For a while I've been thinking about what to do with my Dutch collection which is still in one big mess, apart from my Beatrix definitives. The matter became more urgent now that I'm asked to display some of it in the not too distant future. That's when I remembered that stamp issue from 1990, commemorating 100 years of Dutch Queens on the throne, and how I had vaguely planned to build a collection around that theme.

The great thing would be that I could include all the queens' definitives which I love and be able to skip all the king's definitives (1852-1890) which would be so expensive to collect. So I've brought that idea back to life and started on my journey through a century of Queens from the House of Orange.

First of all I made a title page:

then a very sketchy introduction of the four queens (basically just saying when they ascended the throne and what their reign was characterized by):

and then I started on the very first issue of that century: the "Hangend haar" definitives, so-called because they portray the then still Princess Wilhelmina with her hair loose.

Actually, the definitives appeared during the reign of Queen Emma. When King Willem III died in 1890, his only surviving child, Wilhelmina, was only 10 years old. So his wife, Emma, became Queen Regent in 1890. Her reign lasted until 1898, when Wilhelmina became 18 and ascended the throne herself. There were, however, never any Emma definitives. Instead, the current definitives of Willem III were retained, changing his portrait for that of the young princess.

It is a rather complicated set to start with, and one that I haven't got a grasp on yet. I know the set can be subdivided into three groups:
Group 1: printed as 200 single stereos with natural dyes;
Group 2: printed from plates with natural dyes;
Group 3: printed from plates with synthetic dyes.
And I know there are ways to distinguish between these types, but I've not yet succeeded in doing that and haven't got enough copies to be able to say which is which. I'm hoping to see a dealer later this year who I know is able to set me straight on this, so I'll report back on this later!

So for now I've just mounted the basic set and moved on to cancellations. Three main types of cancellations can be found on these stamps, the first one being the "puntstempels" or dot cancellations. These were used from 1869 until 15 June 1893. The stamps were not issued until October 1891 so the dot cancellations have only been used on this set for some 18-19 months. The cancellation consists of a dotted lozenge with a number in the centre, allocated to a particular post office. There are 249 different numbers to collect on this set, but some of them will be very rare and especially so on the less frequently used values! Again, I've only just started on this, so all I have are a few basic ones, although number 75 (Meppel) is a slightly less common one.

By the way, I'm not trying to collect all 249 numbers, what I'm hoping to complete is a full set with this type of cancellation. Maybe if one day I will embark on a collection of "Cancellations on Dutch Mail" I might try and get as many numbers as possible!