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2023De Hollandsche Molen's 100th Anniversary - Sheetlets

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Technical details
  • 15.05.2023
  • Bart de Haas, The Hague
  • Cyan, magenta, yellow, black
  • Stamp size: 30 x 40mm (wxh), Sheet size: 170 x 122 mm (wxh)
About De Hollandsche Molen's 100th Anniversary

PostNL will publish the De Hollandsche Molen's 100th anniversary stamp sheet on 15 May 2023. In 2023, Vereniging De Hollandsche Molen [English: 'The Dutch Windmill Association'] will celebrate its 100th anniversary by drawing attention to the multifaceted significance of windmills in the Netherlands. The ten stamps depict various types of windmills from across the Netherlands, focussing on both construction and technology. The denomination on these stamps is ‘1’, the denomination for items weighing up to 20g with destinations in the Netherlands. The stamps were designed by Bart de Haas from the Hague. A sheet of ten stamps costs €10.10.

'De Hollandsche Molen, vereniging tot behoud van molens in Nederland' [English: 'The Dutch Windmill, association for the preservation of windmills in the Netherlands'] was founded on 15 May 1923 in Amsterdam. Initially, the association focused on preserving windmills in their economic function. After the World War II, the windmill lost its role as a means of production and the focus shifted to its scenic and historical value. Thanks to the efforts of De Hollandsche Molen, hundreds of windmills have been preserved and, in many cases, set in motion again. The association advises windmill owners, monitors the proper design of the windmill environment, raises awareness for the windmill and windmill preservation in society, promotes windmill ownership and mediates financial support for restoration and maintenance.

Some 10,000 mills were still in operation in the Netherlands in the 19th century. Of these, 1,200 still remain, including polder windmills that can drain excess water and industrial mills that can grind grain into flour, saw wood into planks and press oil from seeds. The De Hollandsche Molen's 100th anniversary stamps feature examples of the following types of windmill: the octagonal internal turning mill, the octagonal scaffolding mill, the paltrok mill, the watermill (lower beam and middle/upper beam), the post mill, the wip mill, the round stone ground sailor, the round stone tower mill and the round stone scaffolding mill.

The names of the ten windmills featured on the stamp sheet are:

o De Sluismolen, 1575 (Alkmaar-Koedijk, Noord-Holland)

o De Wetsinger, 1872 (Wetsinge, Groningen)

o De Held Jozua, 1719 (Zaandam, Noord-Holland)

o De Noordmolen, 1347 (Ambt Delden, Overijssel)

o De Lelie, 1836 (Puttershoek, Zuid-Holland)

o Tot Voordeel en Genoegen, 1798 (Alphen aan de Maas, Gelderland)

o De Middelmolen, 1655 (Molenaarsgraaf, Zuid-Holland)

o Coppensmolen, 1883 (Zeeland, Noord-Brabant)

o De Hoop, 1808 (Wolphaartsdijk, Zeeland)

o Bovenste Plasmolen, 1725 (Plasmolen, Limburg)

The De Hollandsche Molen's 100th anniversary stamps feature cut-outs from photos of ten special windmill parts: five inner parts (inner cross wheel, edge runner stones, track wheel with pinion, sack hoist and a couple of mill stones) and five outer parts (self-turning sail, outer cross wheel, stage and tail beam, scoop wheel and water wheel). The tab next to each stamp shows the mill in its entirety, with a colour gradient on the left from blue to green and on the right from blueish green to greyish green. A similar colour gradient is visible on the upper and lower sheet edges. On the stamps, a geometric frame is placed over each detailed picture, referring to the shape of the windmill in question (octagonal, rectangular or round). Each stamp image was given a layer of colour with a relationship to the windmill's function, for example yellow for a corn mill and blue for a water mill. The photo area outside of the frame is blurred to make the windmill part inside the frame stand out. Each stamp shows the name and function of the windmill, construction year and name of the windmill component. The tabs specify the windmill type and the province in which it is located.

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.

Windmills are a favourite subject for Dutch stamps. Previously published stamps featuring windmills include the graphic photos on the 1963 Summer Stamps, for example (designed by Cor van Weele) and colourful illustrations on the 2013 Dutch Windmillsstamp sheet (designed by Joost Veerkamp). Another stamp sheet in the Typically Dutch series was published last February, featuring an iconic illustration inspired by the Kinderdijk windmills (designed by Total Design).

Ingenious operation
The latest issue of windmill stamps has been published by PostNL to mark the 100th anniversary of Vereniging De Hollandsche Molen. 'Windmills are typically Dutch, just like clogs, tulips and dykes. You can't get more Dutch than that,' says graphic designer Bart de Haas from The Hague, who was responsible for designing the De Hollandsche Molen's 100th anniversary stamps. 'We all know what a windmill looks like - the silhouettes in the landscape are imprinted in our collective memory. But we're much less knowledgeable about the ingenious operation behind the various types of windmill. These latest windmill stamps therefore focus on the technology, featuring photos of the typical parts of a windmill. I also wanted to show a wide variety of windmill types, with as little overlap as possible. The proportions on the stamp sheet more or less match reality. For example, there are many more windmills than water mills in the Netherlands and more corn mills than polder mills.'

Geographic distribution
Besides their operation and diversity, the design factors in the distribution of windmills across the Netherlands. De Haas: 'The geographic distribution of windmills across the Netherlands is quite literally projected onto the stamp sheet. For example, on the left, windmills are presented from Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland and Zeeland, from top to bottom. Similarly, on the right, the windmills run from north to south: from Groningen via Overijssel and Gelderland towards Noord-Brabant and Limburg. Some provinces have more windmills than others, and certain types of windmills are more common in some regions. This distribution has been factored into the stamp sheet. For example, the octagonal internal turning mill and the paltrok mill both mainly appear in Noord-Holland, whereas windmills with self-turning sails are more common in Groningen.'

Today, windmills have little economic use. Yet there are still 1,200 windmills in the Netherlands, thanks in part to the work of Vereniging De Hollandsche Molen. The stamp sheet offered space for only ten these windmills. When it came to selecting the windmills, designer De Haas was supported by specialists from De Hollandsche Molen. 'They taught me a lot about how windmills work. I extracted details about specific windmills from the extensive public database run by Stichting Molendatabase. All the photos that feature on the stamp sheet have been taken from there.'

Inside and outside
Based on his research, De Haas selected ten windmills and windmill parts to appear on the stamps. 'The parts depicted relate to the windmill's function, construction or both. Of the ten parts, five come from inside the windmill and five come from the outside. The indoor and outdoor shots are staggered diagonally across the stamp sheet from top to bottom. Some of the parts were an obvious choice, such as the mill stones at De Hoop corn mill, the water wheel at De Bovenste Plasmolen and the edge runner stones at oil mill De Noordmolen. With other windmills, it's often not immediately apparent how special a part is. De Wetsinger's self-turning sails in Groningen, for example. This technique was only used in the Netherlands for the first time at the end of the 19th century. This ingenious wing system allows the windmill to adjust to the strength of the wind independently, with tiltable flaps in the wings. This means the miller no longer needs to put sails on the wings in low winds or remove them again in strong winds.'

12 photographers
The photos used from De Hollandsche Molen's database were taken by no less than twelve different photographers. 'They're all passionate windmill enthusiasts,' says De Haas. 'Many of the photos are beautiful, but they do vary in quality. It's difficult to take good photographs inside a windmill, for example. For that reason, all of the photos were edited - by increasing the contrast in the cut-outs, polishing off the reflection of flash light or adjusting the perspective, for example. By adding layers of colour, the photos gradually formed a whole. I wanted to make the windmill photos featured on the tabs look like an old postcard by adjusting the colours. The transparent colour block on the stamps refers to the windmill's function, for example blue for the polder mill, yellow for the corn mill, brown for the saw mill and red for the oil mill. These colours are repeated in the detailed photo on the stamp. A frame has been added to each stamp in reference to the shape of the windmill: octagonal, round or rectangular. Again, these shapes are associated with specific regions. For example, you'll come across many more round windmills in Zuid-Holland and Zeeland than in the north of the Netherlands.'

Wind and water
De Haas is pleased with how his design concept has turned out, and he's also had the opportunity to brush up on his knowledge of windmills. 'I'm impressed with all the techniques that are used - techniques dating back to a time when wind and water were the only energy sources. For the design, I used various information layers to highlight as many types of windmills and their parts as possible. I didn't factor in age, but a nice time span has naturally emerged, with windmills dating back to the 14th and 19thcenturies.'

About the designer
Bart de Haas (1966, The Hague) graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. After working for several design agencies, he established himself as an independent graphic and typographic designer in 1993. He has a strong preference for book design and has also designed posters, magazines, websites and visual identities in the past. Bart de Haas has designed books for Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, the Army Museum Delft, nai010 publishers, Brill publishers, de Buitenkant, Clio, SUN, THOTH, Vantilt, W-Books and Waanders, among others. For PostNL, he previously created the Underwater landscapes (2021-2023) and Primeval Species stamp series (2021-2023) and the stamps for PostEurop – Vrede (2023), Snaarinstrumenten (2022), Dutch castles (2017), Apple and pear varieties in the Netherlands (2016), National musical instruments (2014) and Long live the woods! (2010).