For many years the Facit Special catalogs have provided detailed listings of the stamps not only of Sweden but also the other Nordic countries including Denmark, Faroes, Norway, Danish West Indies, Greenland, Iceland, Finland and Åland. In addition to the postage stamps there were listings of first day covers, booklets, vending machine labels, and on occasion, revenues and postal stationery.
Facit’s attempt to cover everything in one volume led to the 1,080-page 2015 edition last year. In addition to this essential stamp catalog the Facit organization has also been publishing every few years its Facit Postal catalogs, of which number IX is released this year. That volume focuses on postal history aspects of Sweden including cancellations and other postal markings, rate tables, railway and ship mail, prestamp markings, perfins and postal etiquettes or labels among other specialized fields.
For 2016 Facit has broken its main catalog into two volumes, apart from the postal history series which will continue as before. The Facit Special Classic 2016 now lists the stamps of Sweden and the other Nordic countries, and their varieties, before 1951. A companion volume is the Facit Norden 2016 that focuses on the issues from 1951 to the present. There are more differences in the old and new Facit catalogs as described below.
Facit Special Classic 2016, Gunnar Lithén, editor in chief. 368 pages, 6 ¾ by 9 ½ inches, perfect bound, card covers, Facit Förlags AB, Malmö, Sweden, 2015. ISBN 91-86564-75-7, approximately €35 plus postage.
The classic catalog covers the stamps of Sweden and their varieties as the earlier editions of the Facit Special, but only up through 1950. As before, the new catalog includes the officials, postage due, military envelopes, stamp booklets, and the listing of first day covers before 1950. Similar treatment continues with Norway, Denmark, Schleswig, Faroes, Greenland, DWI, Iceland, and Finland.
However, there are some additional articles in this edition that touch on topics that might be of interest to specialists. In the Sweden section, Mats Ingers describes his research into the perforations of the classic issues and has developed the concept of perforation keys that enables one to locate specific stamps in the sheet. During his studies he also discovered that occasionally the sheets were fed upside-down into the perforating machine!
Two new articles are added to the Greenland section, both authored by Torben Hjørne. Those who collect the parcel stamps (“polar bears”) will appreciate the 17-page article that details the rates and postal markings associated with these issues. Hjørne also discusses the use of Danish stamps in Greenland as well as postal history into the 1950s.
New to the section on Iceland is Wilbur Jónsson’s article on “British Military Post in Iceland during WW II.” Topics include Operation Alabaster, active service envelopes, censorship, and Royal Air Force cancellations. Another addition under Iceland is a listing of the stimpilmerki or documentary revenue issues.
Perhaps the most important aspect of these new articles is that they are in both Swedish and English, thus bringing their utility to a much wider audience.
Facit Norden 2016, Gunnar Lithén, editor in chief. 864 pages, 6 ¾ by 9 ½ inches, perfect bound, card covers, Facit Förlags AB, Malmö, Sweden, 2015. ISBN 91-86564-76-5, approximately €45 plus postage.
It should be noted that while this catalog focuses on the Nordic country issues since 1950, the listings do include the earlier stamps, but not their varieties. This catalog applies the same standards of detail for the post-1950 issues of all the countries as was seen in the old Facit Special. Another feature is that the first day cover listings for each country include the issues before 1950 as well as since then.
As with the new Classic catalog, this one also contains some new articles that will attract buyers. In the Sweden section, Mats Renhuldt provides a 7-page overview of Swedish first day covers from 1928, and touches on cachets, autographs, and postal stationery. The text is in both Swedish and English. Gunnar Dahlstrand, who has studied modern stamp counterfeits, presents a one-page listing of such issues from 2004 to 2015. His text is in Swedish only.
New to the Greenland section is a short list of franking labels from 2009 to 2014. The Iceland section includes the stimpelmerki or documentary revenue issues that also appear in the Facit Special Classic 2016 as mentioned above.
Now, what about that Facit 2015 Special catalog that you bought last year? Can you buy the two new volumes and get rid of last year’s single volume? The answer is a definite “No” because that 2015 catalog contains three sections of Sweden not found in the new volumes! One is a 20-page listing of the revenue stamps of Sweden including charta sigillata (revenue stamped paper), documentary stamps, transfer revenue stamps, tax stamps for playing cards and tobacco, and consular revenue stamps among others.
The second section, found only in the 2015 catalog and new to the listings that year, are the details of local postage due stamps for over 50 towns. The third section, an extremely important one for those who collect Sweden’s postal stationery, is the 30-pages of descriptions and values of stamped envelopes, letter cards, and postal cards. Therefore the 2015 Special edition is a keeper.
For many years the Norwegian catalog (Norgeskatalogen), published by the Oslo Philatelic Club, has included one or more articles on subjects of interest to collectors. Each annual edition has a different article, and thus urges one to buy the catalog every year in order not to miss an article. Perhaps Facit is now going in that direction with an approach that encourages one to buy their catalog every year and to keep it for reference.