150 years of designs for the Dutch Postal Services in pictures > About the Collection

Design by Piet Zwart, 1931.

A competition held in 1920 revealed how difficult it was to entrust both the design and production of a stamp to a single individual. Only few artists possess the technical skills required for the entire process.

The production process was, therefore, entrusted to the expertise of the Joh. Enschedé printing company in Haarlem. This company had been printing Dutch securities, bank notes and also stamps since the eighteenth century, and employed professional typographers and engravers such as Jan van Krimpen and Sem Hartz, who had the skills to execute the artists’ designs.

Thanks to Joh. Enschedé, the Dutch Postal Services were able to commission many artists, including the architect Michiel de Klerk, the designer and typographer Nicolaas Jacobus van de Vecht and the expressionist painter Jan Sluyters. In the 1930s, Piet Zwart, Gerard Kiljan and Paul Schuitema introduced the New Objectivity by using photomontages. Their designs were representative of contemporary trends in art.

The Museum voor Communicatie administers this unique collection of Dutch stamp designs, which illustrates the entire process of stamp design and production: from the first sketches, to the final designs and proofs through to the end product. The collection also includes hundreds of alternative and rejected designs. The more than 10,000 objects held by the museum are not on display, but only on view in digitized form on the site of the Memory of the Netherlands and at http://www.postzegelontwerpen.nl/.

Examples from this collection 150 years of designs for the Dutch Postal Services in pictures

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