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H.C. Andersen
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In loving memory of Charlotte Kappel 
(1877-1975), who triggered my interest 
for H.C. Andersen and his Universe 

H.C. Andersen was a multi-talented artist.  Not only did he write the wonderful fairy tales that gained him world fame, he also illustrated many of them with his own elegant paper cuts, immortalized on Danish Christmas Seals 1975, the year Denmark commemorated his 100th death anniversary. 

The Danish Christmas Seals from 2005 will conclude the philatelic celebration of H.C. Andersen during his bicentenary. On 1st November 2005 the Danish Christmas Seal Foundation released the annual Christmas seals, designed by John Andersen,on the basis of Andersen's paper cuts. The sheet consists of 50 labels in 25 se-tenant pairs as shown. In the upper selvedge is the author's characteristic profile in red. You will recognize many of the paper cuts on the sheet shown elsewhere on this page. 

H.C. Andersen. Sheet of Danish Christmas Seals 2005, commemmorating Andersen through his paper cuts.

Below is a close-up of a pair of Christmas Seals 1975, taken from the upper right corner of the sheet.  The sheet contains 50 different seals with a variety of paper cuts by Andersen.  Click here for an image of the full sheet.  The link will open in a new window.  

On the sheet you will see paper cuts illustrating "The Windmill" (1865), "The Tinder-Box" (1835), "The Ugly Duckling" (1844), "The Storks" (1838), and more, all adorned with cuts of snow crystals (in white) and a theatre mask (in gold), the latter probably inspired by Andersen's work as a dramatist for the Danish National Theatre. 

The theatre mask is also the official logo of the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense. 

These seals are highly collectible, particularly on a contemporary cover or greeting card, franked with correct postage for the time. 

To close the ring from commemorating his 100th death anniversary on Danish Christmas Seals in 1975, to his 100th birth anniversary in 1905, I have found an ancient Danish book that was published on 2nd April 1905.  The title is "Picture Book with Pictures" [as opposed to his fairy tale "Picture Book without Pictures" -- also known as "What the Moon Saw"], and contains images of his most well known paper cuts, all signed by himself.  The book was given to me by my grand-mother Charlotte Kappel, who lived in Odense -- H.C. Andersen's birth place -- most of her life, and who has taken me to visit H.C. Andersen's Childhood Home whenever I was vacationing with her during the 1940s and 1950s.  

Below are two allegory cuts, both signed by Andersen.  If you look closely at them, you will see that Andersen has personalized them, in that they are not totally symmetric like paper cuts made from folded paper.  When the cut was finished and unfolded, Andersen has simply removed some details on either the left or the right side, to give them more "perspective".  

  • On the foot of the cut Andersen has written in his own convoluted handwriting "Klippet af H.C. Andersen" [Clipping by H.C.  Andersen]


  • On the foot of the cut Andersen himself has written this note: "Storken har fået Benet i Halsen, og ikke på det rette sted.  H.C. Andersen"  [The Stork has got his leg right up in his neck, and not where it ought to be. H.C. Andersen]

Below is a very special one, appearing in negative.  It is unknown whether it was cut in black or white paper, but it must have been Andersen's intention to make it appear in negative, since on the foot he has personally written "Det seer sort ud!"  [It's looking dark here!]

Andersen's own paper cuts illustrating his fairy tales are shown on these pages: 

Link to images of more paper cuts: 

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Revised 02-nov-2005. Ann Mette Heindorff
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