This year marks precisely 150 years since Royal Joh. Enschedé started the production of postage stamps in 1866. Once a small printing shop in the centre of Haarlem, nowadays it’s in a large - highly secure - printing works in the Waarderpolder just outside the centre of Haarlem. The first stamp to be printed was the second issue of Dutch postage stamps depicting King Willem III. Joh. Enschedé took over the printing of stamps from the State Mint. For many decades all Dutch stamps were printed here. Nowadays Joh. Enschedé designs and prints postage stamps for more than 100 countries worldwide, including for the Dutch market.

Over the 150 years that Royal Joh. Enschedé has been producing stamps, the printing techniques and methods used to produce stamps have changed considerably. In the past, production mainly used engraving, screen-printing and later also offset printing. Today there are many other options, such as the use of cold foil, various types of varnish, iriodin and laser perforation. There are also new developments which replace the traditional sheet of stamps, such as booklets, rolls and other unusual forms of execution and packaging. This has greatly increased the possibilities, and there is greater scope for creativity and personal input from the designer or the client. Joh. Enschedé is currently working on introducing ‘traditional’ stamps with new digital technologies such as augmented reality in the near future. This will open up yet another new world of possibilities.

For the occasion of 150 year stamp production we invited employees of sixteen postal organisations worldwide in the period from 10 till 13 October 2016 to participate in a onetime experience called Fundamentals of stamp production. In this 4 day course the participants learned everything about the production of stamps, from paper and inks till packing and shipping. They even visited a sorting centre of the Dutch post.

New stamp booklet Carrier pigeon in cooperation with PostNL

New stamp booklet Carrier pigeon in cooperation with PostNL

To mark the 150th anniversary, Joh. Enschedé has designed a new product in collaboration with PostNL: a book of stamps that reads like a strip cartoon. When you open out the booklet, it reveals 10 sheets, each bearing their own postage stamp.  This anniversary booklet tells a story of a carrier pigeon who is born in a birdhouse, but has no idea what sort of bird he is. He sets off to find out and encounters various types of birds on his travels, as a result of which he finally discovers his true vocation. This stamp booklet is a new way of packaging stamps, unlike the traditional sheet or roll, and also offers far more scope for creativity and room to tell a story.

This stamp booklet incorporates a number of printing techniques which have not previously been used for Dutch postage stamps. One of these techniques is the use of cold foil and spot UV varnish. With cold foil, a layer of foil is pressed onto the paper, after which ink is applied overlapping the foil. This gives the inks a spectacular effect. Joh. Enschedé is demonstrating with this booklet that there are many possibilities beyond the traditional postage stamp. The booklet is also a unique collector’s item because of the nature of the product, the limited print run and the techniques used.