A Jewel on a Stamp
Dutch Postal History

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Here is the extraordinary story about a stamp with no value, and yet valid for domestic postage of 0.80 HFL within The Netherlands for one single day, 29th June 1998.  As the stamp had only one day of postal validity, the postal cancellation serves at the same time as an FD-cancel.

  • Holland 1998.  Machine-cancelled cover, cancelled on the official and only date of validity for postage, 29th June 1998 (22 hours), in Amsterdam, to an address in Amsterdam.  The stamp is printed on self-adhesive paper, with simulated perforations.  
  • Holland 1998.  A close-up of the stamp and the cancellation. 

The very nice design is a zero (for the non-value) built up of gems (jewels) on red velvet, explaining the word "jewel" in the public  announcement.  Further, the term "Juweeltje" means in Dutch also something nice or beautiful.  The "Ct" stands for "Cent", but since the stamp has no postal value, it could also stand for "carat" (in connection with gems). 

The story behind 
Up to 1989 the Dutch postal service was owned by the government.  In 1989 PTT NEDERLAND (Post, Telegraaf, Telefoon) became independent under the name of KPN (Koninklijke PTT Nederland).  The new body, after a while, wanted to split up in two different companies, one for the mail service, "PTT Post", and another one for the telephone service, "PTT Telecom". The intention was to bring the mail company "PTT Post" on the stock market, and eventually it became the first mail company in the world introduced on the stock market.  

In order to bring the event to the attention of the public a big advertising campaign was launched already in 1997.  One of the actions taken was to inform the public that the Post would give every household in the Netherlands a present.  In the beginning of each new year (first half of January) the post delivered always a folder with a price list to all households, in which the public could read what kind of services the Post offered, as well as planned changes for the upcoming year.  Included were also cards with which customers could get special offers for free or with a discount. 

In early 1998, 12th and 13th January, the annual folder was distributed, and enclosed was a sheet of paper with a self-adhesive stamp on it. The text says, roughly translated:

This stamp is worth 80 cents on the day PTT Post will be introduced on the stock market. 

This jewel is valid as postage for letters and cards up to 20 grams for destinations in the Netherlands.

However, the exact date of going on the stock market was still unknown, but in the beginning of June that same year the Dutch PTT finally announced that on June 29th, 1998, the introduction to the stock market would take place. So on that day, and only that day, the "0" cent stamp had a value of 80 cents.  

As a curiosum, there exists at least one variety of the cover. The cover on the left is hand-cancelled in Amsterdam-Haagendoorn on 27th June 1998 at 17 hours.  

It remains a mystery how the stamp could be cancelled and postally handled two days before the official and only day of validity.  

Both covers belong to the webmaster's collection. 

It is unknown in how many copies the 0-stamp was printed, but as it was delivered to each Dutch household a fair guestimate would be around  3.750.000 copies.  

PTT/TPG hasn't released any official information about this question.  .  However, it is assumed that many households lost (or displaced) their stamp included in the folder distributed in January 1998, before it was valid for use 5 months later, as only very few stamps have actually been used for its purpose.  

Sources and links: 

Many thanks to Mr. Henk Burgman, Mr. Rein Bakhuizen van den Brink, and Mr. Ton van Reenen  (all from The Netherlands), for providing all information.

Revised 02 nov 2006 
Copyright © by Ann Mette Heindorff
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