Hans Christian Andersen

Philatelic Celebration of the International Hans Christian Andersen Year
Latest update: 02-nov-2006


Being Danish, I grew up with Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales as an important part of my "mental luggage", and the world famous Danish poet and story teller, his life and work has always fascinated me.  In 2005 Denmark will celebrate his 200th birth anniversary; and as this year has also been declared the International Andersen-Year, this website is a philatelic tribute to the Danish national poet in his international year 2005.  

On 2nd March 2005, Denmark has released a set of four stamps in honour of our great countryman, depicting him on a portrait, and allegorically as an artist, as a story teller, and a travelling man.  

Introduction Tales (Continued) Tales (Continued)
- Andersen's Life - The Swineherd  - The Fir Tree
Tales - The Nightingale  - The Old House 
- The Tinder Box  - The Ugly Duckling  - The Ice Maiden 
- Thumbelina  - The Red Shoes Other Works
- The Princess and the Pea  - The Elder-Tree Mother  - Paper Cuts 
- The Naughty Boy  - The Snow Queen  Miscellaneous 
- The Emperor's New Clothes - The hepherdess and Chimney Sweep  - Postmarks 
- The Storks  - The Little Match-Girl  - Pharmacy Envelopes 
- The Wild Swans  - Little Tuk   - Paper Money 
- The Brave Tin Soldier  - The Shadow  - Tourism 
- The Garden of Paradise   - The Fairest  Rose in the World  - Checklist
- The Flying Trunk  - Numskull Jack  - Useful links  
- The Little Mermaid  - The Marshking's Daughter   - Bibliography
- What the Moon Saw  - The Snow Man  - Feedback
- The Sandman  - What Pops Does Is Always Right 

H.C. Andersen being for children of all ages, not less than 31 of his fairy tales have been illustrated on one or more stamps, including c. 30 Disney-stamps, together with Danish Christmas Seals from 1975 and 1994, the latter also illustrating some of his fairy tales.  Many of his tales depict characters that gain happiness in life after suffering and conflicts. Although written more than a century ago, his tales are still as fresh and enchanting today as they were then. 

In total Andersen wrote 174 tales, 156 of which were published during his lifetime, 30 plays, 14 novels and novellas, 12 travelogues, some 800 poems and a wealth of biographic works and articles.  He often claimed that his own life was the ultimate key to his work. I have, to the best of my knowledge, tried to find all relevant stamp issues, but may have missed some.  

Further, this site contains a number of Andersen's famous paper cuts, some of which are reproduced on Danish pharmacy-envelopes, and labels on match-boxes. 

If any of the visitors to this site knows of more stamps illustrating Andersen's fairy tales, or stamps related to Andersen, or knows about coming issues, I will be happy to receive any information about them.  Eventually see the existing checklist, that is fully updated. 

  • The photograph shows the Andersen-statue in Central Park, New York City, reading "The Ugly Duckling" to the public, and the duckling looking at Andersen by his right foot. :-)  
    Photograph © Mrs. Kirsten Petersen (Denmark).

Some people find that his stories of transformation were not just for children, nor were they as sentimental as Disney and Danny Kaye would have had us believe. Though they may feature courage and love and the kindness of strangers, five out of every six stories also deal with death. Some stories are pantheist, some psychological. Some are science fiction, others satirical, and often they are parables of freedom, which still resonate. 

"In our modern age of spin-doctors and public relations, Andersen's wise eye sees through cant and hype".  (BBC News)

Even in his own day, Hans Christian Andersen was acknowledged as one of the most original European authors. His fame spreading throughout the world his fairy tales have been translated into more than 150 languages, and Hans Christian Andersen is the Danish author whose timeless fairy tales have enthralled both children and adults alike. 

Millions of people throughout the world recognize the name Hans Christian Andersen without perhaps knowing that the man himself was Danish, because his wonderful stories have migrated across frontiers and become naturalized. In China for example, Andersen is known as An Tu Shung, which translates roughly as "teacher of peace and compassion". Russians think he is Russian, Germans believe him to be German, and Hans Andersen has of course long been a staple of nurseries all over the world.  

Andersen's breakthrough novel was 'Fairy Tales and Stories' in which he explored new avenues in content and style by introducing the constructions of dialect: a radical idea in Danish literature. His association with the outcast and the disaffected -- feelings of which he experienced first-hand in his youth -- made his tales universally appealing. Andersen died in his home at Rolighed -- a Danish estate in the northern outskirts of Copenhagen -- on August 4, 1875.  

During 2005 Denmark has appointed many H.C. Andersen Ambassadors to promote the knowledge about this extraordinary Dane. 

One of them is Crown Princess Mary of Denmark who, during her and Crown Prince Frederik's official visit to her native Australia in March 2005 unveiled a new bronze statue of Andersen in Sydney.  

The statue is placed in front of the Sydney Opera, which was built by another great Dane, the architect Jorn Utzon (*1919).  

Hans Christian Andersen was capable of so much more than just writing fairy tales.  He was a critical journalist, fascinated by the emergent science and the technological breakthroughs of the 19th century; the railway, photography and the telegraph.  He was also an excellent visual artist, who set new artistic standards with his collages, paper cuttings and flower arrangements.  His urge to cut and paste was as great as his urge to travel and write, and he never went anywhere without his scissors and a pen. Many of his paper cuts are shown on this site. 

Many people have contributed to this website in many ways, and I thank them all heartily.  For credits and acknowledgements, please see the Bibliography

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For those who are interested in reading the stories related to the stamps, they are given on the individual pages, together with scans of the original illustrations by Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frølich.  To read tales not illustrated on stamps, and therefore not shown on this site, please refer to Zvi Har'El's comprehensive website about H.C. Andersen 

This website was first published in 1999 as part of my ancient site "Travelling The World On Art Stamps"  and has been continuously updated since then. With the help of a friend, Mr. Zvi Har'El (Israel), who is also a great lover of H.C. Andersen, this site will give an overview of Andersen's life, and show philatelic material from all the world, issued to illustrate some of his most well known fairy tales. Already in the late 1990s Zvi published a comprehensive Andersen web-o-graphy (see link below) in memory of his son Gilead (1977-1996), and has now graciously permitted me to use any of his information needed for setting up this site.  

In H.C. Andersen's International Year it is appropriate to allocate its own space.  


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Revised 02-nov-2006. Ann Mette Heindorff
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