Postal History from Finland 1889 - 1918

The Mourning Stamp

First known day of use was 7th of August 1900

The mourning stamp was designed by artist Axel Gallen (Gallen-Kallela) and financed and issued by bookstore owner Wentzel Hagelstam.

The background was that Finnish stamps no longer were allowed to be used on foreign mail from Finland. This event really awoke the Finnish patriotism.

Add from Björneborg Tidning on 8. Aug. 1900
Sale of the mourning stamp began quite publicly through newspaper ads, by word of mouth, and through a circular letter issue. The following column appeared in the paper the first weeks of August 1900:

"A BEAUTIFUL STAMP displaying Finland's colored coat-of-arms on black background with the printed words "SUOMI FINLAND" in white lettering has recently appeared in bookstores. The stamp is very suitable on foreign postal deliveries, cost 1 penni apiece, and is available in every bookstore around the country. As far as we (at the paper) understand, the profit from the sale of this stamp will go for general welfare purposes. In order to further the idea of this specimen, it would be advisable that everyone unite in using this particular stamp."

The following are from a letter of introduction written by Hagelstam:

"It might therefore be advisable after Russian postage has replaced Finnish stamps, that the home locality right of Finnish letter mail be indicated with the coat-of-arms stamp(s), to be attached to the envelope right-hand corner, in the usual postage stamp spot, so as to fulfill their purpose, without being considered postage stamps." "Great quantities of these Finnish coat-of-arms stamps (of which one sample is enclosed) have been printed from a design by Axel Gallen. In the spirit of (Finnish) patriotism, these most certainly will be used all over our country from August 14th onward, and be seen on every letter cover in addition to a Russian stamp." The coat-of-arms stamps were available from the undersigned and only by enclosing with the order, a cash amount. The specimens were sold for 1 penni each. Wholesalers received a 20% discount for a minimum order of 500. "Those who wish to be sufficiently prepared when the coat-of-arms date of use begins, in case of great demand, should right-away order larger quantities." Helsinki, July 30th, 1900

See Hagelstam letter in Swedish or Finnish version in bigger size (opens in new window)

"Grand Duche De Finlande" cover from the issuer of the mouningstamp Wenzel Hagelstam, Helsinki

The use of the Mourning stamps and similar signs was immedately prohibited by the Russian authority.

Used copies are much scarcer than mint copies, but the postmark can be difficult to see.
This copy has an almost perfect placed K.P.XP No. 11 TPO-postmark

The original and five different re-printings of the mourning stamp are known. All reprintings were made for commercial purposes because the stamp generated much interest.
Re-print may not be the correct description because new plates were made for each printing.

The original stamp was printed at the Gust. Arvidssons Lithogaphy Atelier in Helsinki. Each whole sheet contains two sheets of 50 to the left and two sheets of 100 to the right

4 x 4 sheet - type 1(?) not from my collection. None of the types were printed in sheets of 16 according to my sources, so obviously these are not complete.

The printed quantity is unknown.

Mourning stamp - 1914 type
The second stamp - type II - was printed in Tampere in 1914, at the Syren Lithography Co. and are printed in sheets of (8 x 9) 72 stamps

Type I:
Arch on crown rounded; inner frameline consistent; chain of pearls connected by line. Crown base 4 1/2 mm wide, with two thin black lines on yellow background space between lines thicker than the lines. Sword handshield toward blade.
Back: Dot after penni - horizontally elongated.

Type II:
Arch on crown broken up and lower than on Type I. In place of pearl chain irregular short lines. Sword handshield arched toward hilt. Colored spot on sword blade in front of paw. Crown base 4 1/2 mm wide; yellow background between two black lines only a narrow streak. Letter "A" inner triangle larger than and with more pointed corners than any other type.
Back: Letter "N" middle line in "penni" arched up and beak on 1 straight and short.

Further four known specimens are all presumed to have been printed abroad - dates of printing and locations unknown.

Type III:
Black color is dull grayish. Arch of crown half of regular circle and bigger than all other types. Back: beak on 1 is wider than type I.Size of sheet 5 x 4 + 5 x 4 with 7 mm horizontal base. Sheet has black margins.

Type IV:
Black color has dull brownish tinge. Top of crown arch elongated past 2-3 pearls at sommit both sides. Pearls separate without connecting line and their bottom innerline has almost disappeared with only a smitten discernible by the left-side arch. The sword handle (at leons foot) is only thinly visible. Back printed similar to type I, but with middle horizontal line in letter E lifted and point round, gumless. Size of sheet 12 x 7 - 84 stamps.

Type V:
Stamp color deep black and on coat-of-arms bright. Crown arch are formed solely by separate dots, no support lines. Ornaments in coat-of-arms around the leon are circles with dot in middle. Back without print. Size of sheet unknown.

Type VI:
Stamp approx. 3mm lower and narrower than other types, letters smaller. Back with gum but without print.

10 kop stationary cover of the ring-type sent from Finland via Sweden to Germany. The letter was put into a mailbox onboard a ship in Finland, a ship sailing abroad to Stockholm, Sweden. The cover was addressed and franked on the address side - with a mourning stamp and transitmarked in Stockholm with a FRÅN FINLAND shipmail postmark. Imprinted 10 kop stamp cancelled "STOCKHOLM 16 8 00" and also on back ( which actually is the front :) is an arrival postmark "RONSDORF 18.8.00 8-9V" (V=Vormittag / Morning). As very often with items bearing mouring stamps this item is philatelitic.

Postcard franked with 4 kop ring-stamp and mourning stamp and sent per shipmail from Finland to Stockholm. Both stamps cancelled with STOCKHOLM 19 8 00. Postcard has been posted onboard the ship, had it been posted at a Finnish postoffice it would have been returned to sender due to the mourning stamp.

Stationary card with imprinted mourning stamp, sold for 3 pen.

The card is written / dated Helsingfors 21.1.1901, and then franked with a Swedish 10 öre stamp and posted from Stockholm 25.I.01 to Leipzig in Germany.

This card is very often found philatelitic used.

Use of the Mourning stamp was prohibited in Finland but can rarely be found abroad used in sympathy with the Finns as here on a printed matter new years greating sent from Stockholm in Sweden to Denmark

Postcard with motive of mourning stamp. This card was printed in Germany

Many postcards with the Finnish arms type of 1889 and the mourning stamp were issued around the time when the Finnish arm type went out of use. (14.01.1901)

Be aware of fake and manipulated material.

Here what seems to be Mourning stamp on a 2k Wrapper with additional franking of 2 * 1k Ring-stamps sent from Halila 29.VI.00 to a hotel in Warszawa district in Poland.

Earliest known date of used mourning stamp is 7th August 1900 ....

Date in postmark that ties mourning stamp to the wrapper is not readable only first figure is " - "
note the 2 postmarks cancelling the stamps are blurred - very normal due to contens of the wrapper - while the last postmark on the mourning stamp is quite sharp.
Very sad; but no doubt : the mourning stamp is attached to the wrapper afterwards to make the item more attractive.

Another doubtful item:
Seems to be cover franked with a mourning stamp and 5pcs of the 2p m/89 stamp all nicely postmarked Helsinki -7.III.01. and sent to Berlin
.... no clear arrival postmark .... wrong rate .... and these stamps were no longer valid franking.

The Finnish Philatelist
Vol. 6, No. 1 • February 2001 • Whole Number 17

Charity Issues     Mourning Stamp    ¦ ¦     TB. / Christmas Stamps    ¦ ¦     War Charity Issues    ¦ ¦    
Opdateret d. 16. Feb. 2011