Norway Collectors' Stamps

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Regarded today as one of the world's most prosperous and developed countries, Norway's roots date back as far as the Viking age, when legend has it the territory was united around 872 AD. Norway has always been an important philatelic market. Its history includes predominantly definitive issues, many of which have been used continually for extended periods of time. That said, there is still much in the country to interest collectors, with a number of rare Norway stamps to be found for sale both online and off.

Norway's Postal History

With a relatively small population spread across more than 148,000 square miles of territory, there has always been a clear need for effective, affordable postal systems in Norway. In fact, formal mail delivery in the country dates back to 1647, when the first private couriers were established. From 1814 to 1905, Norway and Sweden were unified. During this time, both countries retained their own postal networks and, from 1845 onward, issued their own stamps.

The war era saw the only significant disruption in Norway's postal services in modern history. Following German occupation of the country in 1940, both the collaborationist Quisling government and the London-based government-in-exile issued their own stamps. Today, these remain issues of key importance to anyone interested in the complex philatelic history of Europe during the Second World War.

The Posthorn Design

As befits one of the oldest continually functioning states, Norway can boast having the single-oldest stamp design still in production today. That stamp, which features a crown and posthorn, was first issued on May 3, 1871. It was based on a design by Andreas Friedrich Wilhelm von Hanno, a notable architect responsible for drafting several buildings in what is now Oslo.

It is estimated that, over the years, more than five billion posthorn stamps have been printed. Though the design has undergone several facelifts, with a wide range of color, paper, perforation, watermark and cancellation varieties, the current posthorn is easily identifiable, having attained the status of a Norwegian postal icon.

Notable Norwegian Stamps

Aside from the posthorn issues, Norway has produced a number of other collectors’ stamps over the years, both definitive and commemorative issues. Some of the most-prized by collectors include:

  • 1855 Coat of Arms: The old Norwegian coat of arms, featuring a lion holding an axe, was in use between 1844 and 1905, at which point it was changed to the current design to reflect the country's newfound independence from Sweden.
  • 1877 King Oscar II: King Oscar II ascended to the throne of Sweden and Norway in 1872. Though Norway began issuing stamps in his likeness in 1877, Sweden did not follow suit until 1885.
  • 1922 "Lion Rampant:" The striking "Lion Rampant" design was introduced in 1922. Modeled after the new coat of arms, it saw continual use in the country for decades. Like the posthorn issues, the long-running nature of "Lion Rampant" means there are a large number of variations extant, some of which are among the rarest Norwegian stamps on the market.

Where to Find Rare Norway Stamps for Sale

You'll find plenty of rare and collectors' Norway stamps for sale at the Apfelbaum, Inc. online store. For more than 100 years, we have been one of the leading stamp dealers in the country. We have helped countless philatelic enthusiasts begin their collections or finally locate that one hard-to-find issue.

If you're looking to sell your collection, we can provide appraisals at your convenience as well as advice about safe shipping and storage. Have a question about our sales, want to arrange a valuation or need help finding a specific, rare Norway stamp? Call our office directly for assistance.