2023NL Crypto Stamp 2 - Lion - Collectibles
2023 NL Crypto Stamp 2 - Lion - Collectibles for only GBP £8.04
In 2022, PostNL released the first Dutch crypto stamp, with the bull as its symbol. On 10 October 2023, a new crypto stamp will be published in the Netherlands: the NL crypto stamp 2 - lion. Along with the crypto stamp featuring the lion, PostNL is releasing the NL crypto stamp safe in three variants: the dummy, the bottle and the rainbow.
Like the 2022 crypto stamp, the new crypto stamps feature the value designation R for domestic registered post weighing up to 20g. The physical crypto stamps have digital twins in the blockchain. PostNL subscribers were able to reserve their copy of the NL crypto stamp 2 - lion from 20 September. The NL crypto stamp 2 - lion and the NL crypto stamp safe cost €9.25 each.
The issue of the new crypto stamps is the result of collaboration between the national postal companies of the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria. PostNL, POST Luxembourg and Österreichische Post are simultaneously releasing their own crypto stamps based on the same design concept and symbol (the lion), but with different graphics and a different country and value designation.
The crypto stamp featuring the safe was introduced by Österreichische Post in June 2023 at the launch of their own Crypto Stamp 5.0 (bear). For the first time, the NL crypto stamp safe enables customers to discover a new digital twin (NFT), as a magic symbol with a certain rarity is hidden behind the door of each safe. There are three different safe stamps: a dummy, a bottle and a rainbow. Combining these symbols with the digital twin of the NL crypto stamp 2 - lion, for example, transforms the symbol into a new motif (a new NFT). This process is called morphing. The combination is one-off and irreversible.
The dummy transforms the lion into a baby lion (neutral colour). The bottle turns the lion to a baby lion in the colour of the original NFT (a red lion becomes a red baby lion, a blue lion becomes a blue baby lion, etc.). Finally, the rainbow – the rarest symbol – changes the lion, regardless of its colour, into a rainbow lion. More information on morphing is available at NLcryptostamp.nl.In 2019, Österreichische Post became the first postal company in the world to publish a crypto stamp. Other (postal) companies followed Austria’s example, including PostNL in 2022 with the NL crypto stamp featuring the bull as its symbol. This stamp was published in collaboration with Österreichische Post. In 2023, POST Luxembourg joined the Netherlands and Austria in issuing crypto stamps featuring the lion and the safe. As is the case with other crypto stamps, the new crypto stamps are linked to a digital twin in the blockchain. Blockchain is a computer technology that uses distributed databases to secure the ownership of crypto money and other digital assets such as crypto art and crypto stamps. These digital items are also known as NFTs (non-fungible tokens). The Dutch crypto stamps’ digital twins can be viewed on a computer or smartphone at any time. These NFTs can also be stored it in a digital collection or sold using a digital wallet. A special feature of the 2023 issue is the morphing (transformation) technology that was used. Those who store both crypto stamps (the lion and the safe) in a wallet can transform the hidden symbol into new, rare NFTs by opening the door of the safe.
Activate the NFC function on your smartphone. Hold your phone near the NL crypto stamp 2 - lion or the NL crypto stamp safe to check its authenticity.
Discover the colour
Each NL crypto stamp 2 - lion has a digital twin with a particular colour in the blockchain. There are five different colours, some of which are more common than others. To discover the colour of the digital twin, you can scan the QR code on the back or enter code  and code [A] at NLcryptostamp.nl. The circulation of the NL crypto stamp 2 - lion is 75,000, with the following colour distribution: black 39,225, green 20,025, blue 9,975, yellow 5,025 and red 750.
Transfer digital twins to a wallet
To store, swap or sell the digital twin, you first need a crypto wallet. You can choose from a number of different wallets. You do not need cryptocurrency in order to store your collection in your wallet, but you do need cryptocurrency if you want to transfer or sell a crypto stamp to other users. The 'secret word list' is also essential and can be found behind the security foil of code  on the back. This can be scanned or entered at NLcryptostamp.nl. To exchange digital twins with others, you can use Polygon (MATIC), which is a cryptocurrency that works through the existing Ethereum network.
Discover a new digital twin (morphing)
Behind every safe door on an NL crypto stamp safe is a magic symbol: a dummy, a bottle or a rainbow. The numbers vary, and the rainbow is the rarest. You can combine the symbol behind the door to your safe with the digital twin of the NL crypto stamp 2 - lion in your wallet, so that this symbol transforms into a new NFT with a new motif. This transformation (known as ‘morphing’) can also be achieved by combining Dutch, Luxembourg and Austrian crypto stamps in order to get even more NFTs. The circulation of the NL crypto stamp safe is 25,000, with the following distribution of symbols: dummy 13,750 (55%), bottle 11,000 (44%) and rainbow 250 (1%).
Once again, the new Dutch crypto stamps are the size of a bank card and are made from extra strong reinforced paper. Each physical stamp has been affixed to the front of the stamp sheet, in the centre. The stamp can be detached along the perforated edges.
The NL crypto stamp 2 - lion was designed by Sandra Smulders from Vormgoed in Gouda. She also designed the Luxembourg and Austrian versions of this crypto stamp. The design centres on a lion’s head. The lion is looking in a different direction for each country. The illustration is made up of polygons, in reference to the name of the cryptocurrency (Polygon) used for storing and exchanging crypto stamps. The background of each crypto stamp shows part of a map of Europe, where the respective country (the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria) is highlighted in blue. For each country, landscape features (water, forests and mountains respectively) are marked with graphic lines, each with its own colour. There is a colour gradient running from left to right in the background, from blue to green to grey. If you place the crypto stamps side by side, you’ll see the full map of Europe on the front. The lion's head, the countries and the landscape have a glossy sheen due to the film layer. The back of each crypto stamp contains all the numerical codes and QR codes that the owner of the crypto stamp needs. The background shows the same landscape lines and colours of the respective country, but mirrored. The design of the digital twins repeats the landscape lines and the contours of the land.
The NL crypto stamp safe was designed by Lisa Filzi, aka Frau Filzi – Kreativstudio in Aigen, Austria. The Dutch safe stamp is identical to the Austrian variant; the country and value designation are the only two aspects that differ. Both crypto stamps feature the same illustration of a safe door, with hinges, a dial and a lock on the stamp and rivets on the sheet edge. At the bottom are reels of a slot machine, showing five symbols as used on current and previous crypto stamps. The colour gradient on the stamps runs from silver to bronze, and features a top layer of varnish. This crypto stamp also has all the codes on the back.
For the typography, the designer has used OCR-A, an optically readable letter designed in 1968 by American Type Founders (Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA). OCR-A was one of the first fonts specifically created to be read by computers.
The design of the 2023 crypto stamps is innovative in many ways and a involved competition among various graphic designers and collaboration between postal organisations from the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria. During the design process, the designers discovered that a layered design can produce beautiful results for crypto stamps. The graphic designer responsible for the design was the designer who won the competition: Sandra Smulders from Vormgoed in Gouda.
The 2022 crypto stamps still focused on the bull as the key symbol, but this changed to the lion in 2023. ‘It meant fantastic connections could be made, as the lion exudes strength, courage and authority as the Animal King,’ says Smulders. ‘They’re insanely cool animals. Since there were three crypto stamps, I thought about making the lion look in a different direction for each country. It also matches really well with the coats of arms of the Netherlands and Luxembourg, both of which feature lions looking in different directions.’
Rich colours and shapes
The brief changed several times during the competition and design phase. Smulders: ‘Initially, the thinking was still that we would replace the bull with the lion using the 2022 design. The final result goes much further than that – it features a lion's head rich in colours and shapes, literally shining in large format on the crypto stamp. It also features lots of references to the specific countries and their landscapes in the background. The size of the lion's head on the stamps is due to the relocation of the QR code from the front to the back of the crypto stamp. That was a great decision because it made the image plane for the design much larger.’
European map, countries and landscape lines
Most of the time was spent designing the lion's head, as the background was pretty much fixed. Smulders: ‘My first proposal already included a map of Europe in the background, which ran across all three stamps. Each crypto stamp shows the outline of the relevant country in a solid blue field. The background colour changes from blue for the water-rich Netherlands, to green for the Luxembourg forests, to grey for the Austrian mountains. Graphic lines indicating landscape features were added as an additional reference. Initially, these were areas where lions are found in real life, such as the savannah and open forests. Later on, I changed this into the typical landscape shapes of the countries featured: waves representing Dutch water, branches representing Luxembourg's forests and contour lines representing Austria's mountains.’
At first, Smulders worked with stock images of real lion heads. She later came up with the idea of constructing the lion's head out of polygon shapes. ‘That obviously aligned well with the cryptocurrency Polygon, which you can use to exchange crypto stamps in your wallet with others,’ Smulders said. ‘But I had no idea how to make a lion's head out of those kinds of shapes. First, I played around with special tools on the computer to automatically convert existing images into polygons. But that didn’t produce a nice result as it wasn’t precise enough. And so I taught myself to convert existing images into polygons manually, piece by piece. It’s intense work, but it produces great results.’
Many polygons, many colours
Smulders started with the lion's head looking straight ahead. ‘I used a stock image that I liked to convert the lion's head in my design programme, shape by shape. That helped me work out which polygons work best and how many you need. Some parts of the head were easier to work with than others. The ears, nose and muzzle were the most difficult parts to get right. I also learnt how to distribute the colours so that the lion comes to life. In the end, I used lots of different colours: four shades of gold, four shades of blue, four shades of green, four shades of grey and a few shades of orange and black. On top of that, I used another layer of grey shades, which created a bulge and added depth to the image. This gave the lion's head a clear left and right half, made up of lots of polygons. For the eyes, I used a real lion’s eyes as I wanted them to speak.’
‘I then worked on the lions looking to the left and to the right, which presented new challenges,’ Smulders says. ‘It was impossible to find stock images of the same lion holding its head exactly as I wanted to depict it on the stamps. Of course, I also wanted it to be obvious that the three lion images depicted the same animal. As an example, I used a stock image of another lion whose head position was as close as possible to what I wanted to achieve. I then created a new head using polygons, while constantly referring to the first lion I made. Again, I used all the colours and a shadow effect that matched the new position of the head. Take a look at the mane, for example, which is slightly darker on the left than on the right. The last lion was the easiest to get right, as it’s looking to the right. It’s an exact mirror image of the lion on the left.’
A great commission
In the final stage, Smulders tweaked another aspect in the background. ‘Previously, the contour lines of the countries were much rounder,’ she says. ‘But that didn’t fit in with the new polygonal nature of the lion's head, and so I ended up making those lines angular. Overall, it was a really cool assignment to be involved in. It’s the first crypto stamp in the Netherlands to feature a Dutch design, and sot it was an honour to work on it. The collaboration between the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria also gave me the opportunity to design the crypto stamps for those countries. That was really special, as it really was an international assignment. When it came to feedback and approval, the fact that so many parties were involved proved to be a challenge. But it always turned out well – just look at the result!’
About Sandra Smulders
Sandra Smulders (The Hague, 1974) studied advertising and presentation design at Nimeto Utrecht from 1991 to 1995, specialising in graphic design. After graduation, she worked as a graphic designer and art director with Admix B2B agency, FPW communications agency, Manten Grafisch Ontwerpbureau, and VDM Reklame, all four of them based in Rotterdam. She started the Vormgoed agency in Gouda in 2007 as a graphic designer and art director. Smulders specialises in designing logos and corporate styles and further developing their associated means of communication. She mainly works for business clients. Her recent clients include engineering firm ABT, travel company All for Nature, Groundwater Technology, Overeijnder Van den Dool communications and Uitgeverij DAVO. For PostNL Smulders also designed the 2022 World Animal Day and Stamp Day2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 stamp sheets, the Back to the 20th Century and Trains & Journeys (2019) stamp series, the 2018 Children’s Welfare Stamps, the stamp series celebrating 50 years of the Daily Fable (2018) and the 25 years of Fokke & Sukke (2018) stamp series.