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2023Gold Stamp - Holland America Line’s 150th Anniversary - Collectibles

GBP £43.86
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Technical details
  • 18.04.2023
  • Frank Janse, Gouda
  • 24-carat gold
  • 30 x 40mm (wxh)
About Gold Stamp - Holland America Line’s 150th Anniversary

PostNL will publish the gold Holland America Line’s 150th anniversary stamp on 18 April 2023 to mark the renowned cruise line’s special milestone. The stamp made with 24-carat gold was produced in a limited edition of just 1,000. The denomination on these stamps is ‘1’, the denomination for items weighing up to 20g destined for the Netherlands. PostNL will supply the gold stamp with a luxury storage box and a certificate of authenticity. The retail price is €50.

PostNL publishes limited edition gold stamps exclusively to mark special anniversaries and other memorable occasions. Previous issues include the gold stamps celebrating Princess Amalia’s 18th birthday, 350 years of Rembrandt, Willem‑Alexander, Máxima, the End of World War II series, Miffy’s 65th birthday, the Oranje in Goud cassette and the Hugo de Groot series. Each stamp is made with 24-carat gold.

Holland America Line is a renowned cruise line that was founded 150 years ago as the Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart-Maatschappij (Dutch-American Steamship Company, NASM), or in Dutch everyday parlance: Holland-Amerika Lijn (HAL). The NASM added this name to its name given in the articles of association in 1896. The company maintained a shipping link between the Netherlands and the USA, which was partly facilitated by the opening of the Nieuwe Waterweg [‘New Waterway’] ship canal in 1875. The transatlantic connection between Rotterdam and New York existed from 1873 to 1971. The shipping route significantly contributed to land movements from Europe to America – and especially emigration. During wartime, the ships were used to transport millions of soldiers. Increasing competition from the aviation industry shifted the focus to using passenger ships for cruise travel. In 1989, the company was acquired by Carnival Corporation – a holding company that by that time owned nine shipping companies. In recent decades, its former headquarters on Wilhelminakade in Rotterdam has been better known as Hotel New York. Its Dutch origins live on in the names of Holland America Line ships. Since the company was founded, the ships have sailed under the Dutch flag and, to this day, are often commanded by Dutch officers. The modern-day Holland America Line has eleven cruise ships, which take over 500 cruises spanning all continents each year.

The gold Holland America Line’s 150th anniversary stamp features an illustration of two iconic ships from this shipping company's long history. They are presented side by side: on the left is the newest cruise ship, the Rotterdam (7) from 2021 and on the right is the first steamer and brig dating back to 1873, the Rotterdam (1). The bow of the large cruise ship protrudes prominently, while our attention is drawn to the right hull on the smaller, older ship. The high passenger decks in the image are a key feature of the Rotterdam (7). The illustration of the Rotterdam (1) shows that this steamer could also sail with square-rigged sails. The two ships are linked by a quiet bow wave below. The title Holland America Line’s 150th anniversary is printed in bold capitals above the ships, alongside the foundation year (1873) and anniversary year (2023).

The font used for the denomination 1 and Nederland was designed in 2018 by type designer Martin Majoor from Arnhem. The rest of the typography uses the Neutraface font from 2002, designed by Christian Schwartz for House Industries. For the font design, Schwartz was influenced by the work of modernist architect Richard Neutra.

For graphic designer Frank Janse, the design process for the gold Holland America Line’s 150th anniversary stamp began by paying a visit to the Rotterdam (7) cruise ship when it was docked in the port of Rotterdam. ‘It was magnificent,’ says Janse. ‘I love port cities – the atmosphere, the dynamics, the loading and unloading. But I’d never been on a cruise ship before. It was impressively large and organised to perfection. I suppose it has to be, with thousands of passengers and crew on board. The thing that surprised me the most was the use of artwork in the communal areas. They really put a lot of thought into that.’

From 1,700 to 100,000 tonnes
With Holland America Line’s agreement, Janse decided to represent this special anniversary by placing the very first ship and the very newest ship side by side on the stamp. Both ships were named Rotterdam, with rank numbers 1 and 7. The two ships are very different from each other. The Rotterdam (1) from 1873 carried 400 passengers and 50 crew members, whereas the 2021 Rotterdam (7) accommodates 2,700 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The old ship weighed 1,700 gross tonnes and could reach a speed of 10.5 knots, whereas the modern namesake weighs nearly 100,000 gross tonnes and has a top speed of 18 knots.

Iconic and graphic
The golden illustration is undoubtedly inspired by the style and effect of Holland America Line posters dating back to the 1930s. Janse: ‘It features iconic and graphically very interesting images of impressive ships. Many of the images were drawn in such a way that the bow towers over the viewer. I took the same approach to my design for the Rotterdam image on the left of the illustration, but I haven’t exaggerated it quite as much as before. Otherwise it would dwarf the other Rotterdam, which is much smaller.’

Light to dark gradient
Janse created a black-and-white illustration that the printing company later converted into a gold stamp. ‘You have to use a special technique that involves transferring the 24-carat gold to the backing layer of the stamp through a grid. The smoother the grains in the grid, the blacker it looks. That way, you can you can influence the light to dark gradient. In the illustration, for example, I used the gradient to add depth to the hulls and the bulging sails. This adds drama to the image – just like in the 1930s posters.’ For the typography, Janse wanted to use a font that matched the look and effect of the old posters. ‘In the end, Neutraface was a good solution. The only element that I wasn’t happy with was the capital As – they were too pointy. So I changed them myself, and they now have nice, rounded tops.’

Sailing and reading direction

In the initial sketches, neither ship was facing to the right – as they are now – but to the left. ‘That was a something I put a lot of thought into,’ says Janse. ‘After all, New York is on the left on maps and Rotterdam on the right. And the outbound journey to New York was the most important. Still, it niggled – also because we read from left to right. So this solution works better visually. But I had to let a few other ideas go. For instance, I originally included the Statue of Liberty and Hotel New York in the illustration as symbols representing both port cities. But they turned out much too small – they were hardly recognisable on the postage stamp.’

Everything had to match
For the detail, Janse looked into how he could visualise the ships as effectively as possible with the fewest resources possible. ‘They’re big ships where a lot happens,’ says Janse. ‘The real challenge is to select the right details. For example, you can see black circles under the chimney of the Rotterdam (1). In real life, they were the windows in the cabin substructure of the steam pipe. The passenger decks on the Rotterdam (7) are also greatly simplified, as are the anchor hole and portholes. But all the details had to match reality, of course. For instance, you can just about see the elevation at the bow that the foresail of the Rotterdam (1) is attached to.’

About the designer
Frank Janse (Vlissingen, 1967) graduated as a graphic designer from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2001. Janse is a specialist in corporate identity, branding, infographics and communication campaigns. Until 2019, he worked for various advertising and design agencies, including Room for IDs, and he also worked for himself as Frank Grafisch Ontwerp in Gouda. In 2019, together with Leene Communicatie, he founded the new company Leene Visuele Communicatie, which designs communication tools focusing on content and information design. Leene Visual Communication works for clients including housing corporation Rochdale, PostNL, Randstad Group Netherlands, the Dutch central government, Vattenfall and the organisation for health research and care innovation ZonMw. Since late 2022, Frank has been the Design Director and Co-owner of VormVijf in The Hague. VormVijf works for governments, companies and organisations with the (mostly organised) citizen as its most important and largest target group. The agency connects strategy, design and content with the ambition to innovate, surprise and create impact. On the instructions of PostNL, Frank Janse has previously designed various luxury storage systems and personal stamps, including the 2017 themed collection on bird species of the Netherlands. He also produced the designs for the Experience nature series from 2018 to 2022.