This year, the Europa theme is astronomy. And the Dutch have taken this opportunity to come up with a very interesting issue of two stamps.
The first stamp is based on the LOFAR project. This project aims to produce supersensitive telescopes with which signals may be intercepted that are as old as the universe itself. In other words, it may detect objects that were the first to be formed after the Big Bang! Fascinating stuff. But it also deals with matters closer at home. Seismic imaging of the Dutch underground can be done so that the impact of pumping out all that natural gas from beneath the north in the Netherlands and subsequent subsidence can be monitored. This, in combination with rising sea levels (and we all know that the Dutch claimed most of their land from the sea anyway) could have a major impact on the country.
The stamp shows how wide-ranging the project is, with its main hub in Exloo in the northeast of the Netherlands, but with other stations in Germany, Britain, France and Sweden.
The original artwork for the stamp centres much more around the Netherlands itself.
It was basically developed from the LOFAR logo.
The eventual stamp stresss the international importance much better.
The second stamp features Mr Huygens once again. I've only just recently gave him a mention. The famous Dutch astronomer was also well known for his work on telescopic lenses, one of which is depicted on the stamp. The designer, Joost Grootens, has very carefully included many symbolic details in the stamp. The orange colour of the manuscript refers to the royal colour of the Netherlands. The golden colour of the word NEDERLAND refers to its golden age, the age in which Huygens lived. The fact that the word EUROPA is left uncoloured, has to do with the fact that there was not really such a defining thing as a united Europe in those days. The fact that the value crosses the stamp edge onto the priority label, is symbolic for the cross-over or international nature of Dutch astronomy.
The lens itself zooms in on Saturn's moon which Huygens discovered. In the lens you'll find some technical stuff but also "Admovere oculis distnatia sidera nostris" which means so much as "those that study the stars have brought the faraway stars closer to our eyes".
With all those details it is so much more rewarding to look at a stamp like that and appreciate its design. Pity we can't buy them yet. They won't be issued until April 7!
PS: Most images and most info courtesy of Postzegelblog