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Encased Stamps are regular postage stamps inserted into a small coin-size case with a transparent front or back of mica or cellophane.  Such stamps were circulated as legal tender during periods when coins were scarce. The earliest known use of encased stamps in Denmark was in 1921. Due to scarcity of small change in Southern Jutland after the reunion of Northern Schleswig with Denmark in 1920, the Postal Directorate General decided to issue 10-øre and 25-øre stamp-coins to be used as postal coins. 

These coins were only sent out to the post offices in Southern Jutland, but all post offices in metropolitan Denmark were obliged to accept these coins as legal tender, and they circulated freely between citizens. 

The stamps used for this purpose was Kronborg Castle (Scott #156, AFA #112) from the so-called Re-unification Set issued in 1920, and King Christian X, 25-øre brown/black (Scott #107, AFA 101), issued 1918. 

Denmark 1920. Kronborg Castle from the Reunion set, used for the production of postal coins. 

  • Denmark 1920. Kronborg Castle from the Reunion set, used for the production of postal coins. In 2000, Kronborg Castle was designated World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO. 

The company A/S Postreklamen was commissioned to encase the stamps between a circular metal plate and a piece of circular cellophane. The production as such was paid by American Tobacco Company in Copenhagen, who in return was admitted to have their ads inserted on the reverse side of the coin. Ten different ads are known to exist: Capstan, Cora, Cremo, Encore, Flag, Melba, Moss Rose, Nebo, Omar, and Star. 

Denmark 1921. Obverse side of a Danish postal coin with the 10-øre stamp of Kronborg Castle encased. Denmark 1921. Reverse side of a Danish postal coin, with an ad for "Smoke Encore Cigarettes Cork-Tipped". 

The distribution of the coins took place from 14th April to 25th July 1921, and the coins were withdrawn from circulation on 30th April 1922. 

At the withdrawal were missing 134,102 of the 10-øre coins, and 109,127 of the 25-øre coins. The better part of the missing coins are considered non-existent, insofar that the encased stamps are likely to have been removed from the coins to be used as ordinary postage. 

  • Denmark 1921. Obverse side of a Danish postal coin with the 10-øre stamp of Kronborg Castle encased. 
  • Denmark 1921. Reverse side of the same coin, with an ad for "Smoke Encore Cigarettes Cork-Tipped". 

In Denmark further four ordinary postage stamps are known as "encased stamps": the 1933-1939 issues (steel engravings) of 1 øre black (Scott #220, AFA #196), 2 øre scarlet (Scott #221, AFA #197), 5 øre rose lake (Scott #224, AFA #246), and 10 øre brown (Scott #228, AFA #235). The scans are slightly blurred because of the cellophane encasing. 

These stamps were used as small change during World War II, when the Nazis confiscated most copper coins to be melted down for military purposes. For this reason small change was scarce, so the citizens (mainly companies) created their own small changes and added a bit of advertising to the back.  The name of the company on the back of the stamp- coin might have given such change some authority - and at least the benefit of "free advertising" :-)  Contrary to the postal coins issued in 1921 (see above), all of these were privately produced around 1941, and no-one was obliged to accept them as payment. 

Denmark 1933. 1 øre black (Scott #220, AFA #196). Denmark 1933. Reverse side of 1 øre black (encased) with an ad from "The Yellow Shop", a stamp dealer in Copenhagen. Denmark 1933. 2 øre scarlet (Scott #221, AFA #197). Denmark 1938. 5 øre rose lake (Scott #224, AFA #246). Denmark 1938. 10 øre brown (Scott #228, AFA #235).
  • Denmark 1933. 1 øre black (Scott #220, AFA #196).

  • idem, reverse side with an ad from "The Yellow Shop", a stamp dealer in Copenhagen. This shop still exists (in 2006). Around 2000 different such ads are known to exist. 

  • Denmark 1933. 2 øre scarlet (Scott #221, AFA #197). 

  • Denmark 1938. 5 øre rose lake (Scott #224, AFA #246). 

  • Denmark 1938. 10 øre brown (Scott #228, AFA #235).  

The last variety of such use of Danish stamps is unique and dates back to 1989. That year all current 1-, 2-, 5- and 10 øre coins were withdrawn, and the lowest value of Danish coins was from now on 25 øre. (At the same time the 50-øre coin was re-introduced, having been out of use since World War II). This change was vital for companies using franking-machines, where the last digit was permanently fixed to "0" (zero) -- and could not be changed voluntarily -- but the postage needed would end with the digit "5" (cfr. the lowest value of Danish coins being now 25 øre). Confronted with this problem the then Post Master General replied, that if a customer wanted to purchase a stamp at the post office with face value dkr 3,20 against payment of dkr 3,25, he would in addition receive a 5-øre stamp. He seemed to have forgotten that (although still valid for postage) the 5-øre stamp was no longer for sale at the post office.

To this end the 5-øre wavy line in orange colour was issued for two purposes: add-ups on the postage printed by a franking machine -- such add-ups were in use as late as 1993, see below -- and also to be used as "postal change" when purchasing for example a 20-øre stamp and pay it with a 25-øre coin. This stamp has never been legal tender in other contexts than postal use. All Danish postage stamps issued 1933 and later, are still valid for postage, no matter their denomination, but some are no longer for (public) sale. 

Denmark 1989. 5 øre orange, issued for add-ups and small change (Scott #793, AFA #943). 

Franking machine postage of 370 øre. The correct postage was 375 øre, so the letter has an add-up of 5 øre orange. Cancelled in Copenhagen 18th January 1993. 

  • Denmark 1989. 5 øre orange, issued for add-ups and small change (Scott #793, AFA #943). 

  • Franking machine postage of 370 øre. The correct postage was 375 øre, so the letter has an add-up of 5 øre orange. Cancelled in Copenhagen 18th January 1993. 

Other than Denmark, encased stamps are known to have been used in the United States, France, Austria, Germany, and Italy. Below are shown a few samples. As these varieties of postage stamps are turned into "coins" by commercial companies, they may not be listed in the stamp catalogues, but in numismatic catalogues only, even if they are legal for their purpose.  Any additional information about these specific stamps will be welcomed.  

Upper row shows the obverse side, and lower row the reverse side of the encased stamps. 

France (1906), 5c.  - Spidoleine, Huile pour Autos (Oil for Autos) Austria (1922), ½ Kron - Karl Heinel Heuriger Grinzing (White Wine of new harvest) Deutsches Reich (1902), 5 pf. - Trinkt Rüberg's Liköre (Drink Liquors from Rüberg)  Italy (1906), 10 cmi  - Gomme Pirelli, Milano  Deutsches Reich (1921), 5 pf. - Nestle's Kindermehl wieder zu haben (Nestle's Children Flour again available)
  • France (1906), 5c.  - Spidoleine, Huile pour Autos (Oil for Autos)
  • Austria (1922), ½ Kron - Karl Heinel Heuriger Grinzing (White Wine of new harvest)
  • Deutsches Reich (1902), 5 pf. - Trinkt Rüberg's Liköre (Drink Liquors from Rüberg) 
  • Italy (1906), 10 cmi  - Gomme Pirelli, Milano 
  • Deutsches Reich (1921), 5 pf. - Nestle's Kindermehl wieder zu haben (Nestle's Children Flour again available)

Postcard sent from Constantinople (Turkey) to Stuttgart in Germany, cancelled on 20th December 1910, using the above Italian stamp. 

Postcard sent from Constantinople (Turkey) to Stuttgart in Germany, cancelled on 20th December 1910, using the above Italian stamp. Reverse side.

  • Postcard sent from Constantinople (Turkey) to Stuttgart in Germany, cancelled on 20th December 1910, using the above Italian stamp. 
  • The reverse side of the same postcard. 

An interesting example of paper-money -- but not encased stamps -- comes from Russia 1915. The set to the right, issued 1913, are ordinary postage stamps, Scott # 93, 95 and 96, being part of a larger set issued in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty.  

The outbreak of World War I caused immense damages to the Russian population, and because of the inflation the same stamps were re-issued in 1915, Scott # 105-107, and authorized as paper money. They were printed on thin cardboard paper and with no gum. 

The Russian text on the back says: "Having circulation on par with silver subsidiary coins".  

In 1916 the situation worsened, and stamps of 1, 2 and 3 kopeks value appeared as paper money, but now only with the value of a copper coin.  

The inflation and shortage of money was one of the reasons for the downfall of the Russian monarchy.  In 1920 the Bolshevik Government began to return silver coins to the population, and because of this gesture immediately received some popularity in the public.  

Russia 1915. Romanov Dynasty used as paper money. Scott #105-107. 

  • Russia 1915. Romanov Dynasty used as paper money. Scott #105-107. 

Sources and links: 

Many thanks to Mr. Jørgen Sømod (Denmark) for contributing the facts about Danish postal coins and encased stamps, and to Mr. Zarmen Makarian (Russia), for contributing the historical facts about the Russian stamps.  


Revised 02 nov 2006 
Copyright © by Ann Mette Heindorff
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