Scandinavian Collectors Club


Handbook of Danish Essays and Proofs, Volume 3 1940-1960 by William R. Benfield and Bruno Nørdam. “606” pages, 8 ½ by 11 ½ inches, hardbound, privately published, Seattle, Washington, 2011. ISBN 978-87-990237-2-1, $100 postpaid in USA, $120 postpaid to Europe from Dr. William R. Benfield, 9109 27th Avenue N.W., Seattle WA 98117. Also available from Bruno Nørdam Andersen, Schousgade 17 st. th., 8900 Randers C, Denmark.


            This handbook is the third volume in a planned series of four volumes covering Denmark’s essays, proofs, and related materials in the following time periods: classic issues up through 1919, 1920-1939, 1940-1960, 1961-2000. In addition to essays and proofs the authors include other materials like specimens, unissued designs, reprints, and test stamps. This Volume 3 is the first printing of the first edition and suggests an intended 606 pages for a future edition. Hence many chapters end with a message that states that three or so pages “are intentionally left blank to allow for the expansion of this chapter without the need to renumber the rest of the pages in this volume.”

            The introductory chapter defines the materials described in the book. Essays include concept drawings and models and specifically any design that differs from the officially issued stamps. Test stamps are non-denominated labels used for quality checks. Proofs cover a wide range of objects like die proofs, cliché proofs, working plate proofs, plate proofs, and trial color proofs. A specimen is a sample for which no revenue has been paid, and it has been defaced by an overprint or other method. Reprints include official and private types and are differentiated from reissues, after prints, and reproductions.

            The handbook uses a catalog numbering system developed by the authors that comprise the Facit catalog number, and a series of letters and numbers. The letters refer to the type of item: RCD for rough concept design, DCM for detailed concept model, FAW for final artwork, TCP for trial color proof, DP for die proof, U for unissued, etc. The ending numbers indicate color and paper varieties.

            For those items that are unique and exist only in the Post & Tele Museum in Copenhagen, no catalog numbering is assigned. The numbers are for the benefit of those items still in private hands. The illustrations are excellent throughout. Many are in black and white like India ink designs and photographic models. Where original artwork and essays and proofs are in color, they are shown for full visual appreciation. Warnings are posted for designs of postage stamps used as envelope cachets that have been cut and offered as proofs or essays.

            This Volume 3 covers Denmark’s stamps from the Christian X 75th birthday definitives of 1940 through the 1960 Girl-Guides’ aid to children issue. A few questionable items are described in a brief chapter. The first appendix is an annotated bibliography of literature references by stamp issue. This is a detailed reference list containing not only the citation but also a brief abstract. The references are repeated in an alphabetical list by author’s name in a second appendix.

            A third appendix presents brief biographies of the artists mentioned throughout the book—designers and engravers. Another appendix illustrates and describes specimen stamps of Denmark from different time periods that were once part of the UPU reference collections. Those of Angola, Bechuanaland Protectorate, Madagascar, and Natal recently came on the market and are discussed.

            Although this is not a priced catalog, relative values are assigned with a simple scale from 1 (extremely common with more than 500 copies) to 7 for an item that is unique. Another appendix defines terms used in the book from “after print” to “working plate proof.” A subject index concludes the book.

            The binding seems durable with some sewing and use of hard covers. The paper is thick, thus preventing print-through. The illustrations are exceptional. Recognizing that additional discoveries will require future editions of this book, the authors have nonetheless provided an excellent reference work that will answer many questions for stamp collectors.


Alan Warren