Sunday, February 04, 2007

THE LION IN PHILATELY

Final episode! Pfffff, I hear you say (or think). Sorry about that! Will find something new to write about next time, but before I do, here's the interesting story of the origin of the Belgium (and Dutch) lion!

When the Count of Louvain wanted to drive out the Normans, he united all the forces he could muster, and amongst those were the inhabitants of the oldest town of Brabant, Léan (meaning lion). These troops bore upon their banner the Lion in allusion to the name of their town. So well did they acquit themselves that the Count declared that the lion should have a place on his own banner. The rest of Belgium followed suit and that's how the lion became the principal figure in the Belgian Arms. It was always used to represent the united provinces of the lowlands, which is why you'll find the lion upon the Arms and stamps of the Netherlands also.

The examples shown here are an issue from 1869, designed by H. Hendrickx and engraved on wood by A. Doms. The stamps are printed in letterpress. As you can see, there are two basic designs, which have been used for various values, with additional values being added until 1888. The set is mainly only of interest because of its shades, although there are two varieties to be found on a number of values: CENTIMF for CENTIME and BELGIGUE for BELGIQUE.

The Dutch set is designed by J. Vürtheim, printed in letterpress and issued in 1869. There are a number of perf varieties to collect and there's the phenomenon of small and large holes. I don't have that many copies so I'm a little out of my depth here, but I think I'm showing you here an example of both small (left) and large (right) holes.

Well, and that's me as far as my lions is concerned. Will think hard of something new and different to share with you all !

:-)
Adrian

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