Each time I get one of those lavishly illustrated Dutch auction catalogues in the mail, I drool over all those pages of wonderful Dutch material, and am close to just collecting The Netherlands as a country. I suppose I will succumb in the years to come to actually do make The Netherlands my main collection, but until then I just satisfy my hunger for stamps and buy the odd item.
Which was the case the last time such a catalogue entered my house and every fibre of my body. And so I managed to win a proof printing of the very first Dutch stamp!
Now, most proofs date from 1851 (the stamp being issued on 1 January 1852), but this example dates from after the issue of the eventual stamp, and I suppose should therefore not be called a proof printing at all! Van Dieten's "Proeven catalogus 1988" states that after the issue of the stamps, a number of printings were made of the 5c stamp from approved plate 1, for various purposes. These copies were printed in black on either ordinary or thick (my copy) paper. The catalogue does not date them, but as the next proofs date from 1856, these will have been made somehewere between 1852-6.
Anyway, if not a proper proof, at least this copy serves as a benchmark for identifying stamps from plate 1, but I must admit I have not yet dared to go there!