Kronborg Castle (2000)

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Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, 50 km north of the capital Copenhagen, is known in many contexts.  It was built in 1585 by King Christian IV as a bastion of defense against hostile ships sailing the very small strait (only 4 km) between Denmark and Sweden, and also to make sure that all ships sailing the strait paid the dues for passing.  If they didn't, they could be sure to be hit by the canons of Kronborg.  

Denmark 1985. Kronborg Castle. Denmark 1920. Kronborg Castle. Denmark 1969. Kronborg Castle.

An interesting use of the above (red) 10-øre stamp is seen in this postal token from 1920. Due to immediate lack of small change in Southern Jutland after the reunification with Denmark in 1920, the Postal Directorate General decided to issue 10-øre and 25-øre stamps to be used as postal tokens. These tokens were only sent out to the post offices in Southern Jutland, but all post offices in Denmark were obliged to accept these coins as legal tender. 

Denmark 1921. Averse side of a Danish postal token with the 10-øre stamp of Kronborg Castle encased.

The company A/S Postreklamen was commisioned to encase the stamps between a circular metal plate and a piece of circular celluloid. The production as such was paid by American Tobacco Company in Copenhagen, who in return was admitted their ads on the reverse side of the token. 

Ten different ads are known to exist: Capstan, Cora, Cremo, Encore, Flag, Melba, Moss Rose, Nebo, Omar, and Star. 

The distribution took place from 14th April to 25th July 1921, and the tokens were withdrawn from circulation on 30th April 1922. 

  • Denmark 1921. Averse side of a Danish postal token with the 10-øre stamp of Kronborg Castle encased. 

The British playwright William Shakespeare used the castle as setting for his world famous play "Hamlet".  This play is still performed open air each summer in the inner courtyard of the castle, attracting thousands of tourists. Ghana-tourists must have been among the public.  

In 1994 Ghana issued a set of nine stamps for the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival, containing (theatre) castles throughout the world, Denmark included. This stamp, featuring Kronborg Castle,  was one of them  It is a nice aerial view of the castle, where the inner courtyard appears distinctively. 

The blue water in the background is Øresund, the narrow strait that separates Denmark and Sweden. 

  • Ghana 1994. Kronborg Castle. Scan by courtesy of Mr. Søren Rieck (Denmark). 

Ghana 1994. Kronborg Castle, issued for the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival.

In "Hamlet" (Act I, iv, 90), appears the famous phrase "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".

The recently deceased King of Denmark has appeared as a ghost to the guards that keep watch over the castle at Elsinore and although they beckon it to speak to them, it refuses and disappears as dawn breaks. The next night, the ghost appears and beckons Hamlet away from the others, as if to speak in private. Horatio and the other officers view this as dangerous and warn Hamlet not to go alone, a warning he refuses to obey. They fear for his life and sanity, and are suspicious of the ghost, as it may be from heaven or from hell. As Hamlet goes off with the ghost of his father, Marcellus speaks the famous line that "Something is rotten in the State of Denmark", which is prophetic of the evil lurking in the person of the new King. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Denmark (on this website). Note, that Ilulissat Icefjord is located in Greenland, and not in Denmark proper. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Denmark-section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
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