Birka and Hovgården (1993)

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A trio of ancient artifacts are pictured on three stamps issued by Sweden on March 21, 2002.  In the middle of the 8th century the Swedish King founded a trading center, Birka, just west of the present city of Stockholm.  His royal estate, Hovgården, was on the island of Adelsö in Lake Mälaren. 

Stockholm grew up surrounding the strait connecting the Lake to the Baltic Sea.  From here the King kept the town in order and protected from plundering.  At its peak Birka had about 700 inhabitants and trades with merchants from near and far.  Birka is one of the best preserved examples of Viking trading sites, and has been included in the list of World Heritage sites since 1993. 

Sweden 2002. World Cultural Heritage. Runic Stone of Birka.

Scott # 2435

Sweden 2002. World Cultural Heritage. First day cover Birka.

FDC showing all three stamps in the set. 

Sweden 2002. World Cultural Heritage. Man's Face. Birka.

Scott # 2436

The cachet on the FDC is based on the Swedish engraver, Czeslaw Slania's pencil line plan of the runic stone. Such a preliminary sketch is standard practice, made of a subject prior to starting the engraving.  It provides a roadmap of how the engraver plans to proceed with the engraving.  A rune is an ancient Nordic alphabet used by Scandinavian and Germanic peoples.  This stone may have served as a reference or translation tool. 

The three stamps picture a runic stone and two pendants, one a stylized man's head and the other a rounded cross (looking a bit like a marine sand dollar).  The stamp (to the right) depicting the cross pendant was engraved by Lars Sjööblom;  the other two, pictured above, are engraved by Czeslaw Slania.  The stamps are undenominated, but designated for three different service rates: "Inrikes Brev" (regular domestic latter rate = 5 SEK), "Ekonomi Brev" (economy letter rate = 4,50 SEK) and "Förenings Brev" (non-profit organisation, letter rate = 3.80 SEK).  

Sweden 2002. World Cultural Heritage. Cross Pendant, Birka.

A very nice commercially used cover with perfect cancellations in Malmö on 11th June 2002 - and received in Denmark the next morning, on 12th June.  

One of the stamps used is the "Man's Face" from Birka, originally intended for domestic letters at the rate of 5 SEK.  

The additional stamps used to make up for international mail are not engraved by Slania.  The total postage is 8,00 SEK.

All three stamps are printed in single-colour intaglio in muted dark tones of blue-black or purple-black and issued in coils only.  The man's face is printed on a colour that resembles aged yellow paper.  The other two are on white paper. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Sweden (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Sweden section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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