe, quite similar to the image found on the first Norwegian stamp produced. We should be in mind of the wave of nationalism in this period, with the romantizising of the norwegian culture shown in both art, litterature and language, especially in the period of 1840 to 1870. The St.Olafs axe and the Lion are both symbols reflecting this.
The test-prints were made on cardboard paper with different colours. The examples shown here are the only known copies, and was a part of Moldenhauers collection, recently sold at an auction.
The stamps were produced using a printing method called “steintrykk”. This printing method is based on engravings on a stone, or in this case on four stones set in a block. This block was then duplicated 25 times to fill the sheet of 100 stamps. A single printing plate was strong enough to be used to print 1 million stamps, enough to make the following issues just using a single plate: 2 skilling, 3 skilling, 8 skilling and 24 skilling. For the 4-skilling stamps, they created two plates to be able to print enough stamps.
Each of the 4-blocks of original stones all have different engravings, giving us the option to collect a set of prints from each plate they used in the production of the stamp.
We find many manual repairs on these two plates, since they were used to make 8 million stamps in total, creating alot of wear and tear during that process.
(to be continued…)