The Danish Emergency Stamp from 1963


By Toke Nørby

Copyright 1996-2013 by Toke Nørby.
This article must not be published without permission from the author
- but you are welcome to take a printout for your personal use ;-)


The Cold War
In 1990 the Danish General Post Office (GPO) contacted the Danish Philatelic Federation (DFF) (was: and told us a fascinating story about the Danish Emergency Stamp (shown to the right).

Around 1960 the situation between "East" and "West" was as "cold" as it could be. Fearing a war, the Danish government drew up contingency plans which have still not been made public, according to Danish law. A part of these plans dealt with the Danish Postal Service. A decision was made in 1963 to print 2,000,000 sheets of Emergency Stamps, each sheet with 100 stamps. The format was a printing sheet with four panes (four stamp sheets) each of 100 stamps. The stamps were produced by the private printing house of J. Jørgensen & Co., who were normally used when some of our stamps need to be surcharged to a new value.

The Emergency Stamp
Why They were Manufatured
Let us look back in time a little. If a war situation arose, and normal postal service was impossible, especially if ships in regular service in our belts had to be stopped, the Danish government wanted the postal service to continue as normal as possible in all parts of the country. Therefore, eight different post offices in Denmark received a sealed package each containing 500 sheets of Emergency Stamps, instructions for use AND a printing forme to make it possible for the post office have a local printing works produce more Emergency Stamps if necessary! (This means that only 8 x 500 = 4,000 sheets of the 2,000,000 sheets were distributed to the eight post offices and the remaining 1,996,000 sheets were kept in Copenhagen).

Together with the package there was an instruction note for the receiver. This note stated that the package could only be opened when an order to do so came directly from the government. None of the employees at these eight post offices were informed of the contents of the package.

As time passed and the progress of technology made it possible to handle such a war situation in other ways (e.g. the use of franking machines), our GPO realized that it was no longer necessary to have such Emergency Stamps available, but the packages were still kept at the eight post offices.

"What is This"?
On Sunday 21 February 1988 the Danish newspaper "Politiken" in Holger Philipsens column "Frimærke Nyt" (Stamps News) showed a photo of the Emergency Stamp with the question: "What is This"? and asked our GPO to assist in finding an answer. The question was repeated in the same newspaper on 3 April 1988 as the Danish "Postens Frimærkecenter", PFC (now Post Denmark, Stamps & Philately) could (or would) not answer the question. They suggested, however, that "Frimærke Nyt" should ask the Danish GPO. Nobody, especially the government, could or would answer the question, so, at that time, we did not get an answer.

The Press Conference
On a press conference held on 7 March 1991 the Danish Postal Administration failed to reveal which post offices received a package of 500 sheets. We, the collectors, assumed that the packets were distributed to the Færø Islands (Thorshavn), Bornholm (a Danish island), two cities on Zealand (Næstved and Copenhagen), Funen (the island between Zealand and in Jutland, they were sent to Aalborg, Aarhus and a city in the south of Jutland.

The Gift
Additionaly, at the afore-mentioned press conference, the GPO (represented by the leader of "Postens Frimærkecenter", PFC, Mrs. Lis Birkedal - shown to the right) told us that the Danish government had decided to destroy the Emergency Stamps and that the Postal Administration had been granted permission to give away as many of the Emergency Stamps as the Danish Philatelic Federation could sell. The money from the sale was to be used to support the work of the Danish Philatelic Federation. In co-operation with our GPO, it was decided that each stamp would costs 30 Danish Kroner and that the largest block collectors could buy was to be a block of 10. Before the sheets were split up into blocks, stripes and single stamps, all margins on the sheets were removed - so only our Postal Museum in Copenhagen have full sheets of 100 stamps.

The Sale
The sale began in connection to our "Frimærkets Dag" ("The Day of the Stamp") on 14 March 1991 and was continued until 31 December 1991.

Lis Birkedal
A total amount of 146,040 Emergency Stamps were sold (total proceed on sale: 3,686,723.47 Danish Kroner - DKKr). The Danish Postal Museum received as a gift DKKr 146,040 and FIP (Federation Internationale de Philatelie) received DKKr 72,990.71 as The Danish Philatelic Federation had decided that DKKr 5.40 per "stamp" sold outside Denmark would be given to FIP to support their work.



  1. The Danish Postal Administration and The Danish Philatelic Federation: Top-news to all Collectors.
    Dansk Filatelistisk Tidsskrift, no. 3, March 1991, p 115, pp 122-123.
  2. Lennart Weber: The Danish Emergency Stamp: A Real Sensation.
    Dansk Filatelistisk Tidsskrift, no. 4, April 1991, pp 182-186.
  3. Jan Bendix: More about the Danish Emergency Stamp.
    Skilling, no. 194, 15 April 1991, pp 10-11.
  4. Jan Bendix: The Danish Emergency Stamp will be sold to Collectors.
    Skilling, no. 193, 15 March 1991, pp 4-5.
  5. Peter Schweizer: The Mystery of the Emergency Stamp. (A very precise and excellent description of the entire procedure of manufacturing of the Emergency Stamps)
    Skilling, no. 196, 15 August 1991, pp 4-9.
  6. The Danish Philatelic Federation: The Balance Sheet for the Emergency Stamp.
    Dansk Filatelistisk Tidsskrift, no. 6, September 1992, p 319.


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Last modified 15 Februar 1999