Finnish Spitz On Postage Stamps
Intaglio is the printing from plates which have been engraved (by hand) or etched (by acid) so that the printing ink is held in the 'scratches' on the smooth surface of a steel or copper printing plate. This method of stamp printing was used on the Penny Black and almost every other early postage stamp. With the advent of modern mechanised printing methods, such as offset litho, this method of printing fell into disuse, as stamps could be printed easily and cheaply by other methods.
Nineteen sixty-five was quite late for Finland to be producing stamps by this method, but it does give the stamps a glowing quality, unique to this process. This set of stamps was also innovative for another reason, it was one of the first sets of stamps to carry a surcharge, which was then donated to charity. lf you look, for example, at the Finnish Spitz stamp, you will see that it carries two values. The first (O.15 penniä) is the actual cost of the stamp, whilst the second value shown (+ 0.03p) is the amount which will be donated to charity. In this case the chosen charity was the Anti TB Fund, whose symbol, the double red cross, appears on the bottom left corner of the stamps. The donation increases in accordance with the denomination of the stamp. This type of charity stamp is now universally accepted and indeed, New Zealand produce a health donation issue every year and even the good old Post Office also tried it a few years ago on a set of Christmas stamps.
Finland's innovation with its postage stamps continued with its second set of dog stamps which came ten years ago in 1989. This time, in addition to the three previously mentioned breeds, it also included a fourth national breed, the Finnish Lapphund. You will see that the design is in mini sheet format, where not only the stamps themselves form part of the design, but the artwork spills over on to the illustrated border, making a very effective and striking design. This mini sheet was issued to commemorate the anniversary of the Finnish Kennel Club. As recently as last year, Finland issued its third set of dog stamps, this time to coincide with the hosting of the World Show, and it will come as no surprise to find that the Finns were innovative once again. The set of eight stamps were issued in booklet form, showing eight different breeds of puppies, but only one Finnish breed, the Lapphund was included. The other seven showed breeds from other European countries, no doubt in deference of the international nature of the World Show. It was no doubt a disappointment that the Finnish Spitz, which after all is Finland's official 'National Breed', was not included.
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