Dag Hammarskjöld On Stamps

By Chuck Matlack

UN Logo Portrail of Dag Hammarskjold UN Logo

Foreword by Toke Nørby
Chuck Matlack, USA, who passed away on 3 June 1996, originally prepared these pages. I have never met Chuck in person or even seen a picture of him but he was one of my very first and very good e-mail friends. In December 1997 I found that Chuck's pages were removed from the site where they have been since 15 December 1995.

Like Chuck's Czeslaw Slania page his Dag Hammarskjöld pages are an important contribution to Thematic Philately and I thought that it would be a pity if they just disappeared. I was therefore pleased when Chuck's friend who maintained his pages at his "old" site told me that I was welcome to host also his Dag Hammarskjöld pages - he has kept them on a floppy disk!

So, what you see here is Chuck's Dag Hammarskjöld pages in my "wrapping". You must be aware that the information have not been updated since the spring of 1996 and as I don't collect thematic material I have no chance to add new information to the pages, but I'm sure that you will enjoy Chuck's tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld.

2000.01.05 - Toke Nørby

This publication was originally created by Chuck Matlack
American Philatelic Society 170569 and American Topical Society 48269-5.

It was Chuck's wish that: "There are no restrictions on the use of this material.
It is not copyrighted, and may be used for any valid philatelic purpose".

Chuck's own foreword:
This document is an example of an unique advantage of the World Wide Web. Although a great deal of research has gone into this catalog, the audience is too small to interest publishers. This method of publication was the only opportunity to publish this data other than a vanity press. The Web also has the advantage of low cost and easy updating as new information becomes available.

The creation of this catalog was complicated by the fact that some issues are either not listed in the Scott catalogs or, if listed, are only a mention in the For The Record section. The Michel catalogs have much better coverage and wider acceptance worldwide, but are still not complete. The Stanley Gibbons, although the standard for most British Commonwealth issues, had no information on Redonda.

The following catalog of Hammarskjöld stamps is a compilation and expansion of both Paul Hennefeld's list, the ATA list compiled by Frank M. Hordfich and Ralph L. Seefeld, and the author's own findings. Scott and Michel catalog reference numbers have been updated where possible, and issue date and other relevant information added.

Biography of Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarsköld (pronounced hahm'-ur-shohld) was born into a family rich in the tradition of public and military service on July 29, 1905 in Jönköping, Sweden. The Hammarsköld's were a noble family. The degree of nobility was numbered by the order of introduction at the Riddarhuset, the House of Nobles. The Hammarskjölds, from Småland in the South of Sweden, were number 135. Of the 135, only 30 exist today, and only three are counts or barons. Unfortunately, the only privilege that exists for a modern Swedish noble is the honor of being beheaded with a sword rather than an axe. This is a somewhat modest perk in a country where the death penalty has been abolished.

His father, Hjalmar (1862-1954), was President of the Göta Court of Appeals when Dag was born. He was later to become President of the Board of Education, Swedish Minister in Copenhagen, Lord Lieutenant in Uppsala, and finally Prime Minister. A demanding man, Hjalmar said, "If I had Dag's brains, I would have gone far!" (Söderberg, p 36) Hjalmar's influence on Dag's life was dramatic, but there was another major influence.

Agnes Almqvist ( -1940) married Dag's father in 1890. Agnes hailed from a family of scholars and members of the church. She provided the warm, humanistic side of Dag's personality, chatting with shoemakers and archbishops alike, exuding a magnetic charm that filled whatever room she was in. Dag was born when she was over 40. Although she had hoped for a daughter, their relationship was "an especially intimate, congenial and mutually appreciative one." (Van Dusen, p 17) Dag was his mother's gentleman-in-waiting, in constant attendance upon her. He was called the stay-at-home daughter, which was the practice of the time for a daughter to remain at home to care for her parents.

Bo (1891- ), Dag's oldest brother, carried on the family tradition to become Lord Lieutenant of Södermanland. Åke (1893-1937) was appointed Secretary-General of the International Court at The Hague at the early age of 29, dying at 44 of rheumatic fever. Sten (1900- ) was a journalist and novelist who was forced to retire early due to ill health. Dag (1905-1961) followed, finally outshining them all when he was appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1953, a post he held until his death. Although the majority of his legacies occurred during those eight years, events on his path to the Secretary-Generalship shaped the man, which allowed him to make those contributions that have, in turn, shaped our world.

In 1916, the Hammarskjöld family moved to Uppsala, Sweden's ancient academic town, and took up residence in Uppsala Castle whose foundation was laid in 1545. In 1925, he received his B.A. from Uppsala University with major concentrations in the history of literature, philosophy, French and political economy. Dag received his doctor's degree in economics in 1928 from the University of Stockholm, and his law degree in 1930 when his father retired as Lord Lieutenant. Dag received the post of secretary for the Unemployment Commission. Appointed to a post in the Finance Department in 1932, he presented his doctor's thesis on economics just before Christmas in 1933. In 1935, he was made secretary of the Bank of Sweden, and appointed as permanent secretary to the Finance Department in 1936. He was the youngest person to ever hold such a position. Because of his interest in bicycling and mountains, he was elected to the board of the Swedish Tourist Association in 1940, and became its vice president in 1950. In 1941, he became chairman of the governors of the Bank of Sweden, the oldest currency issuing organization in the world. Leaving the Finance Department in 1945, Hammarskjöld became envoy and financial expert to the Foreign Department in 1946, and was a member of the economic delegations to Great Britain and the US. 1948 saw Dag as the chief Swedish delegate to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation and became its president in 1950. In 1951, he attained his highest rank in the Swedish government when he became minister without portfolio, assisting the Foreign Minister on international economic concerns.

Election as the UN's Secretary-General came as a complete surprise to Hammarskjöld. On March 29, 1953 he said, "Nobody would be so crazy as to propose me, and I wouldn't be so crazy as to accept so impossible a job." (Lash, p 12) Two days later, after hearing that someone in New York was suggesting his name as candidate, he cabled back to Sweden "Amused but not interested." (Lash, p 12) He received the formal offer on April 1, and arrived in New York as the newly appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations on April 9, 1953.

His first major hurtle came that same year when he forbade FBI agents access to the UN building in Manhattan as they pursued McCarthy's 'un-American' witch hunts, thus asserting the international status of the UN. In 1955 he obtained the release of American airmen imprisoned in China. In 1956, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, and Hammarskjöld got the foreign ministers of Egypt, France and Great Britain to agree on various principles to keep the canal open. On October 29, 1956 Israel launched an attack on Egyptian territory, and the next day the Egyptians received an ultimatum from France and Britain, followed by a Franco-British military action against the canal area. The crisis was temporarily resolved by the arrival of UN forces in November. He was re-elected Secretary-General in 1957.

1958 saw fresh crisis in the Arab world with the United States and Britain sending troops to help Lebanon and Jordan. He obtained the withdrawal of these troops and the raising of the blockade of Syria, which had refused to join Nasser's Arab League. In 1959, Dag went to Laos and put a UN representative there. He visited South Africa in 1960, and tried to soften the governmental policy of apartheid. In response to the Congo Crisis, he visited Leopoldville and Elisabethville, and organized technical and police assistance. In response, Khrushchev raged against Hammarskjöld in the UN. With the Congo (now Zaire) in civil war in 1961, the USSR intensified its efforts to get Dag dismissed. On September 12, Hammarskjöld was in Leopoldville conferring with the government and managed to obtain agreement to a meeting on neutral territory. On September 17, he took off for Ndola, and the plane crashed. The next day his dead body was found lying beside the plane.

Hammarskjöld was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously in 1961, and the main library of the UN was named for him. Besides his obvious role as a peacekeeper, he left as part of his legacy a set of guidelines still used today by the UN Peacekeeping forces. These rules state that peacekeepers

  • may not intervene without permission of the disputing parties,
  • they must achieve their goals by means of negotiation and persuasion rather than violence,
  • may take orders only from the UN Security Council, and
  • must be supported financially by all the UN member nations. (Altshiller, p 21)

In his final report to the UN in 1961, Hammarskjöld observed that the organization could be either static or dynamic. This second model he noted "can point to the needs of the present and of the future in a world of ever-closer international interdependence...and envisages possibilities of inter-governmental action overriding [a philosophy of] sovereign national States in armed competition" (UN Chronicle, p 75)

Hammarskjöld's sole book was titled Markings in the English translation and Vägmäken in the original Swedish, which translates as road marks or cairns. It consists of some 600 'notes' of various length and form running from prose to blank verse to haiku. Perhaps two of the most poignant are:

Smiling, sincere, incorruptible-
His body disciplined and limber.
A man who had become what he could,
And was what he was
Ready at any moment to gather everything
Into one simple sacrifice.
(Hammarskjöld, p 6)
  Sleepless questions
In the small hours:
Have I done right?
Just as I did?
Over and over again
The same steps,
The same words:
Never the answer.
(Hammarskjöld, p 209)

Despite several bad reviews, the book was reprinted many times and was reported to be " the most widely purchased and little read volume in American homes today, except the Bible." (Van Dusen, p 40)

The period of the Hammerskjöld administration required a person of his temperament. It was as if he had been molded for it. Besides the Congo and Laos crises and the Soviet barrage against him, it was a wild period of colonial nations seeking full independence and UN representation. Simply marking time in this atmosphere would have been a remarkable accomplishment, but he actually managed to make progress on all fronts, and established the United Nations as a viable world power intent on peace.

Putting together a collection of Hammarskjöld stamps is expensive only if collecting all varieties is important to you. There are a few overprints that can be considered "key" issues. Expense aside, even some of the inexpensive stamps are surprisingly difficult to locate.


  • A Look Back...30 Years Ago. UN Chronicle, Volume 28, Number 3, September 1991, pp 74-75.
  • Altshiller, Donald. The United Nations Role In World Affairs. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1993.
  • Hammarskjöld, Dag. Markings. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965.
  • Hennefeld, Paul. Gay And Lesbian History On Stamps. Hartford, CT: Gay and Lesbian History on Stamps Club, February 1982.
  • Lash, Joseph P. Dag Hammarskjold: Custodian Of The Brushfire Peace. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.
  • Multimedia Encyclopedia, version 1.5, Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1992.
  • Seefeld, Ralph L. and Frank M. Hordich Dag Hammarskjold Philatelic List. Johnstown, PA: American Topical Association, 1991.
  • Söderberg, Sten. Hammarskjöld: A Pictoral Biography. New York: Viking Press, 1962.
  • Urquhart, Brian. Hammarskjold. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972.
  • Van Dusen, Henry P. Dag Hammarskjöld: The Statesman And His Faith. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

The Catalog
Aden Seiyn (58 Kb) Afghanistan (54 Kb) Burundi (39 Kb) Chad (16 Kb)
Congo Democratic Republic (80 Kb) Congo People's Republic (18 Kb) Ecuador (38 Kb) Egypt (19 Kb)
Fujeria (34 Kb) Grenada (38 Kb) Haiti (136 Kb) Jordan (102 Kb)
Korea North (52 Kb) Liberia (35 Kb) Monserrat (17 Kb) Nicaragua (98 Kb)
Panama (33 Kb) Paraguay (19 Kb) Qatar (102 Kb) Redonda (2 Kb)
Surinam (55 Kb) Swaziland (2 Kb) Sweden (12 Kb) Tunisia (12 Kb)
United Nations (10 Kb) United States (21 Kb) Venezuela (47 Kb) Yemen Kingdom (40 Kb)
Yemen Arab Republic (73 Kb) Zambia (50 Kb)   Check List of Issues (5 Kb)

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Uploaded on 5 January 2000